April Lady by Georgette Heyer was a delight from start to finish.
The story of beautiful and young Lady Nell Cardross whose family were known for being gamblers and wastrels, and her relationship with her older, masterful husband after a series of miscommunications left them doubting each other in every way was always going to end with a kiss, but how they got from the start to the finish of this story was fun.
After enjoying a comfortable arrangement for many years with a lady who wasn’t a lady, Lord Giles fell in love with seventeen-year old Nell at first sight, paid off the worst of Nell’s father’s spectacular gambling debts and married her. However Nell, who had also fallen in love with Lord Giles, was unfailing polite and amiable towards her husband but never showed him how she truly felt after her mother warned her not to in case she bored him.
Nell had no idea of how to manage money so spent a ridiculous amount of the generous allowance Giles made to her on dresses, hats and reticules, then against her husband’s explicit orders gave her brother Dysart a large sum to tide him over when he got into trouble.
On learning that Nell hadn’t been paying her bills Lord Giles called her to task before settling her accounts, leaving Nell feeling embarrassed and ashamed of herself, much like a small child who has gotten into trouble from their parent.
When Nell later received a staggeringly large bill for a court dress that she had forgotten to tell Lord Giles about, instead of telling her husband the truth she asked Dysart and his rackety friend to help her to raise the money, which allowed the story to leap from Nell almost going to the money-lenders (shocking!), to Dysart attempting a hold-up so he could steal the Cardross family jewels then sell them so Nell could pay her debts (even more shocking!)
Having caught Nell in several little white lies Lord Giles began to suspect that Nell had only married him for his money and, feeling humiliated and broken-hearted, was increasingly civil and cold to poor little Nell.
The supporting characters added enormously to this story. As well as Nell’s brother Dysart they included Lord Giles’ headstrong younger sister who was madly in love with a young man without any money and Lord Giles’ cousin, Mr Felix Hethersett, who acted as if he were Nell’s lover but was in reality her strongest supporter. Felix’s comments on fashion, particularly when providing advice to the female characters were priceless.
April Lady probably isn’t one of Georgette Heyer’s better stories, but even so, it was fun and there is no one like this author for historical romance, plus I’m a sucker for a happy ending.