Author of over fifty books, Georgette Heyer is the best-known and best-loved of all historical novelists, who made the Regency period her own. Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was written at the age of fifteen to amuse her convalescent brother; her last was My Lord John. Although most famous for her historical novels, she also wrote eleven detective stories. Georgette Heyer died in 1974 at the age of seventy-one.
Elinor Rochdale has to make her living as a lowly governess since her father gambled away the family's property and then committed suicide. On her way to her new - and less than pleasant - post in Sussex, a misunderstanding takes her into the wrong coach and to the... Elinor Rochdale has to make her living as a lowly governess since her father gambled away the family's property and then committed suicide. On her way to her new - and less than pleasant - post in Sussex, a misunderstanding takes her into the wrong coach and to the wrong job offering. Lord Carlyon is looking for a woman willing to marry his dissolute cousin because he's fed up with the rumours that he is after the young man's inheritance. When his cousin is fatally injured, Carlyon manages to talk Elinor into marrying him. A few hours later she's a widow with a run-down house near Carlyon's estate. Within days of moving in, it turns out that her 'husband' was involved in espionage for Napoleon Bonaparte and that an important document must be hidden in the house. With the help of Carlyon, his youngest brother Nicky, and Nicky's less than well-trained dog, Elinor is doing her best to prevent the document from falling into the wrong hands... This novel has a lot of atmosphere, especially with the old, run-down house and its secrets. The mystery plot is also good, there are some very interesting characters, and quite a bit of humour. Parallel to the well-done mystery, there's a minimal romance plot between Elinor and Carlyon, but it's given very little space and mostly consists of her verbally attacking and demeaning Carlyon and him calming her down or mocking her. The author has written a lot better romance novels and I felt that this part of the book could have been improved. But it works well as a mystery novel with some humour and I would recommend it as such.