Those who told me time and time again not to miss the Georgette Heyer romances -- you were right. Yes, I was being stupidly stubborn because of my romance genre prejudice.*
By the end of the book, when Declarations of Love Were Made, I was hugely, sappily smiling. I might have even sighed a little. I might have even wished for a little MORE on the romance front. But I'm not ready to admit to that much yet.
Word of warning, though. If you read the 1951 Ace Star mass market paperback, don't bother reading the synopsis on the back cover -- it's TOTALLY WRONG. For one, Drusilla Morville isn't the main character -- that would be Gervase Frant, the Earl of Erth. Also, Gervase never suspects Drusilla of any wrongdoing, she is not his mother's companion (his mother is dead), though she is staying with his STEPmother while her parents are away, and she didn't need to do any convincing to make Gervase fall in love with her -- she never actively pursued him and she NEVER made it obvious that she was in love with him. I thought it was more obvious on his end, actually. And the description makes her sound dainty and winsome ('pretty little ears'), when she is most assuredly not. Astonishing number of mistakes for a three sentence description.
Anyway, loved it. Martin was just awful -- peeved that Gervase didn't die in the army, spoiled and petulant and bad-tempered -- and I loved every one of his scenes. Same goes for the Dowager Lady St Erth, who reminded me of P&P's Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine. (Yes, both of them.) Drusilla's parents were very minor characters, but hilarious, as was Gervase's bossy valet.
I had the mystery figured out from the beginning (simple application of the It-Isn't-The-Most-Obvious-Person Rule only left one other suspect), but for me it was all about the characters, dialogue and, yes, romance.
Le. Sigh. I just ordered The Grand Sophy.
*And yes. I do see the irony. I know that grousing about people with the YA prejudice or the sci-fi prejudice is a tad hypocritical. But see? I learned my lesson! Bring on the romance. As long as there aren't any horse tragedies. The less horses the better, really.