An aging master con man, his cross-dressing offspring and their respective loves make for a wild romp through Georgian London in The Masqueraders. Today, Emma Kaye, romance author, shares why this romance by Georgette Heyer is so special to her and why she finds it such a timeless story. As Emma notes, perhaps a cross-dressing heroine is more believable in a historical romance. Or, is it simply that we take such things so for granted today that no one would think twice about it in a contemporary romance?
Feel free to share your views on this Georgian romance in comments to this post.
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The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a go-to novel for me. When I’m in a bad mood and need a pick me up, this is one of the books I grab. It’s not often that a book can stand the test of time like this. Our tastes change over the years, what was once fun and exciting now seems stupid and boring. Not so with The Masqueraders.
This book introduced me to one of my favorite romance tropes—the heroine disguised as a man. I’m not sure how well this works in contemporary stories, but it definitely works in historicals. I think what I like most about it is that the hero doesn’t fall in love with a pretty face and great set of boo…um, books (Yeah, books. Hero’s just love those bluestocking heroines, don’t they?) No. Take away the physical attraction and the hero sees the heroine first as a person, not just someone he’d like to sleep with until he finds out she’s actually likable as well.
Sir Anthony Fanshawe doesn’t see a pretty girl in a fancy dress, he sees a young man who shows remarkable courage and intelligence. He admires these qualities and takes young Mr. Merriot under his wing, slowly coming to realize there’s something different about him. When he realizes the incredible truth, rather than being upset by this deception or discounting the admirable qualities he saw in the young man as implausible in a young lady, he realizes he’s fallen in love with a remarkable woman. He’s willing to upset his nice, orderly life and enter into all kinds of unknown adventures with this exceptional woman.
Prudence (Peter Merriot) takes everything in stride. She’s no stranger to wearing men’s garb. Her unconventional life has meant it was often safer for her to appear to be a boy. It never bothered her. Until-she meets Sir Anthony. Suddenly her disguise feels less like a lark and more like a nasty deception. Her nerves are ruffled like they never have been before. Everyone underestimates Sir Anthony, but not Prudence. He sees more than anyone knows and she suddenly cares what someone would think of her and her crazy life.
The Masqueraders was my first romance where the woman dresses as a man, but not my last. Several of my favorite books have that same trope—Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey and Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss, to name just two. When I read a back cover and see that the heroine dresses as a man, for whatever reason, I’m instantly intrigued.
Emma Kaye is the author of two time travel romances set in the Regency—Time for Love and In Her Dreams (a short story in the anthology Timeless Escapes: A collection of Summer Stories.)
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