Feb 282015

Silhouettes of a man and woman in Regency dress against a background of the number 80

Today, Emma Kaye, who has written time travel romances set in the Regency, shares with us how she, herself, is able to travel in time by reading Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter. She also explains what she most loves about Regency romances, those special qualities which are not found in romances from any other genre and make reading Regencies such a treat.

Please feel free to share your views about this story, or Regencies in general in comments to this article.

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Woman in a white satin Empire gown playing a harp

Why do we read? The answer is as varied as the books we love. Are we looking to enlighten ourselves? See the world from someone else’s point of view? Or are we looking to escape our own reality for a short time and immerse ourselves in someone else’s?

Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter is one of those books I pick up when I’m in the mood to lose myself in another world and enjoy the characters without having to overanalyze everything. The story gets a bit silly (the heroine tends to overreact—a lot) but it’s fun. Here’s the blurb in case you haven’t read it:

A sparkling Regency romance from the queen of the genre.

Beautiful Deborah Grantham, mistress of her aunt’s elegant gaming house, must find a way to restore herself and her aunt to respectability, preferably without accepting either of two repugnant offers. One is from an older, very rich and rather corpulent lord whose reputation for licentious behavior disgusts her; the other from the young, puppyish scion of a noble family whose relatives are convinced she is a fortune hunter.

Max Ravenscar, uncle to her young suitor, comes to buy her off, an insult so scathing that it leads to a volley of passionate reprisals, escalating between them to a level of flair and fury that can only have one conclusion…

Faro’s Daughter doesn’t actually take place during the Regency period of 1811-1820, yet many still consider it a Regency romance. Why? Because the genre is more about the feeling of the period rather than actual dates. (Thank goodness, because I always fell asleep when they discussed dates in history class.) No. Regencies are about elegance and the witty repartee between characters, all within the confines of a society that has strict rules on public behavior. I say "public" because while everything was prim and proper on the surface, behind closed doors? Not so much.

The ballrooms and country estates of the super-rich lords and ladies of the ton are prime settings for a Regency romance, and probably the most common, but by no means the only settings for these romances we all love. Faro’s Daughter takes place mostly in a gaming house (Little better than a "common gaming-hell" with the addition of an EO table, Deb thinks bitterly at one point) owned by the heroine’s aunt.

Gambling is a favorite pastime of high society. Fortunes are won and lost at the Regency gaming table. The heroes and heroines we love are generally very good at games of chance and too smart to bet more than they can lose. However, they’re not above using their skills to take down the villain. Max Ravenscar, in true Regency fashion, defeats a rival for Deb Grantham’s affections (one of those repugnant offers mentioned in the blurb) in a card game.

Even though the conflict is rather contrived at times—if Deb had simply told Max she had no intention of marrying his cousin instead of getting so enraged at the insult she promises to do the exact opposite, there would be no story—Heyer still immerses the reader in the life of her characters and the "feel" of the Regency without ever coming across as giving us a history lesson.

That’s one of the things I love about Regency romances. My favorite authors—and there are so many wonderful Regency authors it’s impossible to name them-make me feel like I’ve stepped back in time. They weave history into a love story so seamlessly it becomes not just the background or wallpaper, but practically another character.

So, I’d like to say thank you to Georgette Heyer for introducing us to the wonderful world of the Regency. Happy Anniversary.

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.)

You can find her at:

Website: www.emma-kaye.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/emmakayewrites

Twitter: @emmakayewrites

  19 Responses to “Regency Turns 80 — Faro’s Daughter

  1. I have to say, I was glad that Deborah did not tell Max she had no intention of marrying his cousin. He was so arrogant and insulting, I thought he got exactly what he deserved. The scenario may be a bit contrived, but in Heyer’s hands, I enjoyed the way Deborah put him in his place as an important and satisfying part of the story.

    However, I must also admit I read it for the first time in the 1970s, when women were very active in seeking equal rights, so that might have had some influence on my view. My younger self saw it as Deborah standing up for herself to a powerful and haughty man who needed to be knocked down a peg or two.

    Thanks for a lively article which really captures the spirit of our celebration.



    • I agree, Kat. I have so much fun every time I read this story, I’m glad Deb goes to the extreme like she does. I re-read this story before writing this post and still laughed out loud at some points even though I’ve read this countless times before. I enjoyed seeing Deb stand up to Max. He sorely needed someone who didn’t bow to his wealth and arrogance.

      Thanks for stopping by,

    • Ooh, yes, Kat! Ravenscar deserved everything he got. And how fun it was to watch it! I do love stories where the heroine is underestimated, and proves her strength.

  2. I do like a tale of an arrogant lord set in his place. You’ve reminded me of this one of Heyer’s, which I remember enjoying, although it’s been awhile since I read it. In fact, after your reminder of the story now, I think I’ll have to look it up again. Thanks, Emma.

    • Thanks, Barbara.

      Deb definitely puts Max in his place and what I especially love is how much he appreciates her for it. She opens his eyes to the joy of a woman who is his equal. I love it.

      Glad you stopped by. I hope you enjoy Faro’s Daughter next time you pick it up.


  3. This book made me obsessed with piquet. “Piqued, repiqued, and capotted!” I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew it was exciting…and after finishing Faro’s Daughter, I almost felt like I understood the game — Heyer is that good.

    (Warning — what follows is a Regency fan geeking out over piquet. Read at your own peril.)

    So I learned to play, determined that I wouldn’t have a man tell me I was “weakest in my discards” or anything of the sort. Eventually, I found a period Hoyle’s, and learned the rules at the time were slightly different than the 20th century rules, so I started playing by Regency rules. I piqued, I repiqued! And was piqued and repiqued. And I think every now and then there was a capot, but it seemed really rare. (And I think I *never* got a carte blanche.)

    For a while, I was even convinced that Heyer erred in having “piqued and repiqued” — because one thing consistent in all the rules is that you can (if you’re lucky) pique, or (even better) repique, but you can’t get both. (It would be like doing so well on a test that you get both an “A” and a “B”.) But then one day in a different period Hoyle’s, I saw that exact term! So the great Heyer was (of course) right all along… (Though I wasn’t exactly wrong; apparently the terminology of the time saw it rather more like “you broke the British AND world speed records” — when of course if you broke the world record you also broke the British record…but why not mention them both?)

    • Oh, Cara! That’s so great that you learned to play. I love the piquet scene. The terms go right over my head, but it is exciting and I always feel like I’m sitting next to them watching the action.

  4. Faro’s Daughter has always been one of my favorite Heyers. I thoroughly enjoyed the battle of wills between two strong characters. It never occurred to me that the story could have ended if she’d only told him she wasn’t after his innocent cousin. (Max was so insufferably self-complacent, I’m sure he wouldn’t have believed her anyway.) I thought the story played out exactly as it should have, with him receiving his come-uppance — and the lady. Thanks for the article, Emma, and for the discussion above, which I also enjoyed. Cara, I never went so far as to try to understand piquet!

    • Judy, the next time we’re at a conference together, I’ll teach you! 🙂

      • Cara, I didn’t go back to check for further comments on this post. I’ll take you up on that offer! I’ve been dithering over going this year, and think I’ve concluded not to go. But I do plan to next year!

        • I won’t be going to conference this year either, Judy, but I will in San Diego. We’ll play piquet then!

    • That’s true, Judith. He may not have believed her. I hadn’t thought of that. But I’m certainly glad she didn’t. I loved the back and forth between them. Max needed to be taken down a peg and I don’t think he’d ever be happy with someone who couldn’t take him on.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. She may have overreacted a bit, but I’d much rather have an over-reacting heroine than an intimidated one any day. I particularly like the kidnapping in this one.

  6. Thanks for a delightful post Emma! I read Faro’s daughter a long time ago, but will have to revisit it soon.

  7. I have read all Georgette Heyers books many times and have copies of them all. If I had to pick a favourite it would be Arabella but I do love them all. She puts humour into them which makes them so easy to get lost in. The attention to detail of life at the time is fascinating.

    • I love Heyer’s sense of humor. Arabella is another great one, but my all time favorite is The Masqueraders. I’m reading it again now and loving it as much as I always have!

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