Simply Smoldering: Georgette Heyer Heroes that Burn up the Page

The Kiss by Carolus- Duran, 1868.

The Kiss by Carolus-Duran, 1868.

Georgette Heyer novels are not as explicit as many of the historical romances in circulation today.  But make no mistake, Heyer’s heroes are capable of generating just as much heat as their shirtless modern day counterparts.  With that in mind, I have carefully selected five of the most smoldering leading men from Heyer’s Georgian and Regency novels.  I present to you below the contenders for Georgette Heyer’s Hottest Hero.

Our first contestant is, of course, Jasper Damerel from Venetia.  Lord Damerel is no dashing Corinthian or stylish dandy.  He is a jaded, world-weary, former rake who bears more than a passing resemblance to a Byronic hero.  At the close of the novel, when Venetia returns to Elliston Priory, she finds the heartbroken Damerel disheveled and half-drunk.  Fortunately, it takes nothing more than the sight of her to rouse him from his self-induced stupor.

He was on his feet, knocking over his wineglass. “Venetia!” he uttered. “Venetia!”

Two hasty, uncertain strides brought him round the corner of the table; she moved towards him, and melted into his arms as he seized her.

He held her in a crushing embrace, fiercely kissing her, uttering disjointedly: “My love – my heart – oh, my dear delight!  It is you!”

The Kiss by G. Baldry.

The Kiss by G. Baldry.

Our second contestant is Max Ravenscar from Faro’s Daughter.  A self-professed “connoisseur of female charms,” Max falls hard for headstrong Deborah Grantham.  When Deb visits him at his townhouse in the final pages of the novel, he makes the most of the opportunity.

He kissed her, and, when she tried to speak, kissed her again, extremely roughly.

“Oh, no!’ said Miss Grantham faintly.

“Be quiet!” said Mr. Ravenscar, kissing her for the third time.

Our third contestant is Ivo Barrasford, Marquis of Rotherham, from Bath Tangle.  An intimidating and somewhat unlikeable fellow, his engagement to the equally hot-tempered Serena Carlow ended years ago.  But as Rotherham admits in the end, he is still in love with Serena.  Not interested in hearing her arguments against the resumption of their relationship, he silences her the only way he knows how.

Not only was she roughly jerked into Rotherham’s arms, but her mouth was crushed under his.  For a moment or two, she strained every muscle to break free, and then, quite suddenly, the fight went out of her, and she seemed to melt into his embrace.  It tightened ruthlessly, and only relaxed sufficiently to allow her to get her breath.

The Stolen Kiss by Jean-Honoré Fragonard , late-1780s.

The Stolen Kiss by Jean-Honoré Fragonard , late-1780s.

Our fourth contestant comes to us from the Georgian era.  Beneath the guise of “lazy, faintly mocking, exquisite,” the Earl of Rule from The Convenient Marriage is possessed of an “extremely powerful frame.”  He drives a racing curricle, he duels, and if pressed, he can even throw a man off a balcony into a decorative pond.  His marriage of convenience to Lady Horatia Winwood rapidly evolves into love, but in true Heyer fashion it is not until the last two pages that he makes his move.

[He] caught her up in his arms and kissed her, not gently at all, but ruthlessly, crushing all the breath out of her body.

“Oh!” gasped Horatia. “Oh, I n-never knew you could k-kiss like that!”

“But I can, you see,” said his lordship.  “And – I am sorry if you do not like it, Horry – I am going to do it again.”

Our fifth and final contestant is another Georgian nobleman.  Dominic Alistair, Marquis of Vidal, from Devil’s Cub, is the fiery son of Léonie and the Duke of Avon from These Old Shades.  Vidal is the epitome of the dissolute, temperamental libertine.  He has no use for practiced charm or subtle seduction.  When a case of mistaken identity throws the virtuous Mary Challoner in his path, Vidal kidnaps her and carries her away to France.  In the course of their adventure, she captures his heart and, in the second to the last chapter, with only the slightest encouragement from Mary:

He had caught her in his arms so fiercely that the breath was almost crushed out of her.  His dark face swam before her eyes for an instant, then his mouth was locked to hers, in a kiss so hard that her lips felt bruised.  She yielded, carried away half-swooning on the tide of his passion…

Cast your vote for Georgette Heyer’s Hottest Hero!  There are no limits on how many times you can vote and, as always, if you have a preference for another of Georgette Heyer’s smoldering leading men (Miles Calverleigh from Black Sheep, for example, or Sylvester from Sylvester), I encourage you to write in your choice below.

The Poll is Now Closed.

The Results:

1st Place: Dominic Alastair, Marquis of Vidal from Devil’s Cub with 30%.

2nd Place: Jasper Damerel from Venetia with 28%.

3rd Place: Marcus, Earl of Rule from The Convenient Marriage with 18%.

4th Place: Max Ravenscar from Faro’s Daughter with 10%.

5th Place: Ivo Barrasford, Marquis of Rotherham from Bath Tangle with 6%.

Honorable Mentions: The Duke of Avon from These Old Shades with 7 votes by write-in and Sylvester, Duke of Salford from Sylvester with 4 votes by write-in.

The following earned two votes each by write-in: The Marquis of Alverstoke from Frederica, Freddy Standen from Cotillion, Lord Carlyon from The Reluctant Widow, Charles Rivenhall from The Grand Sophy, and Captain Jack Staple from The Toll-Gate.

The following earned one vote each by write-in: Simon the Coldheart from Simon the Coldheart; The Earl of Worth from Regency Buck; Miles Calverleigh from Black Sheep; Richard Wyndham from The Corinthian; Kit Fancot from False Colours; and Robert Beaumaris from Arabella.

There was also one write-in vote cast for “All of the Above.”

Thank you for voting!

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (to be released by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017).  She researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history—from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism, and law. 

© 2015-2017 Mimi Matthews

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39 thoughts on “Simply Smoldering: Georgette Heyer Heroes that Burn up the Page

  1. Sarah Waldock says:

    I haven’t added him as an ‘other’ because I don’t like ‘These Old Shades’ as well as I used to, but I confess that as a teenager I thought Justin Alastair was well hot; in fact reading TOS gave me my first awareness of more adult feelings. However, Damerel has to be up there, you will always find him ready with a cutting repartee, not to mention a celebrated sneer, and I make no apology at all to Mr W S Gilbert for nicking his lines.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Mimi Matthews says:

    Thanks for commenting, Sarah! The Duke of Avon almost made it into this poll, but in the end I thought he was a touch too cold-blooded (especially when compared to his son). As for Damerel, he’s my own personal favorite and definitely one of her hottest heroes. We’ll see which way the poll comes out. It never fails to surprise me.

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  3. LouisaCornell says:

    I love them all, but my heart will always belong to Jasper Damerel. Venetia was the first Georgette Heyer I read and while i have enjoyed them all Venetia remains my favorite. These polls are so much fun and yield some fascinating insights!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Anne says:

    Choosing a hot Heyer hero is SO hard!! People have told me several times that I will definitely find Damerel hot, but since I haven’t read Venetia yet, I don’t know. He sounds wonderful though! My two top favourites are Avon and Alverstoke (I was surprised that Alverstoke didn’t make the list, but there are so many that it’s hard to list them all!), and I also have a thing for Vidal. 😉 Loved the post as usual, and this was probably my favourite poll so far hahaha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Haha! I never thought of their names that way before, but you are so right 🙂 I really wavered on whether or not to put Avon on the list, but ultimately it came down to those ruthless kisses in the end. Avon was a bit more self-controlled with Leonie, don’t you think?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Totally agree, Jude! Lord Rule checks all the boxes. I especially like that nothing Horatia does ever phases him, nor does he ever blame her (like Cardross blames Nell in April Lady).

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  5. JRB says:

    I really like Alverstoke and Rule and Damerel. Actually, I probably would’ve chosen Alverstoke. Ultimately, though, I wrote in Julian Audley, The Earl of Worth, because REGENCY BUCK was the first Heyer I read, and I didn’t read anything but Heyer for the three weeks following that week because I found his banter and sexual chemistry with Judith Taverner utterly delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, JRB! Regency Buck was Heyer’s very first Regency as well and Lord Worth & Judith are a great couple. I featured Worth in another recent Hero poll (the most dashing, I think), so couldn’t put him in this one. That doesn’t mean he may not still win by write-in!

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  6. Shirley Wine says:

    How can I just choose One??? I loved Elinor Rochdale and Lord Carlyon … married at midnight a widow at dawn.. what a hook! And then there is Captain John Staple and Nell Stornaway… but my favourite Heyer of them all is The Grand Sophy … I have all of Heyer’s books on my bookshelf and all have been read to the point of tatters…nothing equals them when you’re having ‘a fit of the sullens’ … pick up a Heyer and within moments your lost in a land of laughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      I completely agree, Shirley. There is nothing like a Georgette Heyer novel when you’re “blue-deviled.” I often wish someone would find an as yet unknown cache of previously unpublished Heyer novels so we would have some new ones to read. Alas, I think we’ll have to content ourselves with the 50+ already in print 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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  7. Jenny Haddon says:

    I’ve voted for Rule because he intends to make a rather bloodless marriage and then is jumped out of that by finding, as he tells his sister, that Horatio may even be a bit of a heroine to marry him. And of course, there’s that fantastic duel…Definitely hot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      I loved that duel! I also loved how Rule reached across his dining table and choked his cousin for insinuating that Horry was unfaithful. A great all around hot hero! Thanks for commenting, Jenny 🙂

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