Courtship, Proposals, and Marriage: Heyer’s Most Memorable Couples

Signing the Register by Edmund Leighton Blair.

Signing the Register by Edmund Blair Leighton .

Much like in a Shakespearean comedy, the end result of most of Georgette Heyer’s novels is a marriage.  We may not see the wedding and we are certainly never privy to the honeymoon, but make no mistake, from start to finish, a Heyer romance is all about the happy couple.  With that in mind, I have carefully selected five popular pairings from Heyer’s Georgian and Regency novels.  I present to you below the contenders for Georgette Heyer’s Most Memorable Couple.

Our first couple is Jasper Damerel and Venetia Lanyon from Venetia.  Damerel is a jaded and world-weary rake who loses his heart to the intelligent and unspoiled Venetia.  Though he fights his feelings for her, in the end he inevitably succumbs to the lure of matrimony.  When Venetia selflessly informs him that she does not wish him to marry her if he would rather not be married at all, he responds:

“Then you are by far more unselfish than I am, my dear heart, for I wish to marry you whatever your sentiments may be!”

The Wedding portrait of Emilie und Johann Philipp Petersen Hamburg by Friedrich Carl Gröger, 1806.

The Wedding portrait of Emilie and Johann Philipp Petersen
by Friedrich Carl Gröger, 1806.

Our second couple is Frederick Standen and Kitty Charing from Cotillion.  After having spent the majority of the novel engaged in a fake betrothal, they ultimately discover that they have fallen in love with each other.  Freddy asks:

“You don’t feel you could marry me instead?  Got no brains, of course, and I ain’t a handsome fellow, like Jack, but I love you.  Don’t think I could ever love anyone else.  Daresay it ain’t any use telling you, but—well, there it is!”

Our third couple is Robert Beaumaris and Arabella Tallant from Arabella.  Though he initially only sees Arabella as an entertaining diversion, Mr. Beaumaris ends by thoroughly losing his heart.  As he says to Arabella at the close of the novel:

“I am strongly of the opinion that you should permit me to escort you home to Heythram as soon as possible: you will naturally wish your father to marry us, and I am extremely impatient to carry off my wife without any loss of time.”

The Wedding March by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1919.

The Wedding March by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1919.

Our fourth couple is the Marquis of Alverstoke and Frederica Merriville from Frederica.  Regarded as a great matrimonial prize, Alverstoke has so far evaded the shackles of marriage.  That is, until he meets his distant cousin Frederica.  When she is inclined to think he is only proposing out of kindness or because he may have compromised her, Alverstoke states in no uncertain terms:

“I am neither good nor kind; I did not compromise you; and if I thought you an object for compassion I should also think you a dead bore, my girl!  But you have never bored me.”  He possessed himself of her hands, and held them firmly.  “The only woman I have ever known who has never done so, and could never do so!  I had not thought that such a woman existed, Frederica.”

Our fifth and final couple comes to us from the Georgian era.  The Earl of Rule and Horatia Winwood from The Convenient Marriage are one of the few couples in a Heyer novel that marry early on in the story.  Rule is initially betrothed to Horry’s elder sister who is, in turn, in love with another.  In a bid to free her sister, Horry approaches Rule with a proposal of her own.

“C-could you – would you m-mind very much – having m-me instead?”

Signing the Marriage Contract by George Sheridan Knowles.

Signing the Marriage Contract by George Sheridan Knowles.

Cast your vote for Georgette Heyer’s Most Memorable Couple!  There are no limits on how many times you can vote and, as always, if you have a preference for another Georgette Heyer couple (Judith and Worth from Regency Buck, for example, or Léonie and Avon from These Old Shades), I encourage you to write in your choice below.

The Poll is Now Closed.

The Results:

1st Place: Venetia & Damerel from Venetia with 25%.

2nd Place: Kitty & Freddy from Cotillion with 19%.

3rd Place: Frederica & Alverstoke from Frederica with 15%.

4th Place: Horatia & Rule from The Convenient Marriage with 13%.

5th Place: Arabella & Mr. Beaumaris from Arabella with 11%.

Honorable Mentions: Avon & Léonie from These Old Shades with 15 votes by write-in; Mary & Vidal from Devil’s Cub with 8 votes by write-in; and Judith & Worth from Regency Buck with 6 votes by write-in.

The following Heyer couples garnered at least 1 vote each by write-in: Sarah & Tristram from The Talisman Ring; Phoebe & Sylvester from Sylvester; Sophy & Charles from The Grand Sophy; Jenny & Adam from A Civil Contract; Oliver & Annis from Lady of Quality; Ned & Elinor from The Reluctant Widow; Ivo & Serena from Bath Tangle; Ancilla and Waldo from The Nonesuch; Sherry & Hero from Friday’s Child; Max & Deb from Faro’s Daughter; Miles & Abby from Black Sheep; and Dolph and Miss Plymstock from Cotillion.

Thank you for voting!

The Next Heyer Poll is Wednesday August 5th.

© 2015 Mimi Matthews

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37 thoughts on “Courtship, Proposals, and Marriage: Heyer’s Most Memorable Couples

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, Victoria! I don’t know if it’s the best Heyer to start with, but my personal favorite is Venetia. It reads more like literature than simply a frothy romance. Plus, the two main characters are incredibly intelligent and quote Shakespeare and poetry at each other from the moment of their first meeting.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nabila Malik says:

    It’s a difficult choice. I am in love with all her heroines and heroes. If I had my way, I would name each and every hero and heroine in each one of her novels, with the exception of KATE, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, Nabila! It is a really difficult choice. I was hard pressed to narrow it down to five contenders and even then I could easily have swapped those for five other favorite couples! Not many authors can boast so many great hero/heroine pairings as Heyer.

      Like

      • Sarah Waldock says:

        I started with Frederica… and my favourite is Unknown Ajax. Kate is a difficult read, and some people find Reluctant Widow harder to get into as well. [Ned is too much like my brother for me to find him sexy but I love Miss Beckles]

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mimi Matthews says:

        Great suggestions, Sarah! Frederica is another really good one. I started with The Corinthian myself, but I recommended it to someone recently who read a few chapters and then gave up. Everyone’s taste is so different!

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  2. Dani Hilliard says:

    Yes I think it is a difficult choice to make – all of her heroines are characters and the men all seem to know – certainly by the end of the book just how to respond appropriately to support and nurture their heroines – no mean feat!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dani Hilliard says:

    I also meant to say that I liked Judith Taverner and Julian St John Audley from Regency Buck who also appear again as supporting characters in An Infamous Army – a good and healthy relationship in the second book too whereas the two characters in the first book really do test each other out. The first Heyer I read was The Quiet Gentleman and I was hooked even though at the time I wasn’t very old when I started reading them all…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thank so much for commenting, Dani! Judith and Worth were definitely a great couple. Also, (along with Leonie & Avon, Vidal & Mary, and Perry & Harriet), they have the distinction, as you said, of appearing in multiple books. I almost included them in the poll, but instead had to settle for mentioning them as an alternate choice. Feel free to write them in!

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  4. JRB says:

    I cannot overstate my love for Alverstoke. The man is an arrogant and insufferable boor who, despite all his protests, can’t help but fall in love with a heroine who refuses to see his attachment as anything serious. And he falls in love with her halfway through the book–and admits it, too! His proposal is amazing.

    I also just want to put in a good word for Judith and Worth even though I ultimately voted for Alverstoke and Frederica. I loved his proposal, too. Yay for ethics LOL. And I’ve got such a massive soft spot for him anyway because REGENCY BUCK was my first Heyer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, JRB! I totally agree about Alverstoke. I think he is one of the best heroes. He really grows and changes throughout the novel and his relationships with Frederica’s brothers and with his own sisters are just wonderful (and sometimes hilarious) to read about.

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  5. Eram rahman says:

    Frankly I am a diehard fan having grown up with the Georgette Heyer romances being my earliest guidelines to romance in the true sense of the word.All the couples featured in your list are my favorites. But I have a special affinity for the two couples in These old shades and Devils Cub. Otherwise I think it’s a tough choice to make.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, Eram! Avon & Leonie and Vidal & Mary are two of the very best couples. I think Heyer must have felt that way too since she included them in multiple books. I almost put them in this poll, but Avon makes his way into almost all of my polls and Vidal won the hottest hero poll last month, so I thought I’d give a few other couples a chance 🙂 There are just so many great couples in Heyer’s novels. It is no wonder she has such a following all over the world.

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  6. dawnharris5 says:

    I have voted for Venetia & Damerel, but I could as easily have voted for any on your list plus a couple of others. I’ve picked Venetia because it is one of my favourite Heyer books. Mind you, I have at least eight of those! But if I have to choose two top books they would be “Venetia” and “A Civil Contract.” You’ll notice I couldn’t just pick one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, Dawn! Venetia & Damerel are a great choice. Venetia is my favorite Heyer too. I love that your other favorite is A Civil Contract! It generally has Heyer fans divided. Some dislike it outright, while some were slow to warm to it, but it eventually became their favorite. I haven’t talked with many who loved it on the very first read, however.

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  7. dawnharris5 says:

    No, I don’t think I loved it on the first read, although I certainly liked it. But, as with most of Heyer’s books I have read them many, many times, and over the years I have come to appreciate what a really good book it is. The characters, as always, are so well drawn. To choose a heroine who was out of her social class, and who wasn’t pretty, was unusual. And brave. And, in my opinion, she does it brilliantly!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Waldock says:

        I hated Civil Contract on my first read, at 16 years old, but having returned to it as an adult, I do enjoy it. And I think Adam loves Jenny in his own way [and she’s worth a dozen of wasserface]. Jenny is a brave, practical girl, and the social background is delightfully well drawn.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dawnharris5 says:

        Yes, that puts in a nutshell. It’s the detail and the subtleties of wit and language that makes it so easy to read her books time and again. You know what’s going to happen but you are still drawn in, still eager to turn the page. I’ve just finished reading “Frederica” again, and found myself wishing she had written twice as many books as she did!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Jenny Haddon says:

    Well, it’s been all of them over the course of the week but in the end I plumped for Horry and Rule because they seem to me to be the couple who have travelled the furthest. I particularly like Rule who never expected to have to work at marriage, having proposed to a docile and well-behaved Beauty, actually recognising Horry’s quality and respecting them. And then, of course, he has to up his game to meet her. I love it when his sister says, ‘Is the girl a minx?” and he says he’s not sure she isn’t a heroine. That’s class – in both of them.

    But I nearly proposed my dear Sir Gareth and Lady Hester as the Other Couple who are my favourite. They have a lot in common with Jenny and Adam, I believe. I remember thinking that A Civil Contract was a bit piano and disappointing when I first read it. But now I think that Jenny’s feelings, like Hester’s, are just too painful to be more than glanced at, even by the author. As I’ve said before, a great deal happens in the space between the words in Heyer.

    Thank you for asking a great question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks so much for the comment, Jenny! I agree about Horry & Rule and the line where Rule says that she might just be a heroine is one of my favorite! I also have to agree about your views on A Civil Contract & Sprig Muslin. They feel like deeper, more mature love stories somehow and you phrase it perfectly when you say it is about the spaces between the words. I am linking to your wonderful article on this for anyone else who would like to read it!
      Jenny Haddon – Georgette Heyer: The Space Between the Words http://jennyhaddon.com/?p=973

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  9. Barbara B. Connelly says:

    I love the fact that quite of few of Heyer’s heroines are mature women. I love “Lady of Quality” & “Venetia”. So many of the “modern” regency do not have the great repartee of these characters & have too much erotica for my taste. I like the romance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      I agree, Barbara! Venetia and Annis in Lady of Quality are both intelligent, mature women who independently run a household as well as their own lives. There are not enough heroines of this type in modern historical romance. Perhaps people think it isn’t exciting enough?

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