I’ve only begun reading Heyer’s books as of late last year and can honestly say that so far every single one has been a source of pure delight. No surprise- Powder and Patch followed suit in keeping me well entertained. This book, sweet, short, hilarious, with its oh-so-French flair was completed in one sitting.
The book is about Philip Jettan, son to the extravagant Maurice and nephew of Tom. The latter are both highly fashionable men, who are well known in high society; whereas the good-natured, but somewhat simpleton and rough-on-the-edges Philip, leaves much to be desired.
Philip is, however, the loving flame of Cleone, a neighborhood friend and great beauty. Cleone, along with the rest of Philip’s small family, all agree that the young man should get a make-over to improve his style, fashion sense, etiquette and social skills. Philip is not too keen on this and believes he should be loved for who he is. He makes a strong point- Except that things change dramatically when a certain Bancroft comes to town…
Bankroft is handsome, well-mannered, sophisticated, well-versed, and ever so fashionable. He also has a way with the ladies, and Cleone notices him immediately. She is seemingly swooned by Bancroft who pays gracious attention to her every need. Philip notices this but believes that Cleone is his sweetheart and that no one can ever come between them. Cleone admits that she loves Philip but will not take him as he is…he definitely needs refining. She would love him to be more romantic and worldly.
The decision is taken by both father and uncle- Philip is to go to France to become more civilized and worldly. Philip, enflamed by jealousy, finally agrees, and off he goes to Paris. There, a huge transformation takes place. Elegance to the max, Philip is the center of all attention- no party is worth going if he’s not present. He’s got style, class, fashion…and, a way with words that makes every woman want to be with him.
When he comes back to England, he is a changed man. But Philip wants to know if Cleone really loves the man, or the powder. It is a struggle of wits, suitors for Cleone, love games, jealous rants and more. Cleone is not used to this man who is no longer simple…intriguing to the max, she cannot resist him, yet she will not succumb. What will happen? Do they end up together or will Cleone marry another?
I loved this sweet story filled with old French sayings that I hadn’t heard in years (Salipopette!) the details in fashion and Phillip’s mundane experiences were totally amusing. The characters are also perfectly suited to the story. Heyer brings in Louis XV, la Pompadour and other figures of the times to further immerse us into a world of glamour, extravagance and fun- all precisely intended to highten Phillips magnificent make-over. The setting, the language, the story; everything about this book makes it an extremely enjoyable read.
Thank you Sourcebooks!