Title: The Black Moth
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher: Harlequin 1929
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Georgette Heyer; Support Your Local Library; 2011 - Way Back When
It tells the story of Jack Carstares, oldest son of the Earl Wyncham, disgraced six years earlier, who returns home and becomes a highwayman so that he is able to live in the land he loves without detection.
One day while out riding he foils an abduction plot mastered by the infamous Duke of Andover. Injured while rescuing the damsel in distress, he is taken home by the thankful Diana Beauleigh and her Aunt Betty, to recover. Mystery and intrigue continue to the melodrama's end...
My love for Jane Austen convinced me that I needed to read Georgette Heyer. Heyer began writing in the 1920s and continued up until the 1950s. Her works focused mostly on the Regency period with historical romances and mysteries. Some of her books are set in adjacent times, but mostly it's the beginning of the 1800s. So I picked up one of her first books (maybe her first book? the dates get a little confusing)and dived in. Side note: According to the introduction, this story as one made up for her brother, who was ill at the time.
I really liked this book. It had the right amount of action/adventure and romance to suit my tastes. I like a combination in my books. The main male character, Jack, was likable, even when he was robbing the rich or putting on the Sir Anthony Ferndale persona. The villain, Duke of Andover, was full of venom. The right amount to hate him want to see him lose the girl. The various side characters were interesting: Jim, Miles, Molly (my favorite!). They added a depth to the book.
At times, Diana felt a little flat. She wasn't as much of a character as I hoped she would be. Maybe that's the Jane Austen in me talking. I'm so used to her complex female characters that I think I'm a bit spoiled.
This is more of a historical commentary than specific to the book, but it did affect my experience. I have never been able to find men dressed in the late 1700s French style of powdered wigs, makeup, satin clothing, and high heels attractive. They look very close to clowns for me (and I have a huge phobia of clowns). Every time Jack was described in this style, I pictured the clockwork robots from Doctor Who. Definitely not attractive in my book. According to the various Heyer websites, her late books are set squarely in the Regency period, so hopefully no more clown men.