I'll admit it openly and unashamedly: I am a Georgette Heyer fangirl. Anyone who knows me, knows that I simply don't read romances or chick lit, so this admission is a rather earth shattering.
I have been a Heyer fan, since that day in the library when, ever searching for something to recommend to a precocious early teens reader, our local librarian Jill turned to the other librarian Mary and said, "How about Georgette Heyer?". Mary, the Heyer reader, decreed that was an excellent idea, and lead me through the stacks to the H's, showed me the row of Heyer's novels and recommended one. It was love at first read. Since, I've tried other "Regency" authors, but my addiction is to Ms. Heyer, not to the genre of Regency Romance.
Ms. Heyer was excruciatingly historically accurate (to the annoyance of her critics) and filled her books with as much of the language and flavor of Regency England as she possibly could (another sore spot with critics). For a teenager with Asperger's, a predilection toward British history and a love of words, Ms. Heyer's Regency novels, full of such detailed depictions of high society life during this time, were gifts from heaven. I still read them anytime I want a lighter read, to escape completely and totally into another time.
Charity Girl has long been one of my favorites, since that first reading when I found myself surprised (due to slowness to pick up on social cues, even in books) with the ending couples. In this delightful novel, the Viscount Desford (quite the eligible bachelor), meets young (beneath her years) Charity Steane in the role of poor relation in her aunt's house. The next day, he literally runs across her as he is returning to London; she has run away from her unkind (though not cruel, but certainly not loving) aunt and is attempting to walk to London.
Desford knows that she is unsuspecting prey for any blackguard that drives by and does what any decent gentleman would do: he reluctantly becomes involved. His attempts to help Charity find a safe place send him from one shire to the next watering hole, looking for her grandfather. In the meantime, he has placed Charity in the charge of his best friend, Hetta, much to Hetta's chagrin. They've been friends since nursery days, though, and Hetta is persuaded to help him out this scrape, though she worries about the outcome.
Charity Girl is witty and intelligent, with a satisfying romantic conclusion. Her characters are lively and their dialogue is a joy to read. For light reading (though meatier than most light reading), one can't go wrong with this one.