Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer

Title:  The Unknown Ajax
Author:  Georgette Heyer
Genre:  Regency romance
Pages:  373

Rating:  B+

Synopsis (from  When the irascible Lord Darracott's eldest son dies unexpectedly, the noble family must accept their estranged Yorkshire cousin as heir apparent. They are convinced he will prove to be a sadly vulgar person, but nothing could have prepared the beleaguered family for the arrival of Major Hugo Darracott.  His clever and beautiful cousin Anthea is sure there's more to the gentle giant than Hugo's innocent blue eyes and broad Yorkshire brogue would lead one to believe. But even she doesn't guess what he's capable of, until a family crisis arises and only Hugo can preserve the family's honor, leading everybody on a merry chase in the process . . .

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I should have known this was going to happen.  When trying to decide which to read first, The Talisman Ring or The Unknown Ajax, I thought that this book might be better to save for last, as it sounded more like a typical Heyer romance than the other book did.  Unfortunately, it was the wrong choice.  While The Unknown Ajax is a good book, it is nowhere near as good as The Talisman Ring or most of Heyer's other works.

I think my biggest complaint about this book is that it took forever for anything to happen.  Most of the book was just a very slow lead up to the last fifty or so pages.  I just kept waiting for the plot to really begin, and it never happened.  There were funny moments here and there that helped break up the dragging sections.  But the book lacked much of Heyer's usual witty dialogue that makes her books so much fun to read.  Fortunately, those last chapters were incredible and made the first 300 pages worth reading.  (I also realize that I'm reviewing this book right after reading The Talisman Ring, which was non-stop humor and adventure, so my opinion of this book could change if read again at a different time).

There were some good characters in the book, a couple of annoying ones, and a few that were just blah.  Anthea, who the book description describes as "clever and beautiful" was one of the annoying ones.  At first I liked her, because she had spunk.  But then the spunk seemed to become more and more shrewish, until the very end when she suddenly became fun again.  Her cousin Hugo was one of the good characters.  Humble, strong, and kind with a hidden sense of humor, he was the perfect addition to the Darracott family, who lived under their irritable and ruthless grandfather's rule.  The one character I wish had gotten more attention and development was Anthea's aunt, Lady Aurelia.  Quiet and stern, she's incredibly intelligent and quick, and not afraid of her father-in-law in the slightest.  I wish Heyer had written a whole book about her.

The Unknown Ajax was a good read, but hard to get through.  I can often read a Heyer book in a day or two, usually because the dialogue is so good, I don't want to put the book down.  In this case, it took me four days with a break in there to read Persephone.  Not my favorite Heyer book, but I'd read it again for those hilarious last chapters.  B+

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