Jo Beverley – “Deirdre and Don Juan”

15 Aug

GENRE: Romance / Regency
PUBLISHED: in: Lovers and Ladies; NAL; 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked other novels by Beverley, I wanted to read one of her traditional regencies but they were oop + it was a good bargain

The back blurb:
” ‘Don Juan,’ the dashing Earl of Everdon, married young and for love, but his beautiful wife ran off with another. Now newly widowed, he needs to marry and produce an heir, but thistime he’ll choose a woman no otheer man will want. He expects Lady Deirdre Stowe, a plain wallflower, to be honored, but not a bit of it. Deirdre is furious at him for ruining her plan to marry another. A promise compels her to pretend for a while, which gives the intrigued earl time to try to win the exasperating woman he has come to love.”

I don’t know why but I had a difficult time writing this post. Together with The Fortune Hunter, Deirdre and Don Juan is part of the omnibus edition Lovers and Ladies. I enjoyed reading it and, due to its stronger focus on the romance, I liked it probably a bit more than The Fortune Hunter.

Don Juan is a very nice hero (except that I thought the name a bit much). He has a loving relationship with his mother and he’s rather caring about other people, especially women who seem a bit sad. It seems he can’t help himself, he feels compelled to cheer them up. After his disastrous first marriage (his wife left him for another man), he has a cynical view about marriage and compares wives to lottery tickets. Deirdre seems like a good draw to him and so he proposes.

Deirdre isn’t happy about that. She calls him an oaf. His proposal ruins her plan to marry a man her parents are not happy (Howard) about but promised she could marry if she wouldn’t receive a marriage proposal during her stay in London. So Deirdre calls Don Juan an oaf (I liked that) but right then they can do nothing but to go along with their engagement. The plan is for Don Juan to do something so outrageous that the engagement will be called off by her parents. Then Deirdre can marry her man after all and Don Juan gets to draw another lottery ticket.

Don Juan is intrigued by Deirdre and if it weren’t for Deirdre being in love with Howard, he would be perfectly willing to marry her. His fascination is partly because he sees her as one of the women with hidden fire. And since he likes women and cares for them, he can’t help himself but stir that hidden fire in order for her to make her enjoy life more. Something Howard failed to do, as he observes. Of course, while he’s at it, he falls in love with Deirdre. It’s a slow process and something he only realizes very late. Suddenly he finds himself in the same situation the man was who ran off with his wife. Or, as Deirdre points out, he makes her the same as his wife by wanting her to break her promise to Howard and marry him instead. His wife wasn’t loyal when someone better represented himself to her, as he says himself, so where does that leave her loyalty. Is there a difference and when, where is it?

Sometimes it was difficult to understand why Deirdre remained so set on marrying Howard. He and Don Juan get a lot of contrasting scenes and Don Juan always comes across as the better man. He’s very good looking, he’s wealthy, he pays attention to Deirdre, he has excellent social skills, he kisses better, … But in the end, for Deirdre it all comes back to loyalty. That and the fact that Deirdre feels needed by Howard, whereas Don Juan seems so perfect it’s hard to imagine he would / could need someone. While it took Don Juan quite some time to realize that he fell in love with Deirdre, so it took Deirdre quite some time to realize that there are different kinds of need, and that Howard doesn’t need her in the way she thinks and wishes for.

On the whole, Deirdre and Don Juan was an enjoyable read with a lot of banter between the main protagonists but there are also some more serious moments.

To think that I got Lovers and Ladies mainly because it was a bargain – sometimes it pays to be cheap and get books just because they’re on sale for a price you can’t possibly ignore. Now I hope the other traditional regencies by Beverley will get published too because I want to read the other stories alluded to in these two novels.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes.

Grade: 4 + / 5


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