A disgraced lord, a notorious highwayman
Jack Carstares, the disgraced Earl of Wyndam, left England seven long years ago, sacrificing his honor for that of his brother when he was accused of cheating at cards. Now Jack is back, roaming his beloved South Country in the disguise of a highwayman.
And the beauty who would steal his heart
Not long after Jack’s return, he encounters his old adversary, the libertine Duke of Andover, attempting the abduction of the beautiful Diana Beauleigh. At the point of Jack’s sword, the duke is vanquished, but foiled once, the “Black Moth” has no intention of failing again…
The Black Moth is Georgette Heyer’s first novel, written in 1921. I for one am glad that her novels have been re-published by Sourcebooks. I probably would not have discovered these books if not for the shiny new covers. Yes, I get distracted easily by the shiny. LOL
As much as I enjoyed this book, it isn’t one of my favorites by Heyer. I can partly put the blame on the blurb – I was expecting more in regards to Jack Carstares and Diana Beauleigh. Unfortunately, these two don’t even meet until halfway through the book!
No, the plot of this book revolves around other characters. There is Tracy, the Duke of Andover. He’s the villain of this book, he’s the Black Moth (as one character describes him). You see, Tracy was vital in Jack being ostracized from polite society, wrongfully ostracized. You see, at a party (six years before our story begins), Jack’s younger brother was caught playing cards with a marked deck. Back in the day, there’s nothing worse than having your honour questioned, and Tracy questions Richard’s honour…and Jack stepped in and claimed he marked the deck. So Jack was shunned.
And now Tracy thinks he has fallen in love and he attempts to kidnap the object of his affections in order to force her to marry him. Sounds like quite a likable fellow, don’t you think?
Instead Jack, who has been playing at being a highwayman for the past few years, interrupts the kidnapping and saves Diana. Injured in the rescue attempt, Diana and her family house Jack during his recovery. And so a few chapters is given over to Diana and Jack falling in love.
I found that switch in writing styles from contemporary historicals somewhat odd to deal with. And it served to remind me that you can’t hold Heyer’s writing to modern standards. At least with this novel you have to. Her other books I’ve read have always heavily portrayed the H/H throughout the whole novel. The Black Moth is more of an ensemble piece…think of the movie Love, Actually – many little stories put together. That’s how this book works.
And now that I’ve told you what to expect, hopefully you won’t go into this book with the same expectations I did.
The Black Moth gets a 4 out of 5 from me. I did enjoy it, but it’s not Heyer’s strongest.