OK, it’s my one true vice. Not, in point of fact, all that vicious but I still hesitated to admit that I’d read this. But the deal I made with myself was that I’d write about every book I finished, so I can’t excuse leaving out a piece of total fluff.
In fact, this was the first Georgette Heyer novel I ever read. A friend gave it to me when I was 12 (also the year I discovered Dick Francis, another long-time love). I can’t count the number of times I’ve read The Masqueraders but the last reading was long enough ago so that I could appreciate its freshness. It was published in 1928, and it’s not strictly one of her Regencies, being set in 1746 or so, just after the defeat of the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie. So the men, noticeably, get all the good clothes, brocade coats with whaleboned skirts and huge cuffs to the elbow, lace ruffs and showy jewels. The men also get duels, and they get to hold up coaches using tiny pocket pistols and sword-sticks; maybe this is all more noticeable because the main characters are a brother and sister who have entered London society disguised (cross-dressing, in fact) as each other. I suppose in a day when men powdered their faces that was a more believable disguise? Or maybe in a day of black and white movies? The point is that the guys have all the fun while the girls are required to languish. And despite the improbability — you really have to check skepticism at the door — this is one of the better Heyers because the female lead has something active to do. (With a sword stick.)
No matter. I couldn’t read it critically. In fact this was sort of like seeing an old boyfriend at a party and understanding what I fell for all those years ago.