Sun
May 29 2011 3:00pm

My First Romance Boyfriend: Dating Georgette Heyer’s Beauvallet

Beauvallet by Georgette HeyerWhen I first started reading romance, most of the heroes were dark, brooding, angst-filled men. But there was one out-of-the-ordinary hero who instigated a lifelong love affair, not only with him, but with others who share his literary DNA.

May I present to you: Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer.

He is an English pirate of the Elizabethan era who falls in love with Dominica, a spirited Spanish noblewoman. He laughs, constantly, especially in the face of danger. He actually courts danger, probably just so he can have another good laugh. The heroine falls in love with him because of his derring-do, but also because he says he will go straight into enemy territory to get her, and he does, cheerfully risking his life, to rescue this woman he loves.

They meet when his crew captures the ship she and her father are on, although the pirates did not know they were aboard. Some of his men hold her captive, until Beauvallet appears on deck:

Two men went staggering aside, spun apart by an iron hand on the shoulder of each. The lady looked fearfully into the face of El Beauvallet. He had cast aside his morion, and his close black hair showed, curling neatly over his head. Under straight brows she saw fine eyes, the blue of the sea with the sunlight on the water. They were bright eyes and keen, vivid under the black lashes, laughing eyes, watchful yet careless. The laugh was stayed in them now as he checked in his impatient stride. He stood staring; a mobile eyebrow flew up comically; Sir Nicholas Beauvallet appeared incredulous, and blinked at this unexpected vision. His glance, quick moving, took in next the lady’s captors, and the stilled laughter went right out of his eyes.

One of the men gets a fist to the jaw, while the other “was sped on his way by a shrewd kick to the rearward.” Beauvallet apologizes to Domenica, as though nothing important had happened. And the heroine’s reaction?

The lady was forced to admit him a personable fellow, and she found his smile irresistible. She bit back an answering gleam: one would not smile friendly upon an English freebooter.

Soon the fiery Dominica has a chance to attack Beauvallet in her bid to escape, but this is not an “old skool” romance filled with ravishing and plundering:

“Good lack!” said Beauvallet, staring down into that exquisite face of fury. A smile of amusement and of admiration crept into his eyes. It caused Dona Domenica to lose the last shreds of her temper. What would you? She was a maid all fire and spirit. She struck at him, and he caught her hand and held it, pulled her closer, and looked down into her face with eyes all a-twinkle.

. . .

It was not to be borne. The lady’s eyes fell, and encountered the hilt of a dagger in Beauvallet’s belt. She raised them again, held his in a defiant stare, and stole her hand to the dagger’s hilt.

Sir Nicholas looked quickly down, saw what she would be at, and laughed. “Brave lass!” He let her go, let her draw out his dagger, and flung wide his arms. “Come then! Have at me!”

She stepped back, uncertain and bewildered, wondering what manner of man was this who could mock at death itself. “If you touch me I will kill you,” she said through her teeth.

Still he came on, twinkling, daring her. She drew back until the bulwarks stayed her.

“Now strike!” invited Beauvallet. “I’ll swear you have the stomach for it!”

He turns away, unconcerned, but the heroine is confused, and starts falling head over heels, just like I did. Ever since, I’ve been unable to resist irreverent heroes who laugh more than they frown. Who don’t take themselves too seriously, but are seriously devoted to the strong woman that holds their heart. And who forge ahead even when the obstacles would make a less carefree man call in sick that day.

It’s not fair to hold other heroes to the same standard as your first love, because they can pale in comparison. So while the following gents are not intended to be replicas of my beloved Beauvallet, they share some traits that bring him to mind:

Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann1. Izzy Izzanelli in Suzanne Brockmann’s Navy SEAL Troubleshooter series. Izzy is actually in several books of the series, but his story is in the most recent release, Breaking the Rules. Izzy is so irreverent he borders on inappropriate. He sings songs at the top of his lungs, with lyrics that go with whatever situation he finds himself in, even though it would be better if he’d keep his thoughts to himself. He loves hard, falling for a woman who needs his help, and he remains devoted to rescuing her even after she breaks his heart.

2. Bobby Tom Denton in Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. He’s a football star, using his good ole boy charm to distract people from how smart and driven he is. He’s weary of being fawned over by starstruck female fans who fantasize about being his wife, so he devises a football knowledge test designed to weed all of them out. And when he finds the one who steals his heart, is it any surprise she passes the football test even though she gets most of the answers wrong?

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie3. Davy Dempsey in Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. He lies for a living. He’s a freelance fraud consultant (aka reformed scam artist). When a character first meets him, she thinks, “He’s charming. That can’t be good.” He uses his quick wit and rakish smile to help the heroine with her quest, even though it conflicts with his own. She keeps him at bay, almost like Dominica did with Beauvallet’s dagger, but he still ends up losing his heart, and capturing hers too.

There’s plenty more room in the “My First Romance Boyfriend” club, so feel free to suggest some Beauvallet-esque heroes I need to read. I also want to hear about your first romance boyfriends! Tell me who stole your heart, and who steals it now.


 

Donna Cummings writes lighthearted contemporary and historical romance. She can be found at www.AllAboutTheWriting.com, or talking incessantly about coffee on Twitter @BookEmDonna.

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8 comments
Keira Gillett
1. Keira
Right after Justin Alastair, Beauvallet is my favorite Heyer hero. Yum!
Janet Webb
2. JanetW
Altho Beauvallet is on my shelf, I haven't read it. It certainly sounds like I should: I like laughing heroes and I have a few to suggest. Warriors who laugh: who better than Jo Beverley -- Cyn from Lady Notorious is always joking, laughing, quipping ... and in the face of a lot of danger too. I also love the hero of Hazard, Race de Vere, who flogged his men with ribbons. Lovely man. Balogh doesn't do humour too much in a hero but I did think Alleyne, with or without his memory, had a madcap way of approaching life.

Nope to Izzy. I used to like him, back when he sang marvelous songs to Tom's son while he babysat him -- and muttered funny stuff to his teammates -- and yes too to the Izzy who so creatively got it on with Tracy in the middle of a very cold situation. But I don't know -- or should I say -- I don't buy the new Izzy and I didn't find his Sir Galahad love life very appealing. Not one of my fave Brockmanns. I always thought Kenny had a wacky sense of humour.

My funny man in Susan Elizabeth Phillips: the golfer who courted the uptight British dame. But is there a SEP hero who doesn't make me smile, no.

Dave, again, I didn't quite like what the Dempsey kids laid on their older sister. Sure liked the Mayor of Temptation tho and he made me laugh. He was sardonic, sarcastic, funny and self-deprecating: one of my fave heroes. Also liked the humour of the Nora Roberts hero in Carnal Innocence: he sure had a southern drawl way of approaching life with nothing ever making him break a sweat.
Donna Cummings
3. Donna Cummings
@Keira--I'm so thrilled to hear that someone else loves Beauvallet the way that I do! @JanetW--I always love your recommendations. :) And I'd like to think you would enjoy Beauvallet. So let me know what you think when you have a chance to read him. I haven't actually read the latest Izzy book, so that was an interesting observation. I'll let you know MY reaction after I've read it. (I've been saving it because I don't want to acknowledge that the series is done. LOL) I also liked Welcome to Temptation--that could have easily been included, and all of SEP's heroes are members emeritus of the My Favorite Boyfriend club. :)
Janga
4. Janga
I'll have to give Beauvallet another try,Donna. It's not one of my Heyer favorites.

Gilbert Blythe from L. M. Montgomery's Anne books and Joe Willard from Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy books were the first heroes who stole my heart.
Donna Cummings
5. Donna Cummings
@Janga -- The last time I re-read Beauvallet, the language threw me a little bit, and I'm not sure if it's because that's how Elizabethan folks spoke, or if it was because the book was written in the 1920s, and it was how Ms. Heyer thought Elizabethan folks spoke. LOL I do enjoy it, though, and would love to hear how you see it. And I don't think I've read the Maud Hart Lovelace books, so I love seeing that recommendation. @Keira and @JanetW -- I apologize for my comments to the two of you getting commingled like that! I'm not sure what I did. :)
Sigrun
6. Ranurgis
I first read Beauvallet more than 50 years ago and at the time enjoyed it more than the more sedate Regencies, although they didn't fall far short. As a teenager I liked a little more action than was present in the latter. I also found an old copy of The Black Moth, which I found equally intriguing. I guess there were no copies available anywhere near me of the other early books until they were republished sometime in the late 1970s. In fact, I don't have The Great Roxhythe even now, one of 6 such listed at fictiondb.com. There are a few others I haven't read yet, but they are currently in storage and unattainable. Unfortunately, I don't remember Beauvallet himself very much. But I definitely like heroes who don't take themselves too seriously and with whom you can laugh. I'll definitely have to reread it soon (from the library).

I guess one of my favorite male characters was in one of the first more "adult" books I read: Luke in Gwen Bristow's Celia Garth. Luke is a daring spy during the Revolutionary War. He meets Celia, a
milliner's apprentice who is recruited as a spy by Francis Marion, and becomes their go-between in Charleston. Luke represented to me everything that was kind, noble and courageous and I guess I still look for these qualities. He may not meet all the "alpha" requirements, but I don't like men who tend to ride roughshod over others, and fortunately, not all alphas do.

Brockmann's Izzy is a bit of an anomaly for me. There are certainly times when I haven't liked him very much, but after he offered to marry Eden, because of the way she was being treated by her brother, her so-called boyfriend, and the rest of her family. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of his story.
Sigrun
7. Ranurgis
Ooh, Race de Vere--definitely one of my favorite characters ever. I was rooting bigtime for his being able to marry a worthy lady despite his less than noble birth. And yes, he too was very heroic.
Donna Cummings
8. Donna Cummings
@Ranurgis -- I hope you enjoy the re-read of Beauvallet. I couldn't buy a copy for a long time, so whenever I saw a used one, I would buy it, so now I have about 4 copies. LOL I am amazed that it was written 80 years ago, but it still feels fresh to me, even though I've read it zillions of times. And I can definitely see the appeal of Luke's qualities. :) Izzy can be a bit of a wild card, I agree. I think that's part of the reason he intrigues me, because he has that tender, noble heart underneath that zany stuff he displays. LOL Thanks for all the great info and reading suggestions!
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