It took sixteen books, but in The Convenient Marriage Heyer finally created the voice and tone that she would later use to create her Regency world: arch, ironic, frothy, and sharp, combining high drama with moments of farce, sharp comments on interior decorating, and perhaps above all, a world created in part through precise and hilarious descriptions of elaborate clothes. (For years, Heyer would assure readers that clothes make the character, in more ways than one.) Here, too, are the characters she would use, with alterations, in so many Regency books: the seemingly lazy but always impeccably dressed aristocratic hero; the warm hearted, often heedless young heroine (later replaced by or matched with a somewhat older, practical heroine); and a secondary cast of amusing fops and fools, focused largely on clothes and entertainment, with at least one practical person around to provide just a touch of common sense. Above all, the novel sparkles with humor and misdirection: this is, hands down, Heyer’s frothiest and most amusing book yet, a solid sign for where she would go from here.
It may come, then, as a bit of a shock to realize that The Convenient Marriage, in many ways the first of Heyer’s Regency novels, is not set in the Regency period at all, but rather the Georgian, a world that Heyer recognized as considerably more free in many ways than later periods, particularly for women, a social truth that she strongly exploits in this book.
[Double standards in the Georgian period, and clinging to snobbery.]