Book Review

Doc Turtle’s Infamous Army

Title: An Infamous Army
Author: Georgette Heyer
Genre: Regency

Book CoverWe wish you a Merry Christmas, and some awesome reviews!

Ladies and gentlemen, the hottest Math professor reviewing romance: DocTurtle! Additional Chapters! Intrigue! Subterfuge! Sarcasm! It’s Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army, chapters 4-8.

Onward, ho!  In more ways than one.  In the chapters currently under consideration, the rakish Lady Barbara Childe plays a central role as, with no effort at all, she lures upstanding military man Colonel Charles Audley to the center of her wicked web.  Before the play-by-play commences, a bit of color commentary in the form of a mea culpa: Audley is indeed the brother-in-law of Lady Judith Worth, and not her brother.  My bad.  I must have lost my eyes in Bab Childe’s cleavage.

Chapter 4.  Where were we?  Ah, yes!  A ball…

The soirée at the Hôtel de Ville continues.  Colonel Charles Audley takes Lady Barbara “Bab” Childe for a spin around the dance floor.  Once there, homeboy wastes no time in coming right to the point: “ ‘I love you,’ replied the Colonel.”

Wow…these two have said a whole…let’s see…twelve lines to one another before this one.

Of course, eight pages later he’s helping the much plainer Lucy Devenish with the lace of her gown (“I made sure you would prick me at least!”  Hee hee!  Yes, I do have the mind of a twelve-year-old sometimes), which had come undone in the heat of her parting with her besotted escort.  But after the party’s over, morning comes, and Charles tracks Bab down in the Allée Verte, where she is wont to take her matinal ride.  Here he meets Bab’s suitor, Monsieur le Comte de Lavisse, and they share a civil three-way exchange the subtext of which can be summed as follows:

“Yo, honey.”

“Yo, Count.”

“Yo.  Back off.”

The chapter ends with Bab more smitten with Charles than she’d like to admit…have we a shrew-taming in the works?

Chapter 5.  War!  Huh!  Good God, y’all!  What is it good for?

The next thirteen pages consist almost entirely of meticulous preparations for the imminent battle, as the Duke of Wellington, with unrivaled patriotic fervor, continually excoriates every soldier but the British soldier: “Besides all these foreign troops, there were the British, who must be used as a stiffening for the whole.”  Blah blah blah.  Et cetera.  I’ll spare the Bitchery the details, as many of y’all have confessed to skimming such chapters in order to get to the more juicy stuff.  Speaking of which…
Chapter 6.  More juicy stuff

Bab makes a showing at another swanky ball, and, true to form, finds herself at the center of a gang of suitors who attempt to snatch a rose from her fingertips.  Who succeeds?  Why, our classy Colonel, of course.  “I did not bargain on a man of you inches,” says Bab.  Surely no double entendre was intended?

Bab is intent on showing just how bad she can be, flirting, sassing, throwing around such dastardly unladylike language as “dashed” and “deuce” and “curst.”  How awful!  However, her half-hearted attempt to parry Audley’s amorous thrusts meets with failure as she finds herself engaged to the Colonel by the chapter’s end.

My question for my readers: can anyone make sense of the metaphor “to squint like a bag of nails”?

Chapter 7.  The friends and families of the happy couple rejoice

Ha ha, just kidding!  No one, yet no one, thinks the affair is bound to last.  Bab’s and Charles’s friends and family waste no time in showering the newly betrothed with suitable well-wishings and assorted felicitations:

“Impossible!  No, no, you’re joking!” insists Judith Worth.

“What’s that?  Engaged?  Nonsense!” offers Lord Vidal, Bab’s brother.

“Barbara!  The disastrous Lady Barbara Childe!” declares the Prince himself.

Nevertheless, the pair proceed to sell the arrangement as best they can, which isn’t very well at first, seeing as she’s a consummate flirt and he’s a penniless staff officer.

I shouldn’t leave this chapter behind without mentioning that much of the action here takes place at another goddamned ball with all of Brussels’s best and brightest in attendance.  Don’t these people get tired of dancing?

Chapter 8.  A family affair

Charles will soon be off on an inspection tour, but not before he has a chance to join his fiancée and family for a stroll in the park.  M. Comte de Lavisse comes along too, hoping to place a fly in the cooing couple’s ointment.  The Colonel’s coolness throws him off, though, and the Count’s attempts to provoke his rival’s jealousy (aided by Bab’s attempts to do the same) fail miserably.

This chapter’s literary highlight comes on pages 126-127, in which Heyer executes her most skillful literary device yet, comparing the three lovers to the swans to which they throw cake crumbs.

So, how’s it going so far?  Meh.  The writing is exquisite, the story dull.  This is almost the antithesis of my last read, in which earthy, often pedestrian language told a fast-paced action-packed story whose conclusion had to be reached in 40% of the pages An infamous army has got.  It’s entertaining enough, and I’ll surely see it to its end, but I can’t help thinking there’s something else out there that can offer a creditable mix of the two genres the kindly folks at SBTB have inflicted on me.

Ruh Roh, Bitchery readers. We might have to come up with more romance to inflict upon poor DocTurtle. What a tragedy that would be, right? Except NOT at all.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ocy says:

    This man needs to read some Joanna Bourne, stat.

  2. 2

    Suggest some m/m and watch his head explode :)

  3. 3
    Ezri says:

    If I might suggest for a good mixing of romance and action reading, try the Crusie/Meyer
    writing duo.  She’s a romance author and he writes Army action books.  Together they’re
    comic genius with death by alligator or mob weddings thrown in.  On their website they
    describe their writing process which involves negotiations along the lines of, “I’d like them
    to talk about their relationship…” …. “well, I’d like someone to be eaten by an alligator.”
    ….“Ok, deal.”

    I’d vote to start with “Agnes and the Hitman” – which begins with death by frying pan
    and continues through murder, botched mob jobs, a flamingo themed wedding and a
    cooking column titled “Cranky Agnes” that I only wish was real.  I work at a bookstore
    and this made the rounds among the all the staff, both guys and girls.  It’s laugh out
    loud funny and has me checking regularly in desperate hope that they’ve written another.

    Here’s their website if you’d like to check it out:

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    You know, Agnes and the Hitman might be right up DocTurtle’s alley. Hmm – thanks for the suggestion!

  5. 5
    darlynne says:

    I’ll second Cruisie’s and Joanna Bourne’s books, and also suggest Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. If we’re supposed to go back to examples of category, however, how about Jessica Bird’s The Billionaire Next Door?

  6. 6
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    I’d suggest another, less real-history oriented Heyer:  Friday’s Child, perhaps, or Cotillion, or The Grand Sophy—one that really showcases Heyer’s gift for all-out comedy.

  7. 7
    Kay Webb Harrison says:

    IMO, the absolute funniest Heyer is The Unknown Ajax.

    As to the rapidityof Charles and Bab’s falling in love, hadn’t they met and fallen in love in England? They couldn’t marry because they both were financially challenged? Didn’t she marry someone else, who died? Isn’t she a widow when she meets Charles again?


  8. 8
    Caty M says:

    Bab was indeed a widow, but she and Charles hadn’t met before.  She’d been married off at 17 to a man three times her own age, and was widowed at 22.  Charles is a lot keener on her than she is on him in the beginning.

    The Unknown Ajax and Cotillion are both wonderful, and very funny.  And I think Agnes and the Hitman would be a good choice, too.

  9. 9
    Monique says:

    May I suggest The Hunter (Gennita Low).  Double entendres and sassy exploits mixed with hard hitting action and some hot er… romance.  ;)

  10. 10
    Leslie says:

    If we establish good Regencies as possible exemplars of well-done romantic fiction, how about a Carla Kelly, Loretta Chase, or Mary Balogh Signet? Good writing, usually some intrigue or action, great characters…
    Now I am off to sell books to the jolly Christmas Eve throngs!

  11. 11
    Suze says:

    Is it possible that DocTurtle has not yet glimpsed the wonder that is: KINSALE?  Or would that just ruin him?

  12. 12
    JennyME says:

    Let’s stop fooling around. The man needs to read some Loretta Chase.

  13. 13
    Venus Vaughn says:

    He’s read a category, he’s reading a historical, now I think it’s time for a single title contemporary.  I’m trying to think of one, but can’t remember the last time I read a non-paranormal contemporary…  and I think a paranormal just might make his head explode. 

    I don’t know that a Crusie / Meyer title is representative of romances, though, and isn’t that the point? 

    How about Erin McCarthy?  I read Mouth to Mouth and can recommend that.  Or one of Crusie’s title’s under her own name.

  14. 14
    AgTigress says:

    I was a little surprised by the choice of An Infamous Army as an exemplar of Heyer, to be honest.  She was very much in ‘serious historian’ mode with that one, and I think the story suffers because of it.  To me, it is one of the least readable of her books.  There are so many others – including those mentioned here – that would have given a better insight into the essential Heyer, who, more than anything else, is very, very funny.  Some of the final set-piece scenes are farce, as in P.G.Wodehouse, whom she occasionally resembles in her characterisations, rather than mere comedy.  And I do hope the good professor is fully aware of the writing conventions (and obscenity laws) which made it impossible to have sex scenes in novels published prior to the 1960s.
    I have to disagree with the recommendation of a Crusie/Meyer collaboration.  I haven’t read the second one, because I loathed the first one so much.  Agnes and the Hitman may be better than Don’t Look Down (one would hope so, at any rate), but none of Crusie’s collaborative efforts, with Meyer or with other writers, come within hailing distance of the quality of her earlier solo books.

  15. 15
    Chanel19 says:

    Come on, throw him a bone.

    Brockmann, Howard, or Leigh.

    I dare ya.

    spamword:  built59—Rome wasn’t built in a day, it might take 59 romances for this to take.

  16. 16
    robinjn says:

    I think he must read the Blahck Dhaggar Brotherhood…

    I too think Infamous Army was not the best Heyer choice. I see why it was made, because of the historical research and war theme. But even for Heyer fans it can be some really dry reading. I second the Grand Sophy or would put in for my favorite, Devil’s Cub.

    But honestly. If we want to hit him with Romance, how could we do better than dah brothers?

  17. 17
    Robin says:

    I’d be interested in his reaction to Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady.

    This is starting to look like some very weird experiment—like how Erik Erikson used to experiment on his kids, only not as perverse, lol.

  18. 18

    Bourne is a good read, but if the Doc knows history, that might put him off a tad.
    I’d give him a better Heyer (Venetia, Black Sheep, The Grand Sophy, Frederica with its infamous historical error), or a Kinsale – Flowers From the Storm, Shadow and the Star, Shadowheart, or the meticulous For My Lady’s Heart.
    For contemporaries, maybe a Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a Brockmann or a Howard. Top of the game stuff. Or even a Jilly Cooper or a Phillippa Astley. One of Amanda Grange’s Austen sequels?

  19. 19
    Fran Walker says:

    How about one of the gothics for the Doc?  Mary Stewart wrote a bunch of ‘em that are quite good, such as “Touch Not The Cat” and “Moonspinners.”

  20. 20
    HaloKun says:

    I agree with the Cruise/Meyer suggestion.  That might have been a better way to “bridge the gap” in the first place.  I think he is enjoying this experiment though. 

    1st stop DocTurtle, Next stop the world!

    Merry Kwannukahmas!  And Happy New Year Smart Bitches!

  21. 21
    Venus Vaughn says:

    AgTigress- Agnes and the Hitman was waaaaaaay better than Don’t Look Down.  If you can stand to take the plunge again, I do recommend it.

    If we’re gonna give him an SEP, I recommend Breathing Room.

  22. 22
    Robin says:

    Bourne is a good read, but if the Doc knows history, that might put him off a tad.

    Why?  I know there’s some really over the top stuff with Annique’s antics, but what’s wrong with the novel’s historicity?

  23. 23
    AgTigress says:

    AgTigress- Agnes and the Hitman was waaaaaaay better than Don’t Look Down.  If you can stand to take the plunge again, I do recommend it.

    I may try it when it is in paperback, then.  Or is it already in paperback? 
    But I also made the mistake of reading the Crusie-with-two-other-authors’ head-bangingly frightful load of silly tripe, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, which convinced me that the hopelessness of Don’t Look Down wasn’t necessarily Bob Mayer’s fault (I can never remember whether he is Mayer or Meyer):  I think it is simply that Crusie Should Not Collaborate.  Whether she brings out any good in other writers, I don’t know, but they most certainly do not bring out the best in her.
    At the moment, in my opinion, at least, her best, most interesting and funniest writing is in her blog.

  24. 24
    Anna Lawrence says:

    Heyer’s wasted on this guy. Give him Barbara Cartland, or some other dreck, it’s all he deserves.

  25. 25
    Ezri says:

    Hi, popping back in again.  “Agnes and the Hitman” is out in mass market for those who are looking.  I’d have to agree that it’s far better than the first collaboration.  They’ve really got their feet under them in that one; the story really moves.  AgTigress, please don’t judge the lot by the Miss Fortunes book- go for “Bet Me” instead – it’s a much better Crusie. 

    I’d also agree with the rest of the suggestions out there.  Loretta Chase would definitely be an excellent bet.  “Mr. Impossible” would probably be my pick- it’s just all around good on all points. It’s one of those books that is always fresh even after I’m on the tenth reread. 

    I think that it’s great that Doc Turtle’s trying a whole new genre though :)  It’s pretty brave of him.  Happy reading Doc!

  26. 26
    AgTigress says:

    AgTigress, please don’t judge the lot by the Miss Fortunes book- go for “Bet Me” instead – it’s a much better Crusie.

    Don’t worry;  I don’t.  :-)  I had read every one of Crusie’s books since Manhunting appeared in 1993 (well, 1994 in the UK):  Agnes and the Hitman was the very first in those 13-14 years that I didn’t bother with at all, because its predecessor was so terrible.  Bet Me is not actually one of my favourites, though it has its moments.

    I second the suggestion of Loretta Chase, and specifically of Mr.Impossible, which I think is a brilliantly crafted and very satisfying novel with some terrific characters.  The historical research is excellent, too, in an unobtrusive, subtle way.

  27. 27
    SonomaLass says:

    I thought An Infamous Army was a good choice for someone more interested in history, but I can see Doc’s not loving that part.  My guess is that he’d read another Heyer, though, if he likes her writing as much as he says.

    I agree that Loretta Chase would be an excellent choice.  I thought that Your Scandalous Ways was very good, and better than Bourne’s Spymaster’s Lady.

  28. 28
    RfP says:

    I have to disagree with the recommendation of a Crusie/Meyer collaboration.  I haven’t read the second one, because I loathed the first one so much.  Agnes and the Hitman may be better than Don’t Look Down (one would hope so, at any rate), but none of Crusie’s collaborative efforts, with Meyer or with other writers, come within hailing distance of the quality of her earlier solo books.

    AgTigress, I agree on the collaborations—except Agnes and the Hitman; in that one I think they found their feet.  Agnes does remind me of single-author Crusies.  The hero’s a bit of a cipher, but the heroine’s somewhere between Faking It and Bet Me.

    It sounds like Doc Turtle’s realizing how much variety there is in romance.  I take this as a request for a Really Good Book, any sort, so I think anything that’s romance is fair game at this point:

    I can’t help thinking there’s something else out there that can offer a creditable mix of the two genres the kindly folks at SBTB have inflicted on me.

    Doc Turtle may never become a romance junkie, so just pick out something distinctive so he gets an interesting selection of the genre.  Alternatively, since selecting a book for someone else is tricky, you might do better by letting him make his own selection from a list.

  29. 29
    DocTurtle says:

    Anna Lawrence: Did I run over your dog accidentally?  I hope I’ve not come across as a Heyer-hater, for I’m finding her a very good writer, I’m just not all that intrigued by the plot.

    SonomaLass: It’s not the history per se that’s turning me off, it’s that the only history with which An infamous army deals (at least so far) is troop movement.  I am an avid reader of straight, unficitionalized, history on many different topics, and I have no objections to historical novels in general…I’m just bored by this particular treatment of this particular subject.

    Indeed, there’s no denying that Georgette Heyer writes exceedingly well, and I’m actually up for taking on another of her more well-recommended humorous works.  What’s her best, do you think?  I’ve seen a few dozen of her titles bandied about this site in the last few weeks, but is there one that truly stands out?

    HaloKun: As I’ve told SB Sarah, and as many of y’all have suspected since the beginning of Sex, straight up, I am enjoying myself.  Yes, yes, there, I said it.  I’m having a good time, and I’m learning a lot and enjoying y’all’s feedback and support.

    Would y’all be willing to take me on as a guest reviewer?

  30. 30
    Elyssa says:

    Oh, please have Doc Tuttle on as a guest reviewer!  I love his reviews and commentary.

    Doc Tuttle, I’ve only read The Grand Sophy so far by Georgette Heyer (I, too, have never read a Heyer until a few weeks ago) and really liked it. So maybe that’s a good place to start???

    And for Single Title contemporary recs . . . definitely a SEP book such as Natural Born Charmer or Match Me If You Can. I haven’t read Agnes and the Hitman, but I’ve heard that the novel is very funny. But, if you want to do a Jennifer Crusie novel, why not Welcome to Temptation?

    For a historical romance novel, what about Jo Beverly and her Malloren series—-I just read My Lady Notorious for the first time ever and am waiting impatiently for the second book to arrive (had to buy it used because I couldn’t find it new anywhere). Plus, Jo Bev has lots of historical details and keeps the pace going.

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