Book Review

DocTurtle Reads More Heyer

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

Book CoverDocTurtle, the math professor with the golden compass and a long, long winter break, is back with more Heyer.

Part 3: Chapters 9 through 13

Oh, the intrigue!  This most recent installment of my Regency Romance Cliff’s Notes finds Bab flirting with Peregrine Taverner, her brother flirting with Lucy Devenish, Charles more and more busied by the buzzing of a quick-coming war, and the Duke of Wellington continuing to bitch about how ill-prepared is his infamous army for Napoleon “Don’t Call Me ‘Boney’” Bonaparte’s onslaught of Belgium.

Chapter 9.  Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

We continue on a jaunty country outing with several of our story’s principles.  Charles having been spirited away by his military duties, he entrusts Lady Barbara to his family in order that her going abroad with M. le Comte de Lavisse will not be misinterpreted by the prying public.  And so to a charming Château near Merbe Braine on the Nivelles Road go Bab, Lady Judith, Peregrine Taverner and his Harriet, the Count, and all of their assorted footmen and retainers.  What a way to go!

A hint of foreshadowing frames their merrymaking, as en route to their destination the party passes a small village named (dum dum DUUUUM!) Waterloo.

Oh, yeah, and Harriet’s miffed that should she permit him to do so Peregrine would gallop off after the ever-enchanting Bab.

Chapter 10.  This book’s got more rakes than Home Depot’s lawn and garden section

When Lord George Alastair, Bab’s older brother, makes landfall in Belgium, his first stop is at his family’s home on the Rue Ducale.  Finding his younger sister is out, he hunts her down at the Worth’s where yet another ball is taking place.  He doesn’t make it past the foyer before setting his sights on that vision of unassuming loveliness, Lucy Devenish.

It would seem that George and Lucy had met before in Britain:

  “It was a little more than that.  I became acquainted with him when I was staying in Brighton with my cousins last year.  There was a degree of intimacy which—which I could not avoid.”  Her voice failed.  Judith suspected that the attentions of a dashing young officer had not been wholly unwelcome.  She had not doubt that Lord George has speedily overstepped the bounds of propriety, and understood, with ready sympathy, Lucy’s feelings upon being confronted with him again.  (p. 165)

What, he saw her wrists?!?  Oh noes!

All joking aside, our Lucy’s finding herself in quite the pretty pickle.

Chapter 11.  Blücher!

I can’t be the only one who thinks of Young Frankenstein on mention of the Prussian General.

One of the commenters on Judge a Book By Its Cover found it hard to keep track of all of the names being bandied about.  You ain’t kiddin’, sister!  Chapter 11, in which we’re subjected to yet more war preparations and—quelle surprise!—a ball! piles on more names than the Book of Genesis.

But if you’re a fan of eye-gougingly, hair-pullingly punctilious (and doubtless historically accurate) description of military dress, this chapter’s for you.  Ms. Heyer could outfit a member of the Brunswick Light Dragoons with her eyes closed.

Most amusing-when-taken-out-of-context line (a.k.a., Vietnamese cuisine only goes so far): “Pho!  A precious lot of comfort we shall have when we go into action!”

Chapter 12.  More o’ the same

We begin with twelve straight pages of military movements, army massings, and other assorted martial goings-on.  The whole narrative is tied together with the Duke’s everlasting exasperated ejaculations: “I have got an infamous army, very weak, and ill-equipped, and a very inexperienced staff,” and “Matters look a little serious on the frontier.”

For once Bab says something agreeable: “I can’t think.  I’m bored to tears, Charles!…I am tired of your duty, Charles.  It is so tedious!”  As Charles can’t bring himself to forgo an appearance at a cavalry party at Lord Uxbridge’s, he begs that Bab take Peregrine Taverner as her escort to a quiet suburban boîte in his stead.  Oh, how the tongues will wag!

Meanwhile, the roué Lord George Alastair presses his case with Lucy Devenish, “that chit whose name I never can remember.”

Chapter 13.  Girls just wanna have fun

Despite Charles’s assertion that married life will not prove an impediment to Lady Barbara’s helter-skelter social life, she’s out to get in all the fun she can before being burdened by the marital yoke.  She fulfills her suburban assignation with Perry Taverner, and oh how the sparks do fly!

Harriet Taverner, having suspected Bab of trying to lure her hubby away since the picnic in Chapter 9, is piiiiiiissed.  There are several pagefuls of back-and-forth and he-said-she-said, all amounting to little more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.  Things come to a head at the chapter’s close when Harriet publicly snubs Bab, and suddenly the suburban affair (which even Lady Judith Worth takes to “signify nothing”) is poised to become the stuff of Belgian backroom legend.

Oh, and Lord George Alastair is still a rake.


Uncle, uncle!  Tell me, Smart Bitches, what have I done to deserve this?  Is this the punishment I earned with my unfortunate “bodice-ripper” comments from so long ago?

O’Reilly’s Sex, Straight Up wasn’t much to my taste, and it was often silly, but it was therefore fun.  This?  This is just dull.  She’s more concerned with troop movements and hussars’ fringes and frogging than with putting together a plot more complicated than “oh yeah, Bab’s flirting causes chaos.”  There’s not even all that much to snark.

Why couldn’t you have offered me one of Heyer’s more Wodehousian titles to read?

My next assignment had better be more…well, more something.  I’m dyin’ over here!


Poor DocTurtle. He needs some hussar fringe. And we’ll have to pick a third novel for him to read, don’t you think?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Chapter 10.  This book’s got more rakes than Home Depot’s lawn and garden section

    I think I’m in love.

  2. 2
    AQ says:

    Any rules or criteria other than romance on the spine? Or can we include books that ‘we’ think of as romance even though they aren’t marketed that way by the publisher and/or the author?

    Perhaps now that DocTurtle has two examples he could narrow the scope a bit. Considering that the genre is so large.

    Are we looking for something relatively new? Contemporary, paranormal, historical, futuristic, erotic? Or should we be coming up with a title from each of the major subgenres?

    (just an aside: Love his commentary!! Would love to see more collaborations between DocTurtle & the Smart Bitches – maybe even occasional joint cover snarks on both your sites or…)

  3. 3
    AQ says:

    Added: What I also meant to include above is what is the goal of DocTurtle’s next book? Is it to find a ‘romance’ that might fall within his reading cuppa, to see how he reacts to beloved favorite, to get his take on one of our craptastic crack addictions?

    I know my goal is to be entertained which is why I’m part of the audience here. But what’s the goal here? I know that if the goal is only fun and frivolity I’d love to hear his take on one of the Ward’s early Brotherhood books, especially in regards to homo-erotic tension AND strength (or IMO weakness) of the heroines. These books aren’t my cuppa but I’d love to hear a male’s take on them. Especially one so well versed in analysis and snark as DocTurtle.

  4. 4
    Anna Lawrence says:

    Pearls before swine, if you ask me.

  5. 5
    robinjn says:

    Anna thinks Doc Turtle is swine? Can a turtle also belong to the swine family? I don’t think so.

    I think Infamous Army is perhaps the most boring of Heyer’s novels too. Guess that means I’m swine.

    I say give him Heyer’s Devil’s Cub, Frederica, or Venetia. And Outlander.

  6. 6
    kaetchen says:

    Chapter 11.  Blücher

    I’m sorry, Doc Turtle, but I think you may mean Inspector Kemp. Frau Bluecher (whiiiiiiiiiiny!) was the housekeeper.

    Hope all are warm and dry.

    Kat (who is still snowed in – in Seattle – and hasn’t seen a postal worker for a week).

  7. 7
    kaetchen says:

    Oh, forgot to add: I completely agree about the book. Not my cup of tea, either (Yawn).

    Kat (who is thilled that her new avatar worked – Squeee!!)

  8. 8
    Amanda says:

    LORD OF SCOUNDRELS! LORD OF SCOUNDRELS!

    That is all.

  9. 9
    Madd says:

    I’ve got to say, I like me some Heyer, but this book is my least favorite of all her books.

    I recall Doc Turtle commenting that he was more into character driven books. More emotional motivation rather than action.

    I would suggest, if you’re going historical, Flowers from the Storm. Bonus? The hero is a Mathematician! A brilliant mathematician who happens to be hot.

    The first half of Acheron had me bawling my eyeballs right out of my head, if you’re going to go for something more paranormal like. And it goes from historical to contemporary.

    And I’ll second Amanda’s recommendation for Lord of Scoundrels.

  10. 10
    Carmen says:

    I must confess that I never finished this book either. It bored me to tears.

    I think he should read a Kinsale, but not the one in Ye Olde English, perhaps The Shadow and the Star, or Flowers from the Storm? If Doc wants a lighter one, how about Midsummer Moon?

  11. 11
    Suze says:

    I do think we need to continue assigning Doc Turtle books to read, and we must assign him something fun and enjoyable.  Light and fluffy, even.  And if he’s willing to be a guest reviewer, I say let’s bring him on!  We can call him Doc Bitch Turtle.

    I’m tempted to second the Ward suggestion, because those books are crhackh.  However, I’d prefer that we find something that is enjoyable AND less flawed.  He’s a pretty good sport, but we can’t be abusing him.  And it’s not going to help our cause if, having found someone willing to read our addiction with an open mind, we give him books that are good but

    What’s the last book you read that had you laughing out loud?  Because my memory’s going for shyte, the only ones I can remember are early Stephanie Plums.  I know there’s more out there, I just can’t remember them.

  12. 12

    Do we need to stick with historical? What if he gets a contemporary (or futuristic) with some spies or cops in it? La Nora’s “Naked in Death,” “Northern Lights” or “Blue Smoke,” or possibly a Linda Howard like “All the Queen’s Men?” Merline Lovelace and Cindy Dees do great military romance (always a personal fave).

    For light and fluffy, like Suze recommended above, I would say Susan Donovan’s “Knock Me Off My Feet” or Susan Mallery’s restaurant series that started with “Delicious.”

  13. 13
    Madd says:

    We can call him Doc Bitch Turtle.

    How about “Smart Doc Turtle,  Bitches!”

    Yes, I’m still on the flu meds.

  14. 14
    joanne says:

    You must give the Doc Turtle a paranormal to read;  the juicier the better!  I’d love to read his take on relations between humans and vampires/werewolves/aliens/shapeshifting tigers/angels/demons/ducks/you-name-it.  Ward’s a good start (just the heroes’ names and their spellings should inspire DT’s wit), but I’m not picky. 

    Pretty please with sugar-plums on top?

  15. 15
    Hortense Powdermaker says:

    we’ll have to pick a third novel for him to read, don’t you think?

    Yes, third time’s a charm! I suggest Jennifer Crusie – either Bet Me, or Welcome to Temptation.

  16. 16
    Egads says:

    I’d give him Gabaldon’s Outlander.

  17. 17
    Rachel says:

    I second Crusie!  Bet Me or Agnes and the Hitman (with Mayer).  I know about half a dozen people who claim to hate romance as a genre and yet love Jennifer Crusie.

  18. 18
    Madd says:

    I’d love to read his take on relations between humans and vampires/werewolves/aliens/shapeshifting tigers/angels/demons/ducks/you-name-it.

    I can just imagine the awesomeness now.

    I would go for something stand alone or something that isn’t part of a long series, so there isn’t a lot of back story to worry about and none of those hanging endings.

  19. 19
    joanne says:

    I’m still sticking with my paranormal request, but if not, I’ll go with Amanda’s suggestion of “Lord of Scoundrels.”  Great book!  I know lots of people love “Outlander,” but I found it deadly dull.

  20. 20
    Suze says:

    I know lots of people love “Outlander,” but I found it deadly dull.

    I agree.  I can’t read Gabaldon.

  21. 21
    Madd says:

    I loved Outlander, and the rest of the books in the series. Reading it, though, is an ordeal. It’s emotionally wrenching, but the endings are too open, you kind of have to reading the next book to feel you’ve gotten anywhere. I think that for the challenge you need something that you can feel you’ve finished reading at the end of the book.

  22. 22
    El says:

    Frau Blücher… Neigh-heigh-heigh-heigh-heigh!

    infinitely looped. (Loopy?)
    A delightfully silly movie.

  23. 23
    kaetchen says:

    How about “Smart Doc Turtle, Bitches!”

    that. kicks. ass.

  24. 24
    Silver James says:

    I vote Agnes and the Hitman or Michele Bardsley’s I’m the Vampire, That’s Why – vampires, humor AND history (sort of).

    I want to keep Smart Doc Turtle, Bitches! around. He is made of all sorts of awesome! Let’s give him some humor to go with the romance. (Though…being an Eve Dallas fangirl, Naked in Death is always a fave!)

  25. 25
    AQ says:

    I don’t know. Gabaldon doesn’t consider Outlander a romance (yes, I know it won a Rita). She considers it a straight historical novel and she states that she doesn’t write romance. (another discussion I’m sure). As far as Crusie concerned, I throughly enjoy her stories but I don’t consider Agnes & the Hitman to be ‘Romance’ as it’s typically marketed in the US. It’s definitely got a strong romance in it though (not the no#1 plot thread IMO) and was loads of fun but I don’t see Romance on the spine or part of the LOC designation. To me it’s more of a mad-cap romantic mystery caper. Same thing with JD Robb’s In Death series. I enjoy them but I find them in the mystery section of my bookstore not in the romance section.

    I guess that’s why I asked the question above about romance on the spine or stories we personally think are romances. Is the intent of DocTurtle’s assignments still to prove that Romances are more than bodice rippers or is it just to have some fun and get his take? If it’s the former, then I think the story chosen needs to clearly labeled as a romance. If it’s the later, then I’m open for anything since DocTurtle’s take is so much fun.

    Oh, and will this be the last assignment or will DocTurtle be a somewhat-regular feature?

    I’d vote for DocTurtle Bitch. And although I voted for Ward, I’d also enjoy something that’s completely new. Something that the rest of us could play and read along with. Just some thoughts.

  26. 26
    Corrine says:

    Yes, third time’s a charm! I suggest Jennifer Crusie – either Bet Me, or Welcome to Temptation.

    Definitely Bet Me if you’re going for contemporaries.

    I think Lord of Scoundrels would be great choice as well. Flowers from the Storm, while excellent, might be have a little too much detail to follow up this current read. Plus, Jessica Trent is the. best. romance. heroine… Ever.

  27. 27
    Spider says:

    Crouching Turtle, Hidden Bitch?

    As far as suggestions go, I’d love to see him rhip uhp a paranorhmal, or two.

  28. 28
    robinjn says:

    Since I’ve just now started it (don’t know how I missed it at the time) and since it’s a historical and is the quintessential Romance theme of girl-kidnapped-by-pirates, hence right in with the potential ripping of a bodice, I am officially changing my recommendation to The Windflower. Does it not epitomize what we think of as great romance? And with humor but also with romance as a theme?

    And I think I already said this but I’d love to see the Doc as a guest reviewer.

  29. 29
    Alpha Lyra says:

    I vote for “Bet Me.” I loved that book, and if he’s looking for something fun, I think it qualifies.

  30. 30
    Joanne says:

    Two Joannes? I need a board name. I’ll be Bitchy Joanne…

    So true, even Heyer could write a snoozer every once in a while.

    My vote is for throwing the whole romance genre at Doc with Shelly Laurenston’s PACK CHALLENGE.

    He’ll get Alpha & Beta females, Alpha & Beta males,  swearing, lots of fighting, shape shifters, excellent & very funny dialogue, hot sex scenes and a story to tell at the water cooler about romance readers.

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