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on 26 April 2008
'Black Sheep' is one of Georgette Heyer's later Regency novels and shows all her skills as a writer, including her much-praised historical accuracy for this period. The 'Black Sheep' of the title is Mr Miles Calverleigh, a gentleman who was sent to India twenty years before after shaming his family. Unfortunately for Miss Abigail Wendover, the absent Mr Calverleigh's nephew Stacy is apparently trying to beguile her spirited niece Fanny in order to get his hands on her fortune. Abigail and her sister Serena have stood as parents toward Fanny for many years but Abigail begins to discover that Fanny has grown up enough to want to rely less on her aunt and more on her own heart.

It is into this situation that Miles Calverleigh steps, having finally returned from India. The first scene between him and Abby, a case of mistaken identity, is a wonderful example of Heyer's skill in writing two spirited and interesting characters. Abigail tries to get Miles to help separate his nephew from her niece but she finds herself thwarted by his apparent lack of interest in the cares of others and his apparent wish to thwart her own strict views on being a support to her own sister which may prevent her from following her heart.

There are some similarities between this book and 'Lady of Quality', also written late in Heyer's career, not least in the age of the heroes and heroines who aren't the youngsters of 'Friday's Child' or 'Cotillion' but are mature people who may perhaps feel that the opportunities in life have passed them by. As usual the side characters are excellent in this story, including the very amusing Mrs Clapham and even the straighlaced James Wendover. This book seems to contain less of the cant phrases that can render some characters in other books almost incomprehensible but the overall standard of dialogue is excellent. 'Black Sheep' makes an excellent introduction to Heyer's Regency novels and can be enjoyed again and again.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
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on 7 March 2007
This story is rather similar to "A lady of Quality", and is much the best of the two. It was written earlier, whilst Georgette Heyer was still at the height of her powers. Abigail Wendover, now in her late twenties, came from a family of rigid propriety, where the happiness of every child has been ruthlessly sacrificed to advantageous marriages. She now lives with her clinging, hypochondriac eldest sister and their beautiful niece in Bath. Although still largely bound by convention, Abby has always resented it, and longs for the courage to rebel. Determined not to let Fanny (the niece) be similarly crushed by the family, she has brought her up with a considerable amount of freedom, and they are very close. Unfortunately a determined fortune hunter is after Fanny, and the elder sister has also been fooled by him. Enter Miles Calverleigh, the Black Sheep of his family, uncle of the fortune hunter, and the Wendover family's worst nightmare. To her pompous brother's horror, Abigail likes and encourages Miles, despite being frequently exasperated by him. This is a really good one, enjoy!
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I read `Black Sheep' when it was first published and it has lost none of its charm on re-reading. Abigail Wendover is one of Heyer's most endearing older heroines with a great deal of common sense and a disinclination to bow to convention. She lives in Bath with her older sister Selina and their young niece Fanny.

Unfortunately while Abby was away from Bath visiting one of her other sisters, Fanny has become the object of a fortune hunter - Stacy Calverleigh. Stacy's estranged Uncle Miles Calverleigh returns unexpectedly from India and becomes acquainted with Abby who hopes to involve him in her plan to detach Stacy from her niece.

What follows is a lively fast paced plot with some truly memorable characters - Miles Calverleigh himself, the delightful Fanny, hypochondriac Selina and the outrageous Mrs Clapham who plays a small but important part in the story. As ever the plot is intriguing and characters realistic and Bath society is well portrayed. The dialogue is witty and entertaining and many of the incidents are really funny. This is a feel good story ideal for these winter evenings. It would be a good introduction to Georgette Heyer's work for anyone who has not read any of her books before as I think it is possibly one of her best.
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on 28 January 2017
Starting off the year with an easy read (actually a re-read!). Heyer never disappoints. While BLACK SHEEP is not one of my top 5 Georgette Heyer regencies, it's a delightful romp packed with very human characters playing out their lives in Heyer's usual exquisitly crafted setting of Regency England. Because this isn't one of my top favourites, I haven't re-read it so often and found little details that I'd forgotten or missed in previous reads. Abigail is a strong but compassionate heroine and, as Miles himself says, everyone loves a rake, & I'm no exception so Miles is a perfect match for Abby!
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on 17 July 2007
I love reading, and if ever I want a book to take me out of myself after a long day, I reach for Georgette Heyer...
On my list of GH favourites, Black Sheep has to rate fairly high. Not only does it capture the feeling of beautiful Regency Bath so well that I feel I am taking a turn about the famous Pump Room and elegant streets myself, but it brings together two infectious characters that I immediately warmed to. Abby the heroine, described by herself as a 'staid old aunt' when in fact she is a stylish witty woman in her late twenties, has never been attracted to any man enough to relinquish her single status. Until, that is, the arrival of the indolent, rakish Miles, the 'Black Sheep' of the noble Calverleigh family banished to hot climates years before for his wild ways. The tale centres on the love story of these two whilst Abby struggles with the guardianship of her wilful, pretty niece, who is heiress to a tidy fortune and being pursued by the slimy if artful Stacy Calverleigh, Miles's impoverished nephew.
A wonderful story with a good mix of humour and some nice little twists provided by cheeky Miles. Get comfortable, open the book and enjoy!
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on 27 September 2010
I've recently come back to Georgette Heyer after many, many years and I'm really enjoying reading old favourites over again. If I'm stressed or feeling down, I don't want challenging or thought provoking - and I really don't want self-obsessive chick-lit. If books were comfort food, Georgette Heyer would be the best quality chocolate and Black Sheep is one of my favourites.
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on 17 July 2010
Another wonderful tale from Georgette Heyer. Some similarities with other stories, but still a delight. This ranks with the The Faro's Daughter and The Grand Sophie as one of my favourites.
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on 26 July 2015
As always, Ms Heyer's heroines are lively, and her heroes interesting. This tale is set in Regency times, in Bath, and describes the life, weather, assemblies etc, as the main story and sub plots develop. The return of Miles Calverleigh from India allows a twenty year old scandal to resurface and interfere with the lively relationship developing between Miles and Abigail Wendover. Delicately humourous and very slightly farcical, and love eventually conquers all. Lovely light reading.
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on 8 May 2015
As with most others, I thoroughly enjoy Georgette Heyer's books. My only frustration is that they always end so abruptly and Black Sheep is no exception.

It seemed to be the way with films made during and just after WWII that as long as the couple got together it was all right to end. Nowadays the loose ends are tied up much better, as did Austen in her books come to think of it.

Other than that, a good read again.
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on 1 December 2013
This is one of my favourite Heyer books although to be honest I love all her regency novels and detective novels. She writes with wit and humour and her knowledge of the regency period is second to none-loved it!!
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