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REVIEW: The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

Dear Readers,

We did a series of reviews of Georgette Heyer novels here last year and it dawned on me just how many I hadn’t read. A recent comment here about this book mentioned that it was funny and when I remembered that it is a Georgian, that made up my mind as to which of La Heyer’s books I would try next. Carrie G, thank you!

I’m going to pinch this summary from Publisher’s Weekly because to try and get my head around the whole plot would take me a week.


“An impetuous young lady and a fugitive nobleman…
When spirited Eustacie stumbles into a band of smugglers, she is delighted to be having an adventure at last. Their leader, young heir Ludovic Lavenham, is in hiding, falsely accused of murder. Pursued by the law, Eustacie and Ludovic find refuge at an unassuming country inn.

And the delightfully sensible couple who try to keep them out of trouble…
The resourceful Miss Sarah Thane and the clear-thinking Sir Tristram Shield gamely endeavor to prevent Ludovic’s arrest and Eustacie’s ruin as the four conspire to recover the missing talisman ring that will clear Ludovic’s name.”

What fun! When I loaded this ebook on my reader, I was stunned at the length and thinking that it would take me days to get through it but each time I dragged myself away and came up for air, I would be shocked to see how much of the story I’d swallowed in another gulp. The book practically read itself. Though the plot is carefully laid out as to why young Ludovic Lavenham is thought to have murdered someone, and of how events unfolded afterwards, I soon found that these pesky details wafted away as I got caught up in all the memorable characters, witty dialogue, near misses, and delightful romance. And while the charges against young Lavenham are serious and the danger only to real, honestly, it was fairly obvious from early on that nail biting suspense wasn’t really in the cards in this book. No, what captures the imagination is how deftly Heyer weaves the story, working now this part and then that, and how she moves her characters around each other like chess pieces. It’s more a riveted “now what’s going to happen next?!” instead of breathless “omg, someone’s going to die!”

When I read the description of the two sets of characters, I had a flashback to my feelings about the young lovers of “Powder and Patch.” I saw them one way “back in the day” and with maturity, I find that they amuse me as an older woman is charmed by the rashness of Bright Young Things so intensely in love. I had a feeling that Sarah and Tristram would resonate with me more and this is the case. Still Ludovic and Eustacie are like delightful quicksilver. They’re energetic, sometimes rash, hurl themselves into anything and are brave to the point of idiocy at times but you can’t fault their determination or zest. Wanting an Adventure, Eustacie heads off to find it and to avoid a ‘mariage de convenance’ at her dying grandfather’s orders. She wants some Excitement, darn it!, and she’s going to get it. Reading her dramatic imaginings – such as what she’d wear in a tumbril on her way to the guillotine in order to present just the right image or how Tristram would be the type of cold husband who would not ride ventre a terre to her deathbed after being hauled out of a gaming hell – are hilarious. I think, perhaps, the events of the book wise her up just enough that she might not indulge herself in daydreams quite so much from now on. Ludovic is stunned to discover this spitfire, who’s come across him in his role of free trading, is actually a relative but he quickly realizes that she’s the woman for him – almost as soon as she catches on that he’s the one for her. He’s also the type who has to be dragged away from danger and – sometimes forcibly – stuck in a cellar for his own good. One exchange between them says it all. “Don’t you know you’re marrying a ne’er-do-well?” “Certainly I know it. It is just what I always wanted,” she replied. Life with these two will never be dull.

Meanwhile, the romance between Tristram and Sarah is a delight. Here are two thoughtful, intelligent and rational people who at first don’t quite know what to make of each other. Soon, however, they begin to develop a deep appreciation for the talents of the other one – even if Sarah doesn’t draw, something which the men are dumbfounded to learn since all females are taught the skill, aren’t they? Listening to them tease each other with their dry wit and deadpan delivery made my day. I think I enjoyed their courtship more just because it’s not something that gets rushed into or settled immediately. It’s subtle and requires the attention of the reader to catch the little steps forward. The youngsters know in a flash but watching Tristram and Sarah discover each other over the course of saving Ludovic and keeping Eustacie from doing anything foolish is like a nice mug of hot cocoa, sipped while wrapped in a snuggly blanket with someone you love. It’s delicious, romantic and lasting and with the promise of something intense later on. Don’t believe me? Wait for what Tristram says he will make sure is included in their marriage vows.

Two romances, the Georgian setting, some daring do and a heroine who is allowed to be sensible and is loved for it? Win for me! Plus the “blood will tell” stuff is kept to a minimum and there are some seriously wonderful secondary characters – I would love to read about Sylvester Lavenham’s life – to boot. I agree with the opinion that this is one of Heyer’s best lively romps.  A


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. srs
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 08:07:00

    This is one of my favourite Heyers. I’ve read my paperback to pieces and really must buy it in e the next time it goes on sale.

  2. Annie Talbot
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 08:43:48

    This was my first Heyer, forty years ago, and I adored it. It is what sparked my lifelong love of Regencies.

    Thanks for such a lovely review. I’m going to go find it right now and read it again!

  3. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:21:37

    Totally agree. Always one of my fave Heyers. It’s a fairly early one and really shows her getting into her stride. Tristram is the kind of man you’d want to marry, rather than one of those pesky rakes, isn’t he?
    But why is the couple from Frith’s “Derby Day” on the cover? I do like the original covers by the artist Barbosa. Can’t they go back to those?
    There are collectors of inappropriate covers, and while this definitely has to be on the list, one of my favorites is this one:

  4. Isobel Carr
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:33:24

    I love this one (no surprise). Eustacie’s whole bit about the tumbril and Tristram’s response always kills me.

  5. Jayne
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:35:43

    @Lynne Connolly: Give me Tristram any day. As for the cover, there are a lot that are almost as bad if not worse. I like this one for Eustacie and Ludovic.

  6. RowanS
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 10:37:33

    This and The Masqueraders were my first Heyers, but I hadn’t reread this for a long time. When it came out in ebook I did, and was astounded that I had completely forgotten Tristram and Sarah! I guess as a girl I identified more strongly with Eustacie and Ludovic; as an adult, I absolutely love the older couple. This is easily one of Heyer’s best.

  7. Little Red
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 10:51:00

    I’m in the process of reading Heyer’s romances in the order they were published since I’m assuming she wrote them in that order as well. As a result, I just finished reading “Powder and Patch” recently and loved it. Now, I can’t wait till I get to this one.

  8. Carrie G
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 10:58:21

    You’re welcome! ;-)

    I love The Talisman Ring. Eustacie is so delightful. If you can ever find this on audio grab it! The narrator is fantastic, her voice for Eustacie is perfect. I’m still hoping and praying all the other Heyer audiobooks will FINALLY be rereleased in the US! I’ve been fortunate to have found older recordings on cassette at my local library, but over the last 10 years these copies have almost all disappeared due to age and wear.

    Arabella is another favorite, and so is The Corinthian. And so is…. I can’t choose! They are almost all wonderful. I pick up a Heyer book or audio anytime I need a guaranteed “win.”

  9. Barb in Maryland
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 11:03:52

    Jayne–Thank you for the lovely review of one of my absolutely favorite Heyer novels. So much to love–you didn’t even mention Sarah’s brother’s views on smuggled brandy–another great scene! And the ending—happy sighs all around.
    The Bantam mmpb cover you linked to is the first version I bought–sometime in the 60s. I always thought that Ludovic bore a great resemblance to Doug McClure. At that time, when I played the ‘who would I cast in the movie version of this book’ game, I had Diana Rigg as Sarah and Patrick McGoohan as Tristram (*g*).
    I made sure to nab an e-copy the last time Sourcebooks had their Heyer catalog on sale. That way I can spare the paper copies that all falling apart!

  10. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 11:17:15

    @Jayne: That cover is awesome! Never seen it before. But at least their clothes are period appropriate! (What clothes they’re wearing!)

  11. Jayne
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 11:34:32

    @Lynne Connolly: I’m not too sure about that harlequin coverlet but at least they got Ludovic’s bandage right.

  12. Jayne
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 11:38:22

    @Little Red: I love “Powder and Patch” as a wonderful send up of Georgian clothes and manners. I always laugh out loud while reading it.

  13. Mickie T
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 12:12:24

    Ventre a terre. Swoon! That’s all I have to say. Well, that and as Barb in Maryland says, Sarah’s brother’s strong views on smuggled brandy. (Which, basically, is “Where is it?”)

  14. carmen webster buxton
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 12:33:47

    Ditto the love for both couples! It really shows off Heyer’s versatility in that she can do as well with love between two sensible people past the age of rashness as she can with the impetuous youngsters. I also loved Sarah’s brother, the justice of the peace, with “strong views” on smuggling liquor (he’s all for it!). And the villain is really snarky.

  15. Little Red
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 12:59:22

    @Jayne: Yes, those descriptions of the men’s clothing were a hoot.

  16. Lada
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 13:46:26

    Thank you for such a wonderful review, Jayne. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Heyer before even though every time I see a review I think “I need to read that!” Well, you convinced me that The Talisman Ring would be a great book to start with. I’m especially in the mood for something fun since it’s looking like yet another snowy weekend so I just downloaded this one and can’t wait to sink in!

  17. Donna Thorland
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 15:05:00

    I cannot believe I have never read this one. Kindled!

  18. HJ
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 16:10:45

    @Lynne Connolly:

    I think this is the most inappropriate Heyer cover I’ve ever seen – it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and every detail of the clothing is wrong:

  19. HJ
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 16:14:08

    If you liked The Talisman Ring I think you’ll also enjoy The Reluctant Widow and The Unknown Ajax, as both have some good banter in them. Or The Grand Sophy or Frederica…

  20. Helena Fairfax
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 16:21:58

    @HJ Haha! I actually own that copy! My dad is a massive fan, and he gave me this copy years ago. And unlike the cover, it’s actually a great read. (Goes without saying :) ). And if you love Georgette Heyer, take a look at this quiz by a fellow fan entitled Give Puce a Chance. It’s “vastly entertaining”. It also make me laugh out loud

  21. Jayne
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 16:35:59

    @HJ: And it makes Kit look like such a smug SOB.

  22. Jane Davitt
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 16:57:21

    I love the secondary characters in this, like Sarah’s brother, so intent on drinking his way through the inn’s cellars that he misses all the intrigue and excitement.

  23. Jayne
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 17:08:37

    @HJ: I’ve been eyeing The Reluctant Widow along with a few other Heyer novels. We’ll see what I’m in the mood for when I’ve got a chance to try another one.

  24. Laura Florand
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 17:33:43

    I think of Talisman Ring as Georgette Heyer’s comedic best, absolutely no question. Plus, the romance between Tristram and Sarah is perfect. And Ludovic and Eustacie make a great romantic foil to it.

  25. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 17:39:03

    There was, when I first started writing historicals, a Puce Club. It was very hush-hush, but the idea was to feature the word “puce” in every book at least once. It signalled the person’s admiration of Georgette Heyer.
    @HJ – that is such a wonderful awful cover! She’s wearing Regency, he’s cod-Georgian, but looks as if most of his clothes were made from upholstery fabrics. I love that one!
    The drawn covers for the Pan abridged versions are awesomely bad. That one for “The Foundling” I love, because the model looks as if she’d be better off with Mickey Spillane.
    I wasn’t a big fan of the covers put out a few years ago, which featured soapy Edwardian reimaginings of the Regency, but I could understand the reasoning, and they were quite clever, since in many ways, Heyer’s Regency is a very Edwardian/first half of the 20th century version.

  26. Sunita
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 19:15:00

    Jayne, what a wonderful review! Like everyone else, I like this Heyer very much indeed, although (I apologize in advance) I find Eustacie rather wearing after the Nth rereading. Like RowanS, Eustacie and Ludovic drew my attention as a girl, but as I aged, Tristram and Sarah became everything a not-as-young romance reader could want. And if an author wants to know how to write a great secondary character, they can’t go wrong with Sir Hugh.

  27. Melanie
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 19:57:29

    “The Talisman Ring” is one of my very favorite Heyers. I grin like an idiot whenever I read it. I had already decided to reread it as soon as I finish my current book, and now I just can’t wait. I second Carrie G’s recommendation of the audiobook; the narrator is just perfect.

  28. Susan/DC
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 21:09:54


    I agree with Sunita about Eustacie. I think I didn’t care for her much even when I first read “The Talisman Ring” as a teenager (although that was many years ago, not long after the story took place, so my memory may be a bit spotty). But I adored Sarah, Tristram, Ludovic, the banter, and even the mystery. Heyer should also get credit for creating a quite believable, 3-dimensional villain.

  29. John
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 10:27:42

    Awesome review, Jayne. :) I already have Cotillion and Friday’s Child in my Heyer e-TBR to read when I need my Regency fix (y’all just had to get me started reading her with Faro’s Daughter, which I so enjoyed for the hilarious kidnapping shenanigans between the hero and heroine). This one will have to join them soon, though, as you’ve made it sound positively delectable, and there’s something so satisfying about reading a romance with two couples that satisfy both the Bright Young Things romance and the more mature, adult romance urges. I’ll be on the lookout for when you read more Heyer.

  30. carmen webster buxton
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 14:12:20

    @HJ — OMG, that cover! Someone should have been fired for that one!

    @Helena Fairfax (what a Heyer-esque name, BTW) — thanks for the link to the puce post. One reason I love re-reading Heyer on my Kindle (there is no Heyer book I have not read in print) is, I can instantly find out the actual meaning of words, and puce was one where I was a tad off on what I thought it meant. I thought you might enjoy this entry on the etymology of the word, from Wikipedia:

    Puce is the French word for flea. The color is said to be the color of the bloodstains remaining on linen or bedsheets, even after being laundered, from a flea’s droppings or after a flea has been killed.

  31. Helena Fairfax
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 05:31:21

    @carmen Thanks for the info – and yuck!! I had no idea! Who would? That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “nauseating shade”! No wonder Heyer hated it so much
    @Lynne Connolly I loved the idea of a Puce Club. Will look out for that word now and see if I can spot your fellow members!

  32. Jane Godman
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 12:05:16

    Hi, it’s nice to meet fellow Georgette Heyer fans!
    I’m the author of the La Belle Assemblée blog (and the ‘Give Puce a Chance’ post). Georgette Heyer’s dislike of puce has been well documented, however, so I can’t take all the credit for it!
    I too had heard about the Puce Club and, as a newly published author, might possibly be its newest member!
    If you like, or possibly loathe, (it seems to provoke an extreme reaction either way) Regency Buck, you might be interested in my recent post about ‘Clorinda’.

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