OK, so I went and bought another Heyer regency romance. They’re addictive. And with The Unknown Ajax, I finally hit upon one of Heyer’s best.
Lord Darracott: The head of the household. An eccentric and miserly individual. Father of four sons, three of which are deceased. He controls the whole family by withholding his money.
Hugh Darracott: Son of Lord Darracott’s second son, he has never met the family. They expect him to be of low class with horrible manners due to his father’s marriage to a ‘weaver’s daughter‘. With the death of Lord Darracott’s eldest son and grandson, he is now the heir to the title and estate.
Matthew Darracott: Lord Darracott’s only surviving son. After his brother’s death he believes he is the heir. He comes to Darracott Place when he learns otherwise. With him come his two sons, Vincent and Claud.
Vincent Darracott: Matthew’s elder son, he and his grandfather seem to be one of a kind. Selfish and a lavish spender, his lazy, no-care attitude suffers a check in front of his grandfather – from whom he is always borrowing money. He hates Hugh for stealing away the title from his father which would have then passed to him.
Claud Darracott: His dream is to be the Pink of the Ton i.e. the best dandy in town. He eagerly takes big, clumsy, slow-witted Hugh under his wing to mould him into a gentleman.
Richmond Darracott: The son of Lord Darracott’s youngest son, he is the Lord’s favorite grandchild; He sees in him a spirit of his own and gives him his every desire – as he sees it. But Richmond has his own way of getting what he wants out of life, and as is usual in Georgette Heyer’s books, the brother of the heroine provides a lot of the drama – this is no different. He is brother to;
Anthea Darracott: The Lord has hit upon a great plan – to marry Hugh to his cousin Anthea. That way, the title and estate will stay in the family and Hugh can be controlled. Anthea is the only one of the grandchildren who is not afraid to stand up to her grandfather. She makes it clear to Hugh that she has no intention of marrying him – apparently, neither does he – which results in the two becoming fast friends. It isn’t long before Anthea begins to suspect that the dim witted behaviour is put on by Hugh.
Mrs. Darracott: Mother of Anthea and Richmond, she adores her children and stands in great trepidation of her father-in-law. She is forced to stay under his roof after her husband’s death.
Lady Aurelia: Wife of Matthew Darracott and mother of Vincent and Claud, she remains unaffected by the rages of her father-in-law Lord Darracott and maintains her cool under any situation. Descended from Earls, she has a commanding presence handling any situation with dignity.
Although the plot in this novel was easy to unravel, the characters were refreshingly different. Hugh, although rich and handsome, spent half of the book acting like a huge man with a low intellect. Although we knew he couldn’t be so (he’s the hero!) it was an interesting change. Anthea herself was fooled for a time which added to the fun. With the romance question cleared up in the beginning, Anthea is left free to fall in love – with a man she had told she would never marry! A light, refreshing read.