Copyright - 1995
Reviewed by Isolde Wehr
"Never Doubt I Love" is the fifth installment of Patricia Veryan's
Georgian series "Tales of the Jewelled Men".
Here the other stories:
1. "Time's Fool"
2. "Had We Never Loved"
3. "Ask Me No Questions"
4. "A Shadow's Bliss"
6. "The Mandarin of Mayfair".
This books tells the story about Peregrine Cranford (this name sounds
familiar to P. Veryan fans) and Zoe Grainger.
Zoe, a country miss, became a new stepmother who don't like her.
One day Lady Buttershaw come in Zoe's fathers house and offer her
stepmother to take Zoe with her to London to be a companion to her
sister Lady Julia. Zoe has no change for an other decision. She had
to accompany Lady Buttershaw.
In London she is really surprised because she gets new dresses and
her "work" is easy. She only has to go out with Lady Julias dogs and
comb the cats.
The first meeting between Perry (Peregrine) and Zoe in a little inn
near London is a big misunderstanding. In London they meet again
because Lady Buttershaw is looking for a married man for Zoe. Both
had no good memories on their first meeting but after a while they
Little by little happens more stange things and Zoe and Perry must
recognize that they are in the middle of a conspiracy against England.
Now they need the help of friends and a lot of courage because the
enemies are dangerous.
I had such a lot of fun while reading this book. It is like with every
Patricia Veryan book. They are full of humor, surprises, suspense
and adventures. You can read the book also without knowing the
other stories but if you read all it is much more easier to under-
stand who all the persons are because nearly each friend of Perry
has his own story.
The Mandarin of Mayfair
Reviewed: 8/19/98 by Isolde Wehr
Here is the sixth installment in Patricia Veryans series
about the "League of the Jewelled Men" which is a wonderful
end in this series. You read the funny and exciting
story about August Falcon and Gwendolyn Rossiter.
The men around Gideon Rossiter fight against a group
of people called the "League of Jewelled Men" who wants
to overthrow the english king. This time the league wants
to kill August and lay their hands on his estate.
August isn't accepted by the high society because his
grandmother was half chinese and russian. His great-
grandfather was a Mandarin and that's why his nickname
is "Mandarin of Mayfair". He is only tolerated because
he is rich.
August knows how cruel the high society can be and so
he doesn't allow his sister to marry the man of her
dreams, James Morris. Jamie is madly in love with
Augusts sister Katrina but he will not marry her without
the consent of her brother. Gideons sister Gwendolyn
is a enchanting young woman with a little limp (she has
that since her birth) who teases August very often.
They are friends and Gwendolyn loves August but he also
doesn't want to marry.
Also Tummet, meanwhile servant from August is a very
important part of the story again. Alltogether they
try to find enough proofs against the criminal group
so that the gouvernment will believe them. They know
the names of a few members of the group but couldn't
unmask them official. Then a member of the group gives
August drugs and so he nearly kills Jamie in a duell.
August doesn't know why he did something so cruel.
He wants to calm down his conscience and so he trys
to find the league alone. But soon he is in deep
trouble. Will be able Gwendolyn safe his live?
This novel was a worthy close of the series. Patricia
Veryan wrote again a wonderful story with much joy and
suspense. Not only fans will love this book.
I have reread Some Brief Folly even though after I first read it I swore I
never would. I am trying to prove to Barbara that the order of Veryan's
writing, regardless of publication dates is : L&G , LD, and SBF.
The first time that I read SBF, it was right after I finished the GCs. So I
went from Dedicated Villain right to SBF. DV is Patricia Veryan at her
funniest, frothiest, melodramatic best. It's hard to find a single line in
DV that doesn't work. And every character counts. It's full of dialogue,
Roly and the squeaker don't shut up. And there is lots of detail about
Roly's life to give his behaviour context and the bad guy is her best. And
you have to consider that I was already disappointed that GC was not JM. So
I closed the cover on DV and opened the first page of SBF. Yikes! It was
like going from chocolate mousse to fruitcake.
As far as Hawk went, the explanation for his behavior was minimal compared
to Roly, he was not a point of view character in a meaningful way, the
villain was a cipher (isn't this a clever choice of word? It a literal
description of the underdeveloped villain, as well a subtle reference to GC.
That's the effect of eating 3 lbs of Easter chocolate in one day), and the
reconciliation between him and his grandfather was a pretty pale shadow of
the one between Roly and Muffin. The dialogue is minimal. The setting
standard Gothic romance. I was disappointed.
That's why it took me months to read the rest of the Sanguinets. I actually
read the Riddles first, and only when I became absolutely desperate did I
start Lord and the Gypsy. There was no way I would reread SBF then. Then I
waded through LD. But then, thankfully, came Feather Castles and the rest
and now I even have my own copy of GATL, thanks to the ever-wonderful
So when it was time to reread SBF for the list discussion, this time I did
it the right way. I reread LD first. Then SBF. Then when I finished SBF, I
reread DV. (This last step was maybe not necessary to prove the point, but I
don't need a lot of reasons to reread DV). Now, in context, SBF is not that
bad. Certainly, Hawk and Mia are fine. The plot is suitably melodramatic.
There are an assortment of interesting secondary characters, and the subplot
of Stephanie and Buchanan is more intense than Veryan subplots usually are.
But it's not as well written as subsequent Veryan work. Not by a long shot.
I just read a Joan Wolf book. So I'm really into these bullet sentences.
And the one line paragraphs.
So do I think the order written is L&G, LD and SBF? L&G has the lousiest
heroine ever, so it must be first. LD has the next lousiest, so it must be
second.( Yes, LD maniacs, I'm yanking your chains. I know that L&G and LD
were published first and second so I'm willing to grant they were written
earliest, so do not bother dusting off those voodoo dolls). But why is SBF
third? After all, Mia is actually ok. And publication dates put Feather
Castles and Nanette before SBF.
I think that L&G, LD and SBF are the first three Veryan wrote because they
are virtually identical to each other in essential areas and radically
different in style from all of Veryan's other books. Furthermore, they each
illustrate a different version of the same hero that Veryan develops way
more successfully in later books.
The similarity in style includes a marked shortage of dialogue. Every Veryan
book after these three is chock full of memorable dialogue. Especially
between the hero and heroine. Did either Lucian and Deirdre say a single
thing that rang in your ears? I'm sorry, but the witty repartee between
Camille and Sophia was not. Likewise in SBF. The best piece of dialogue
between Mia and Hawk actually comes on the last page of the book. Not that
Mia and Hawk don't develop an interesting relationship. It's just that
Veryan's not using dialogue to tell the story. And in all of her later
books, the dialogue stands out.
Now to be fair about it, there's nothing too snappy about the dialogue in
Feather Castles either. But I think that's because the protagonists are two
of the dullest people on the planet. But there is way more dialogue than in
SBF. Just take them both in hand and rifle the pages. FC is full of it. By
comparison, SBF has hardly any.
You can see Veryan developing her writing style throughout L&G, LD, & SBF.
For example, in L&G, a number of key scenes were not described directly,
like the kidnapping of that secondary woman character that Lucian foils. It
involved a serious attack on the hero, but he just describes it
retrospectively to some friends. Later Veryan would never leave that out.
In LD, key scenes and characters are attenuated, too short to get milked for
their full value, e.g. the big bad guy, or the guy who takes the treasure. In
SBF, side issues receive too much prominence, as with the 2nd aunt's
musicale, the excessive number of servants with interesting features. But in
all of the books subsequent, Veryan finds the balance between relevant and
irrelevant narrative and characters and when to show it and when to stow it.
Even in GATL, which has a surfeit of servants, each one has a point to move
the story along.
Similarly with subplots. I've already ranted about the excessive number of
things happening in L&G. It's the same problem with LD: the missing
treasure, the spa, the land deal gone bad, the evil Cobras, the alienated
papa, the alienated uncle and papa, the brother, the bad friend, the broke
cousin...And there's SBF, with not one but two aunts, the missing child, the
murdered wife, the alienated grandpa, the feuding neighbor, the nephew, the
depressed brother and the chaste sister. Fewer subplots than L&G and LD, but
still too many. Compare them to Nanette or FC. After SBF, Veryan pares it
down so the reader can focus on the story. The subplots don't require a
There are equivalent issues with point of view. L&G is all Lucien. LD is
Sophia (why?), like SBF is mostly Mia. Most of her later books use multiple
points of view, even if she's chosen the hero or the heroine as the main
one. There is a little Simon in SBF, but not even close to enough Hawk. She
doesn't make that kind of mistake in later books: she won't waste time
giving you the secondary male character's pov, when you don't get the
hero's. Hawk actually remains more oblique than Simon. Frustrating.
Apart from the same unfocused writing style, the other thing that L&G, LD
and SBF share is the presentation of the Veryan archetypal hero: noble,
brave and good, but misjudged and alone, until his true love recognizes the
truth about him.
Lucian is the publicly-humiliated misjudged man. Society is punishing him
because it is suspected that he's killed his girlfriend. (Not Deirdre, since
obviously, no one would be shunned for killing her) In true early Veryan
overkill, he then gets boycotted by society again because he makes it look
like he's trying maneuver his cousin Vaughn out of an inheritance. So
unfair, since he was really just trying to protect his girlfriend and
Vaughn. But Lucian stoically endures the cruel treatment by his mistaken
peers. Sound familiar? Anthony Farrar even looks just like Lucian.
And Camille. The sarcastic uncaring front presented to insulate the
vulnerable man from exposing his true self to cruel society. August, step
forward dear. That's enough. Meet me later around back. Where's Treve?
Hawk: the misjudged man forced to take refuge from cruel society by becoming
a rake. Roly, you and Treve come over here. Tell August to come in, but just
for a second.
Now Veryan does have other archetypes: dull men with the huge fantasy life,
wild boys, adorable boys, etc. But the most powerful of Veryan's heroes are
the vulnerable inside, crunchy outside guys that suffer from society's cruel
misjudgments: August, Roly, Anthony, and Treve. Is there any argument about
this? Do we need a poll?
And these shellacked-over bowls of jello are exactly the kind of men that
Veryan is playing with in her first three books. She's trying them on,
working the permutations. That's why poor Lucien has to suffer two
humiliating courses of treatment. And practically everyone is misjudged in
LD. And why Hawk is has to do a major reversal after several years of being
reviled by society.
Society's misjudgment, with all of it's horrible consequences on the psyche
of the poor man are essential Veryan themes. Why did she make Rossiter's men
dump August after the duel? Because he wasn't suffering enough. She had him
rejected by haut ton society, but it didn't bother him enough. Not until
he's rejected by his friends can he follow the trail of degradation blazed
by Lucien and Hawk and reach the depths inhabited by Roly and owned by
So it's not that Mia and Hawk aren't interesting characters or the plot is
not good. It's that Veryan later develops such an inspired and original way
of telling the same story. Like LAN is better that L&G, SBF doesn't have the
trademark Veryan style that makes her later books so excellent. Except for
the type of hero, SBF could have been written by anyone. But all of her
subsequent books could only have been written by Patricia Veryan.
I want to talk a little bit about parts of SBF and Love's Duet that I found
in LD, the relationship between Cam and the Duke of Vaille and the scene
where the latter finds out the former was a member of Cobra. That still
stands out as one of the best Veryan scenes ever. Charged with emotion, the
fact that Cam doesn't feel he can tell the truth about the situation even to
his father whom he admires, is very worthy precursor to the later finely
developed relationship between Roly and Muffin.
This is an early book, and yet you can still find the flashes of brilliance
that escalate in her later books.
Also, and here is my admiration for villains again, I found Amory Hartwell
to be interesting semi-villain, somewhat similar to Rupert of Hentzau in the
Prisoner of Zenda. He's a villain because he needs something to fill his
time, circumstances make it that villainy is more appropriate an occupation
for him at this time, and it lets his petty side find release. And, admit
it, we all have our petty sides (don't even let me get started on mine, I'll
be gibbering for hours - no, days!). I've always liked the villains who are
normal people who are not evil, just on the wrong side. Or overwhelmed by
the tiny poniards of daily life. (Okay so I just saw Shakespeare All's Well
that Ends Well last night, forgive me my Elizabethan dialogue).
Some Brief Folly; I have always found Mia a most admirable heroine. If you
take all her good points together, she is actually right up there with
Gwendolyn as the most admirable. She is mature, good-hearted, keeps her head
in a crisis, and won't let people cower from their failings. She has her
priorities and she doesn't lie about them. She loves her brother more than
she loves Hawks sense of justice. And she lets Hawk know that. There is no
subterfuge in Mia (unlike in Deirdre). She is an honest soul and therefore
deserves her hearts desire. Similarly, with Gwen honesty, loyalty adds to a
devotion to personal truth. She too does not let August emotionally hide and
compels him over time to explore, revel (and what I see as the ultimate end)
embrace all parts of his heritage.
Now on to my little pet peeve, which I have aired before but will again (ha
ha!). I like Stephanie and Simon. I like them as a couple and I cheer them
when they run away together. Now let me explain.
Stephanie is the strong one in the relationship, Simon is the more passive.
As Veryan fans, and romance fans in general, we have been conditioned to
despise weak men. We admire strength, even when it manifests itself in men
who could be classified as rapists and yet are still heroes (Victoria Holt's
Demon Lover, Ahmed in The Sheik). Don't even get me started on that trend.
Grrr. Weak men, no matter how good, are contemptable. Simon is a weak man. I
say that there is nothing wrong with the woman being the strong one in the
relationship. Not all matches can be made of equals, nor should they. It's
just not possible. So if you have a match made of unequals, then it's a darn
good thing both are relatively good people.
Ok. They hurt their family by running away together. But I say, how is it
that both the Buchanans and the Hawkhursts were so wrapped up in their own
problems (admittedly large) that they didn't notice what was going on?
Support is what was needed here. And S&S didn't get it. Imagine the
Mia put her hand on Simon's arm. "Oh dear. I'm so glad you found Stephanie.
Now let's go petition the courts to grant you a divorce from Ernestine. Oh
and we can do some paternity tests on your two youngest. And get a writ of
misconduct sworn out on her. I'm sure her lovers aren't exactly of the best
character. We can get them to testify against her. I'm sure it won't take
more than 3 years."
Ok. So I'm being sarcastic. But I understand S&S's decision. The era and
moral atmosphere just makes it more tragic, not condemnable (by our
standards, nor the standards of their family, I think) or unbelievable. I
think the only mistakes S&S made was that their timing sucked and they
didn't tell everyone. The latter could be excused by the parallel events
that were going on, the former is due to the author.
I got the sense of extreme desperation around the whole S&S thing. Like they
thought this was their only chance for ever being happy and breaking out of
their either repressive or miserable lives. With that kind of desperation, I
am not surprised they seized it and behaved irresponsibly.
Of all the different kinds of people in the Veryan books, I would definitely
put them on the side of the angels, not just because they loved each other
but because of the people who loved them.