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A Civil Contract Paperback – July 21, 2009

160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Sparkling" Independent "My favourite historical novelist - stylish, romantic, sharp, and witty. Her sense of period is superb, her heroines are enterprising, and her heroes dashing. I owe her many happy hours." Margaret Drabble "Wonderful characters, elegant, witty writing, perfect period detail, and rapturously romantic. Georgette Heyer achieves what the rest of us only aspire to." Katie Fforde "A writer of great wit and style... I've read her books to ragged shreds." Kate Fenton, Daily Telegraph "Georgette Heyer is unbeatable" India Knight --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or private life. She was born in Wimbledon in August 1902. She wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of seventeen to amuse her convalescent brother; it was published in 1921 and became an instant success.

Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a barrister, and they had one son, Richard.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books; Original edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373773978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373773978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,473,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author of over fifty books, Georgette Heyer is the best-known and best-loved of all historical novelists, making the Regency period her own. Her first novel, "The Black Moth," published in 1921, was written at the age of fifteen to amuse her convalescent brother; her last was My Lord John. Although most famous for her historical novels, she also wrote eleven detective stories. Georgette Heyer died in 1974 at the age of seventy-one.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on January 26, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jo Beverly gives one of the best introductions I've ever read, and she's right -- you either love "A Civil Contract" or else you don't. I belong to the former camp because I not love this novel, I also think that it is probably the best Regency-era romance novel that Ms Heyer ever wrote. To begin with, "A Civil Contract" isn't what you'd usually expect from a Regency-era romance novel: the hero, Adam Deveril, has returned from the Napoleonic wars only to be greeted by the news that he has inherited a badly in-debt estate with his father's sudden death at the hunting field. A deeply honourable man with principles, Adam is willing to sell the estates and give up on his dream of marrying the love of his life, the beautiful and much pampered Julia Oversley. Fate steps in the shape a rich merchant, Jonathan Chawleigh. Mr. Chawleigh offers to help Adam settle his father's debts, save the estates and see that the rest of the Deverils are settled comfortably, if Adam will marry Mr. Chawleigh's plain and practical daughter, Jenny. And even though every feeling revolts at such a scheme, Adam finally agrees to the scheme so that his mother and sisters will be comfortable, and so that he can save his ancestral home. But will Adam be able to put aside his feelings for Julia and allow himself to feel some affection for practical Jenny? Or will he spend the rest of his life bitterly regretting that he had to give Julia up?

The novel centers on the first year of Adam's marriage to Jenny -- how the couple learn to live with each other, to understand each other and to cope with their families (in this case Adam's melancholy and slightly melodramatic mother, and Jenny's brash and over bearing father). Is their marriage a success? Does Adam come to love and value Jenny? I've always liked to think so.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Kathy B on November 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful story; every bit of it rings true. One feels nothing but empathy and concern for Lord and Lady Lynton as they find their quietly anguished way to love and contentment. Ms. Heyer has given us a realistic set of characters; not one of them is truly repulsive (so as to make the others more likable). One even feels empathy for the beautiful and shallow Julia and the overbearing and vulgar Mr. Chawleigh. The characters' weaknesses make them human and their strengths make them honorable.

This is not a Georgette Heyer Regency RomCom (and I've read all of them), but don't leave it off your Georgette Heyer reading list.

I want to read this book again and again.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Jessie B. Sackler on January 6, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
We have all read Regencies in which the destitute hero marries for money and finds true love as well. "A Civil Contract" is not one of these stories.
Adam Deveril is one of Georgette Heyer's quiet gentlemen: handsome, honorable, and brave. He needs a great deal of bravery when his father dies. That death shatters Adam's life. He has a career in the army; he must sell out. He loves the fairy-tale beauty Julia and she loves him; a man in debt to his neck cannot afford a merely respectable portion, nor can the lover honorably ask her to join him in grinding poverty. He does what his honor insists that he do.
None of the things which he has lost could help him . He needs to marry money, in the form of the plump and plain daughter of a domineering and vulgar man--a very wealthy man, who is willing to take on Adam's debts to marry his daughter to a nobleman.
But Jenny loves Adam, and has loved him ever since she, as Julia's companion, watched the golden pair fall in love. Jenny can marry him and rescue him financially, which Julia can't; she can be the wife of the man she loves, knowing that he still loves Julia; she can fulfill her father's dreams for her. And she does.
Surely this must have happened in life. Not every merchant's daughter would turn out to be beautiful. Not every wealthy merchant would turn out to be a man of sensitivity and charm. Not every marriage made for money could turn out to be a marriage for love.
The novel begins with Adam, his problem, his terrible losses, his quietly heroic determination to do both the honorable thing and the sensible thing,no matter what his personal desires are. All he has to sell is himself and his title, and he sells them.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Maxxie on October 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I own every book Heyer wrote, but this is by far my favorite. A Civil Contract covers the first year and a half of an arranged marriage between an impoverished peer desperate to save his family estate from foreclosure, and a rather plain, but very nice, banker's heiress -- who unfortunately is also the former schoolmate of the woman he is in love with. I've read (in Jane Aiken Hodges' excellent biography of Georgette Heyer) that Ms. Heyer deliberately set out with this book shake up the expectations she herself had established in the romance genre -- and she succeeds admirably. Jenny has to adjust to life in the aristocracy, struggle to gain acceptance, deal with her husband's infatuation with her own school friend (a far more typical heroine), and learn how to make him happy.

Charming secondary characters include the hero's dynamic sister and of course the heroine's vulgar but winning father. Jenny is the only Heyer heroine who has a baby (and is seen by the obstetrician who historically later killed Princess Charlotte with his treatments!).
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