The fact that Georgette Heyer wrote The Black Moth at 17 is pretty astonishing. It's such a delightful book which, while perhaps not as polished as her later works, firmly establishes the charm and humour she would display throughout her career.
Heyer apparently first invented the story to tell to her sick younger brother, and it contains all the classic elements you'd expect from such an origin - an engaging hero who flirts with danger but actually has a heart of gold, a beautiful heroine who captures said heart, a ~dastardly~ villain you love to hate, lots of action, scandal and intrigue, plus a bit of bromance on top of all that.
I really enjoyed the characters, especially Jack and his best friend Miles, and I even empathised with the tiresome Lady Lavinia. One of my favourite things about Heyer's writing is not the lavish period descriptions or even the melodrama (though they're great too), but the connections between the characters. Whether it's sibling bonds (or lack thereof), enemies, friends, married couples or people just falling in love, the relationships always feel so very real and universal, enhanced by the witty and engaging dialogue.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt and he does an excellent job. The voices he gives to each character are strong - the male characters in particular - and his pacing and delivery are good.
The story was a little uneven and frankly quite baffling in places (the reason Jack had to leave the country seemed weak, for instance, though maybe I'm imposing too modern a judgement), but overall The Black Moth was a fun read and a great way to start my quest to consume all of Heyer's romances.
Published: 2013 (Originally 1921)
Get It: Audible