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This was a bit of a mash up part romance with an unpleasantly self absorbed heroine, part history lesson, meticulously researched and well told The story opens in Brussels on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo as British and allied European forces prepare to confront a resurgent Napoleon The Duke of Wellington is in command of the British troops, who are too few and unseasoned Heyer captures the sense of feverish gaiety that grips this city on the brink of war Wellington s staff work madly to assemble troops and equipment by day then dance til dawn at glittering parties At the Duchess of Richmond s ball, held the night of 15 June 1815, the 42nd Royal Highlanders and the 92nd Foot danced reels and strathspeys to the music of their own pipes.the weird sound of the pipes began and the Highlanders came marching in with their kilts swinging, tartans swept over their left shoulders, huge white sporrans bobbing, and the red chequered patterns of their stockings twinkling in the quick steps of the reel A message arrives for Wellington, who plans the next day s stand at Quatre Bras and the men take their leave The Highland Brigade came marching through the Place in the first rays of sunlight In just a few hours those Highlanders would face the French in a battle that would cost the lives of over 8,000 men.That was only the beginning and two days later the British and their allies would fight Napoleon s finest in the rain soaked fields outside a small village called Waterloo Heyer s descriptions of Waterloo are moving the glory, the desperate courage, the chaos, the hideous pain of the injured both men and horses It s all there and very real and it was, as Wellington would say later the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life I also learned a great deal about the way war was fought in those days For example, infantry squares like these were remarkably effective defenses against cavalry charges.As for the romanceI think the book would have been better off without it Lady Barbara Child was so selfish and reckless that even her bravery helping with the wounded could not reconcile me to her Sadly many of the characters seem rather dull, including some old friends from earlier Alastair Audley books Not my favorite Heyer, but an interesting read for fans of military history.Content rating PG for mature themes and graphic descriptions of war.June 2015 Georgette Heyer group read. I m not sure this novel worked particularly well The divide between the ball room romances and the military maneuvering was just too wide I really enjoyed both parts but they didn t work that well together.I m a big fan of fiction set during the Napoleanic wars When the 95th rifles were mentioned I was super excited to see how Heyer would depict Richard Sharpe before remembering that Sharpe is a fictional character from another series and not a real historical person.Heyer did a good job of showing Old Nosey at his best Her Wellington is very much like Wellington as I ve seen his elsewhere That s not really a surprise So much of his writing survives, and so many personal accounts and descriptions of him, that no writer really has any wriggle room for interpretation I especially liked that almost every line he utters in this book is something that he said in real life The man was just full of pithy phrases.Even interesting was her depiction of Silly Billy Heyer has a fondness for young men which is evident in all her works, but really, I think she s far too indulgent of his blunders here Heyer s Prince William of Orange is a courageous if impetuous young man whose rash courage leads him to make some understandable military mistakes An interesting comparison to Cornwall s version, where the idiotic foppish youth gets a lot of good men killed through unforgivable stupidity and arrogance.Overall though, Heyer is working far too hard to cram in as much of her research as she can It clutters up the narrative and detracts from a clear understanding of the battles Grownow and Creevey are both very interesting chroniclers everyone should read them, especially Grownow, who writes some hilarious anecdotes about regency haut ton but neither of them were important people in their own right, either socially or militarily There was no point in bothering to mention them as characters and record their arrival in town In fact, there was far too much listing of names We don t need to know the name of every aristocrat hanging around Brussels, or every Major in the army.The love story between Bab and Charles is very sweet though I especially liked Bab, who is a perfect Heyer Mark I hero in a female body But once again, Heyer s desire to cram the book full of unnecessary info kind of ruins it Except in this case, it s not military history, it s fictional backstory from characters in earlier Heyer books I liked Mary Challoner and Vidal as much as the next Devil s Cub reader, but they really didn t need to be in this book at all And all the interminable chat about people s ancestors and family history is only present to remind you of early books It doesn t add anything to the story or the characters.So I don t know I did enjoy the book but I felt as if I enjoyed it in spite of itself. Although I had read three other Georgette Heyer novels before this one, those were all detective stories, instead of the historical romances that she s well known for I found this one in a bookstore a few weeks ago and thought that it would be a good introduction to Heyer s other body of work although her mysteries aren t the best I ve ever read, her characters are always well formed and the writing is witty and clever, so I was looking forward to seeing how she applied this skill to another kind of story A quick note although this book is technically part of a series, it functions very well as a stand alone novel, to the point where I didn t even realize that I was reading a book from a series until I went to write this review Brussels, 1815 The summer of love While the Congress of Vienna winds down, English and French society congregates in Brussels for endless parties, balls, and general rich people fun times Off in France, Napoleon has escaped exile and is gathering an army, but no one is overly worried about this, because parties The cast of characters is vast and apparently consists almost entirely of real historical figures who were involved in the Battle of Waterloo , but our main characters are Barbara Childe and Colonel Charles Audley Barbara is a widow who, having been freed early on by her husband s death, now has an amount of freedom that most women of the time can only dream of, and uses that freedom to the best of her ability Barbara scandalizes the town by wearing revealing clothing, painting her toenails gold, swearing like a soldier, and having a series of very public affairs and generally not giving a single flying fuck what anyone thinks Needless to say, I loved her from the get go Enter Colonel Charles Audley, an aide de camp to Wellington He falls in love with Barbara and proposes to her, and she s like, sure, this could be fun The way Heyer develops Charles and Barbara s relationship is very nicely done, and equal parts delightful and heartbreaking Barbara, subconsciously afraid that she doesn t deserve a man as good as Charles, tries to sabotage the relationship by behaving badly, like she s constantly daring Charles to break up with her For his part, Charles handles things beautifully he wants Barbara to be the decent person he knows she s capable of being, but in the same breath says that the last thing he wants is to tell Barbara what to do with her life Basically imagine what would happen if Scarlett O Hara and Rhett Butler were actually concealing decent human beings under their protective layers of anger and cynicism, instead of just being a borderline sociopath and a smug asshole Barbara and Charles are the best, and we get to spend a few hundred pages watching their romance develop before the Battle of Waterloo hits, and everything goes to shit.The research that went into this book, a seemingly fluffy story of love during war, is staggering I know very little of the Napoleonic wars, so I can t comment on the accuracy of Heyer s version of the Battle of Waterloo, but it certainly felt accurate The battle takes up a significant portion of the story, with Heyer giving us an almost blow by blow account of the battle She manages to give us a technical overview of the battle, while also showing the horrific reality of war there are several brief scenes and images during the battle that still haunt me, as they very well should It s a significant departure from the romantic shenanigans and gossip of the rest of the book, and readers can expect some kind of whiplash from the change in tone But if you re reading the book, you know that the sudden depictions of war and all its brutality don t come out of nowhere throughout the book, the war looms in the background, and the approaching battle is always present It starts out subtle The balls, the concerts, the theatres continued, but picnics were added to the gaieties now, charming expeditions, with flowering muslins squired by hot scarlet uniforms the ladies in open carriages the gentlemen riding gallantly beside hampers of cold chicken and champagne on the boxes everyone lighthearted flirtation the order of the day There were reviews to watch, fetes to attend day after day slid by in the pursuit of pleasure days that were not quite real, but belonged to some half realised dream Somewhere to the south was a Corsican ogre, who might at any moment break into the dream and shatter it, but distance shrouded him and then the war is on people s doorsteps, even as they re trying to ignore it and keep having parties and pretending that everything is fine From scores of faces the polite company masks seemed to have slipped People had forgotten that at balls they must smile, and hide whatever care or grief they owned under bright, artificial fronts Some of the senior officers were looking grave here and there a rigid, meaningless smile was pinned to a mother s white face, or a girl stood with a fallen mouth, and blank eyes fixed on a scarlet uniform A queer, almost greedy emotion shone in many countenances Life had become suddenly an urgent business, racing towards disaster, and the craving for excitement, the breathless moment compound of fear, and grief, and exaltation, when the mind sharpened, and the senses were stretched as taut as as the strings of a violin, surged up under the veneer of good manners, and shone behind the dread in shocked young eyes For all the shrinking from tragedy looming ahead, there was yet an unacknowledged eagerness to hurry to meet whatever horror lurked in the future if existence were to sink back to the humdrum, there would be disappointment behind the relief, and a sense of frustration It s beautiful and powerful and I loved every single character I definitely need to seek out of Heyer s romances, and soon. This is exactly the bracing kind of story I needed Jolly good fun, as the general population of characters in this book would say Georgette Heyer has always been good at adventure stories set amongst the British upper class, but in this she has far outdone herself Her research is astounding The second half of the book largely consists of an enormously through about 150 pages long play by play account of the battle of Waterloo, and its immediate lead up and aftermath Heyer seems to know every small action, every commander, each failed and successful strategy on both sides, not to mention her unbelievable knowledge of 19th century warfare and British army cant of the time This part of the novel reads like something between a history tome and the narrative novel that its supposed to be I certainly didn t know about 3 4 of any of the stuff in there I think her main character, Charles Audley, one of the aides de camp to Wellington, was about the only person who was invented In further praise I think Charles and Barbara are one of the realistic couples she s created, and each of them three dimensional and changing throughout the course of the story Their love is somewhat unmotivated at first, but if you just accept it, there s no fault to be found thereafter with it The first half of the novel is wonderful in the fact that it combines the farcical romance stories that she does so well and weaves in hints of the military drama to come over the course of it It really creates a sense of the hysteria and surreality of being in society in Brussels before the battle of Waterloo, one second at balls, the next wondering when the cannons will fire on you I wouldn t think of this as a romance novel, whatever it may say on the back of the book Romance novels don t discuss battles and histories for 150 pages and hint at it for the rest Also The character of Wellington is wonderful, well researched, and not idealized in the slightest She used many of his dispatches from the battle to make him even realistic The only thing I would comment on as a problem is that the romance and the description of Waterloo don t quite go together It s like one story ends and entirely different one begins when the second half starts, with some of the same characters Then for the last 30 pages, the first one starts up again, wrapping up all the storylines from the first part of the novel affected by the outcome of Waterloo Were it not for Audley, the two would seem to have no connection at all It did need to flow better, and perhaps not have quite so serious a shift in tone It was a little extreme I was jolted, and I had to step back and take a breath before resuming after being plunged headfirst into 19th century military strategy PS For you fans of Heyer s These Old Shades one of my favorites and Devil s Cub, Barbara is Dominic and Mary s granddaughter the couple from Devil s Cub , and they make an appearance Bonus Heyer s forte was historical research and it really shines through in this book The last 1 3 of the novel consists of a detailed play by play description of the Battle of Waterloo complete with troop movements and every gory death exactly as it occurred What happens to the characters during the battle is blended in with the real life events and will keep the reader turning pages until the fictional history is resolved Lady Barbara is entirely unlikeable in most of the novel She s the feminine version of her grandfather and instead of shooting people she breaks hearts and causes young men to kill themselves Lovely We re told she s spoiled and didn t have a soft feminine influence to curb her wild nature but that doesn t excuse her bad behavior because she s perfectly aware of what she s doing She has a slow revelation and improves upon acquaintance We re told Charles is the best brother and he s so good and kind but his characterization is rather passive in this book He falls in love at first set and lets the lady walk all over him That doesn t make for a very good romance but by the end of the book I felt for the characters and wanted them to be together I skimmed most of the battle action It s very very detailed and extremely gory I mainly wanted to know what happened to Charles A minor subplot involving Lucy Devenish is also worked into this history of Waterloo I liked the fictional parts of the book better than the real life depiction of the battle I had a hard time keeping track of the real people that figured into the story but remembered the other characters from Regency Buck and Devil s Club so I felt invested in their story Different people have different reactions to this book so I won t say if I would recommend it or not but if you read Regency Buck and Devil s Club and want to know what happens next, then I would read the first half of the novel and skim the battle parts Do not skip the battle parts all together because there are some scenes with fictional characters that are important to the story. I read Heyer for romance This book was not what I expected Too much military and hard to understand.REVIEWER S OPINION I think it might be better to READ this book rather than LISTEN to it as an audiobook It was hard to understand all the military planning and battle action I needed to see diagrams and pictures It was also hard to follow the various officers names by listening as opposed to reading I understand the author did a lot of research in order to be accurate about the Battle of Waterloo The narrator spoke too fast for me which did not help.I may be off on my percentages but it feels like half the book is about a relationship between an army officer and a widow The other half is about military planning and fighting the Battle of Waterloo This is NOT for someone wanting interesting and fully developed romantic relationships I never understood what they saw in each other It was just instant attraction at first sight.Two characters in this story Barbara and George are the grandchildren of characters in Devil s Cub You do NOT need to read that book in advance This is definitely a stand alone book.There is a mystery about Lucy and her love interest a minor third story I can t remember how that was resolved or even if it was It needed explanation or it could be my own bad memory.STORY BRIEF Colonel Audley sees Barbara at a ball and falls in love at first sight Barbara is a notorious widow who is unlikeable, mean, vain, and spoiled She is beautiful and loves to flirt She falls for the Colonel as well, but her bad behavior causes problems Lucy is sad and we don t know why until much later in the book The Battle of Waterloo is the second story Colonel Audley is part of the action.DATA Unabridged audiobook length 14 hours Narrator Claire Higgins Swearing language none Sexual content none Setting 1815 Brussels and Waterloo, Belgium Book Published 1937 Genre historical military fiction with a side of romance. .DOWNLOAD ♪ An Infamous Army ⚖ In The Summer Of , Beneath The Aegis Of The Army Of Occupation, Brussels Is The Gayest Town In Europe And The Red Haired Widow Lady Barbara Childe, Renowned For Being As Outrageous As She Is Beautiful, Is At The Centre Of The Social Whirl And Of All That Is Fashionable And Light Hearted However, The City Was A Nest Of Intrigue Napoleon Threatened Europe But The Talk Was Only Of This Dazzling And Tempestuous Young Every Brilliant Ball, Supper, And Concert In The Feverish Spring Seemed To Bring Her A New Conquest By Storm She Is The Talk Of The Ton She Flirts Shamelessly, Dresses Outrageously, And Scandalizes Polite Society That Doesn T Stop One Of Her Adorers The Dashing Colonel Charles Audley, An Aide De Camp To The Duke Of Wellington From Falling Madly In Love With The Beautiful Young Widow And Proposing Marriage Threatened By The Growing Tide Of Scandal, She Allowed Colonel Charles Audley To Claim Her For His BrideThe Eve Of The Fateful Battle Of Waterloo, Their Betrothal Falls Apart It Isn T Until Charles Marches Off To Fight Napoleon That Barbara Discovers Where Her Heart Lies Now, She Can Do Nothing But Wait As The Battle Rages, Praying For The Safety Of The One Man Who Can Set Her Free From Her Wild Impulses But As The Clouds Of War Gathered, He Turned From Her In A Sudden, Mysterious Indifference Stunned, Bewildered, Barbara Wondered What Secret She Must Fathom, What New Seduction Must She Devise, To Regain The One Man Who She Ruefully Realized Had Truly Claimed Her Heart This book has two sides In other words, you will find two books inside.1 It is definitely a tribute to Duke of Wellington and his army which fought at Waterloo And, it is great tribute Heyer had to spend many hours to get so historically accurate descriptions Really, I don t even know what I can say If someone likes to read about wars, war strategies and so on, he will think of this book like of a jewel I love historical fiction Nonetheless, although I appreciate value of Heyer s work I confess I have skipped many sites and battle descriptions I haven t had a mood for such knowledge But I know where I can find it when I will be interested Still, I have read with pleasure about other historical facts 2 It is classical romance of Heyer Witty, with small surprises, with interesting characters.There are two aspects, two things I will remember especially from this book.One is a history of Harriet and Peregrine They are characters from Regency Buck We see them in An Infamous Army as a married couple Their relationship is portrayed interestingly You will be reminded that there is a real life after Happily Ever After.Second is Harry s attitude to the war His awakening of delusion is sad.If I gave stars according to my pleasure from reading in this particular time I would give four stars But I can appreciate the whole book, with parts which I haven t thoroughly read. This was the first book I have ever read that was written by Georgette Heyer I can see why her work is so loved It was very well written and much attention was given to detail, which I always enjoy She put much work it into it while still allowing me to use my imagination to a point that was satisfactory for me While I m far from an expert on the Duke of Wellington or Waterloo, I still think the military aspects of the story were very well written and appreciate the research Heyer put into it all My favorite characters were probably Colonel Audley himself, the Duke of course , and Barbara s brother Lord George view spoiler When George was brought in, something in my mind hoped he would get some attention in the book as it went on and I was actually happy to find he and Lucy were married For some reason, I love the idea of opposite sorts of people getting together I ll admit, I was almost as worried as Lucy was in hoping he d be safe through the battle Very relieved when he was hide spoiler What a wonderful, complex story The romance feels less important that the historical stuff at times, but thanks to Heyer s talent and painstaking research, it all comes together flawlessly There are basically three parts In the beginning, the fashionable world anxiously awaits the results of the Vienna Congress and enjoys their freedom in Brussels, where the infamous widow Lady Barbara meets a dashing but quiet aide de camp to the Duke of Wellington In the middle, Wellington prepares his campaign against a newly escaped Napoleon, and the last part features an incredibly detailed and gruesome account of the battle of Waterloo What made this novel so enjoyable was Barbara She s a self proclaimed rake, loves shocking polite society, gambles, swears, flirts outrageously, and basically does as she pleases She was a breath of fresh air, and luckily was so well drafted that even though all the gossip mongers call her heartless and a bitch, she never came across as a such.