I do believe this is the second romance GH wrote? Or at least, it was
the second published, with the title "The Transformation of Philip Jettan" under the pseudonym Stella Martin, by Mills and Boon in 1923. When it was republished as Powder and Patch in 1930, they left out the original last chapter, which makes me very curious indeed what that original last chapter was. Please let me know what was in that chapter if you find it, dear Reader.
Anyway, I really don't think this is a strong Georgette Heyer. There was little, if ever, of the prosy, yet witty, narrations and dialogues I was used to in Heyer's later works. Since this is one of her earlier works, I suppose this is understandable. However, I did see little glimpses of Heyer here that would show in the novels that I would come to love. Most especially: the steadfast and intelligent male protagonist.
Here's the deal: Philip and Cleone are in love with each other, but Philip is, as they say, a country bumpkin. Everyone agrees that Philip is a good man, but as he is (he is too arrogant in his ways), he cannot be with Cleone. They think Philip needs to strike the balance between a polished gentleman, and the steadfast and honest man that he thinks he is.
After sorely losing in a duel, Philip decides to go to Paris and acquire polish, to show them all. Remarkably, he succeeds, in the space of six months. Which, I have to agree, is really rather unrealistic. How does anyone acquire great sword skills, a great taste for fashion and clothing, and a popular reputation in Paris
, all in 6 months?
In any case, Philip did. Cleone, in the meantime, regrets having forced Philip to acquire polish, hears the gossip that Philip fought in a duel in Paris for a French lady. She thinks Philip has changed for the worse. There's no use waiting around for him, so off she goes to London to show Philip she can go on without him, as he so obviously did.
But really, these two people love each other. Philip just wants to know if Cleone loved him for who he is, or the fop she wants him to be.
And then commences a series of misunderstandings, which I think didn't stretch into a melodrama, thank God. Thanks to Wise Elders, and an Intelligent Hero, the misunderstandings were cleared up, and they lived happily ever after.
Many dislike Powder and Patch, I've read, because of Cleone, and mayhaps because of her contradictory nature. For my part, I do sympathize with her.
I suppose any woman would like to change something in the man she loves, but Cleone soon regrets this. She was also hurt because she thinks Philip flirted and even fought duels for other ladies. I was a bit surprised though, that she would accuse Philip of having a tarnished reputation.
There was also the instance when Cleone, rejecting Philip, secretly wanted him to master her and overcome her fences. When Philip goes to Cleone's aunt, Lady Malmerstoke, dispenses a bit of eyebrow-raising advise: In a sense: That women do not like gentleness in men, and want them to master
women, of all words. Now, I certainly do not want any man to lord over me!
However, Lady Malmerstoke admitted herself that she was not that kind of girl in her younger years, and explained to Philip that girls are very much capable of holding two contradictory thoughts together.
Which I think was a funny scene and rang true. I suppose that what she meant was, sometimes, women want men to assert themselves. In Powder and Patch's context, Philip was not really that assertive, he just acted like Cleone was his for the taking and therefore did not make much effort to woo her.*2.5 stars
It was light, funny romance, but I really hate misunderstandings and such. I don't think Powder and Patch was strong. The ending felt a bit of a rush and too neatly tied up, though I was still happy that Philip and Cleone ended up happy together.