One of the few bad things about having friends on book sites who's opinions I tend to agree with and who write great reviews is that I often have nothing to little to add. In this case, though it worked out great, because I couldn't really figure out what I thought about this book, and Murder by Death pretty much got up inside my head and wrote out all my thoughts. Like seriously, that review is spookily close to all the things I would have written if I had written a review, so you could probably just go read that one!
In any case, this one tanked for me pretty early with a very unpleasant introduction between the "hero" and heroine, but since it was a buddy read project I stuck with it, and overall I'm glad I did, because I came to really like them both, and to like them as a couple.
I think the high point is Heyer's characters, they are so very vivid, even most of the side characters. Despite the fairly dense language, when it comes to drawing a character portrait she actual does so quite economically - it's entertaining to look at just how clear a picture we all had of Clara for instance, when she appears only very briefly in the book. Aunt Hendred is another example, she's really not described in great detail and really isn't in the book for very long, but from her dialogue and her behaviour I feel like I know her intimately. And the language, once you get into a rhythm with it, isn't so hard.
More to the point I think I discovered why everyone likes Heyer so much. I've picked up a few "just like Heyer" regency romances over the years, and more or less hated them all, so I always figured I'd probably dislike the original Queen of regency herself. Actually, it's a case of the typical "just like..." falling very far short of the mark. I'm definitely going to try some more of her books. I am thinking of picking up The Grand Sophy, as that's another that was mentioned as pretty universally loved.
In the end, this went from a bare 2 after the blackberries at the start, to an easy 4, and there are very very few books I have ever read that have turned my opinion like that. Like MbD though, I thought the ending wrapped up just a little too quickly - unlike modern books which could often stand to lose 50 or 100 pages, I actually thought this one could have done with another 20 pages or so in the final chapters.
And really finally: I think this book wins any prizes going for "most uses of the word orgy" in a book without any actual sex. It's impressive.