Book Number Five --
Heyer published this book in 1925, the fifth of her 54 novels.
I have to count Simon as a favorite, though not in my top 10.
The book is set in the year 1400 and tells the story of Simon, the illegitimate son of Geoffrey of Malvallet who, at the age of 14, has to fend for himself. He puts himself in the service of Fulk of Montlice (his father's natural enemy), and I do mean "puts himself" into his service. He has a very forceful nature and gets what he wants. He wanted to serve Fulk, and so he does! He works his way up from page to Fulk to a friend and equal to Alan, Fulk's son. The book follows Simon to age 32, by which time he has made a name for himself as Simon of Beauvallet, has a castle of his own, and has won for wife the lady he chooses, a spitfire and a beauty.
Simon is set during the reign of Henry IV, a favorite historical age for Heyer. She dedicated the book to her father, George, because of all her published books at the time, Simon was his favorite.
Heyer, however, put Simon on the list of books she was adamant about keeping suppressed, even when fans wrote to ask that it be reissued. After her death, her son allowed it's publication in 1977, saying that in this one case his mother had been too harsh.
I have to say I agree, because I do enjoy reading Simon now and again. My own hard cover copy looks exactly as the photograph above. I was able to get it on Ebay for $32.00 plus shipping, and it came to me encased in plastic and in pristine shape. It is a 1978 Book Club Associates edition, published by arrangement with William Heineman Ltd. And I don't mind at all that it isn't a first edition (which would be a find, indeed) because it is such a beautiful book, and I love that cover. I also have a Pan paperback, published in 1979.
Now that I've written about Heyer's first five, I will begin to put them in the order in which I enjoy them. Of these first five, the order would be:
1. Simon The Coldheart
2. The Great Roxhythe
3. Powder And Patch
4. The Black Moth
5. Instead Of The Thorn