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The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer

The Toll-Gate (1954)

by Georgette Heyer

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This is not necessarily what you think of when you pick up a Regency Romance. It starts conventionally enough, with an engagement party at the estate of the Earl of Saltash. But from there is rapidly becomes apparent that it's not the Earl that's the focus of the story, it's his dashing, devil-may-care cousin John Staples. He starts out to visit a friend, and ends up staying in a Toll-gate house. Ben's father (the gate keeper) has vanshed and the boy is terrified. John - always out for adventure, or at least something out of the ordinary, is intrigued and hangs around for a while to get to the bottom of it. All sorts of characters turn up, the Squire's grandaughter, her maid, the groom, the landlord, the local highwayman, the works really. It's a real ensemble piece. There is a mystery to be got to the bottom of, as well as a romance to resolve. And it all does so in a most satisfactory way. Maybe a little bit too pat on the mystery, but the plot is involved enough for this not to be in the least bit predictable. The only gripe was the use of slang - a lot of which left me somewhat lost. I think I got the gist, but it didn't always make a great deal of sense at the first pass. ( )
  Helenliz | Jul 12, 2015 |
An enjoyable, if absurd, historical romance/mystery. The heroine is less pathetic than some of Heyer's other creations, but in my view the characters in the Toll-Gate aren't particularly likeable, which detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. ( )
  cazfrancis | Oct 8, 2014 |
The Toll-Gate on a remote road in Derbyshire is the site of much intrigue in this Georgette Heyer novel. Escaping from a boring family party to his friend's house 60 miles away, John Staple finds himself lost in a storm. When, exhausted, he arrives at a toll gate to find the keeper gone and his frightened son left alone, the ex-soldier's curiosity is piqued, and he decides to stick around and see what's going on. And then he meets the local squire's granddaughter and decides to stay longer, especially when it appears that the missing gate-keeper may be directly connected to the sudden appearance of two unexpected guests at her grandfather's. But will he be able to figure everything out before the wrong person figures out him?

A fun Regency mystery. The romance is mostly on the back-burner, but it is present. For Heyer fans and those who enjoy historical mysteries. ( )
  inge87 | Feb 5, 2014 |
At work we do the Guardian Crossword together at lunch and recently the answer to one clue was "toll gate" and that set two of us off reminiscing about this charming book. So, I've re-read it and found my memory not at fault. A lovely romance between two unfashionably large (but delightful) people set against a mystery, with lots of thieves' cant to enliven the dialog -and a lovelorn highwayman amongst the characters - makes for great fun (although an alarmingly high body count at the end is brushed off lightly to facilitate a happy ending!) ( )
  Figgles | Dec 9, 2013 |
Captain John Staple, whose adventurous spirit and uncommon daring had earned him the sobriquet "Crazy Jack," returns to England shortly after seeing action at the battle of Waterloo, but finds the peace somewhat tiresome. Never one to hesitate when a mystery presents itself, Jack finds himself playing the role of toll-gate keeper when chance takes him to a remote part of Derbyshire... But what had become of the real gate-keeper, Ned Bream? What mischief had Mr. Henry Stornaway and his disreputable companion, Nat Coate, gotten up to? And most of all, how was Jack to protect the dashing and well-proportioned Miss Nell Stornaway, with whom he had fallen instantly in love?

An entertaining adventure-romance, The Toll-Gate is another of Georgette Heyer's light-hearted romps - well-written and most engrossing. Here the reader will encounter some familiar characters, from the good-hearted highwayman to the faithful family retainers. My only real complaint lies in the fact that Nell Stornaway, who makes a wonderful heroine, is under-utilized. I would have liked to see more of her... ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jun 25, 2013 |
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The sixth Earl of Saltash glanced round the immense dining-table, and was conscious of a glow of satisfaction.
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Book description
”How can I know that you are to be trusted? I never set eyes on you until yesterday!”

Captain John Staple had enjoyed active service too much ever to settle for a life of humdrum respectability. The post of gate-keeper to a toll-house in the Pennines appeared to offer certain unexpected and agreeable diversions.

This exciting witty novel tells how the handsome dragoon becomes involved with an engaging highwayman, a taciturn Bow Street runner and a stolen hoard of gold coins whilst protecting the squire’s attractive niece from black villainy.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099476363, Paperback)

Captain John Staple’s exploits in the Peninsula had earned him the sobriquet Crazy Jack among his fellow Dragoons. Now home from Waterloo, life is rather dull. But when he finds himself lost and benighted at an unmanned toll-house in the Pennines, his soldiering exploits pale away besides an adventure — and romance — of a lifetime.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:42 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Captain Staple's exploits in the Peninsula had earned him the sobriquet Crazy Jack amongst his fellows in the Dragoon Guards. Now home from Waterloo, life in peacetime is rather dull for the adventure-loving Captain.

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