So, Damerel in the brambles is douchey. Let's just get that out of the way. And Edward is a prig, and Oswald is a ninnyhammer. Aubrey is loveably curmudgeonly for one so young.
But I am liking this so far.
Like most of you, I didn't like the meeting between Damerel and Venetia, and I think that Heyer overplayed the "rake" a bit there - because "rake" shouldn't mean "attacks unsuspecting village girls," which is pretty much what happened. I am displeased. One of the village maidens needs to hit him where the good Lord split him.
But I did love so much that moment that Venetia realized that she likes Damerel. When she wakes up the morning after their second meeting, full of excitement because she has a friend to laugh with, that she didn't have before, my heart broke a little bit for her.
These are two incredibly lonely people. Heyer is playing it just right - lightheartedly and without self-pity, but I get the feeling that neither of them has ever really had a real friend. In the words of Anne Shirley, they are kindred spirits.