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Review: "I Will Repay" by Baroness Orczy

I Will Repay may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog. Cover art is by Janice Tarver, for sale at Etsy.

First published in 1906, I Will Repay was the second written but sixth novel in chronological order of the Scarlet Pimpernel series. Some readers claim I Will Repay is the best of the series. I would be hard pressed to name a favorite--I was rather fond of both The Laughing Cavalier and The First Sir Percy. However I can understand why people would like this one best. It is a romance and an interesting one.

More than any of the other books in the series, I Will Repay captures the ominous side of the French Revolution and the ever-present threat of betrayal by one’s acquaintances, friends, loved ones or political bedfellows. The author’s detailed descriptions of mob psychology and political intrigue dovetail notably with her impressive knowledge of Parisian geography and the sartorial preferences of both revolutionaries and “aristos.”

If I Will Repay were a movie, the role of Sir Percy Blakeney would be no more than a bit part. The stars of the show would play Déroulède and Juliette, whose romance is every bit as fraught with complications as any Austen romance. Once cannot help admiring Déroulède, even though he is a member of the revolutionary politicals. Unlike his cohorts, this man actually has a conscience. Juliette’s sense of honor and filial duty cast her as a heroine. However when these two forces come together, the fallout might get them both killed.

Percy Blakeney’s role in this near-tragedy is to save both of our principals from literally losing their heads over their own sense of duty. Here, the inimitable Scarlet Pimpernel is as amusingly inventive as he was in Sir Percy Leads the Band. As in all Scarlet Pimpernel novels, Blakeney’s methods of foiling the revolutionaries’ blood lust and saving their doomed captives are still a large part of the series’ mystique.

Now that I have tantalized you with the prospect of a movie, who would I cast in these roles? How about Sasha Alexander (NCIS and Rizzoli & Isles) as Juliette and Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) as Déroulède? Simon Baker (The Mentalist), in spite of his small stature, would make an admirable Percy Blakeney.


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