We all have plot devices we don’t entirely love. One of the ones that I tend to shy away from is the “girl in breeches” trope. On the other hand, once I started thinking about it, I realized that there are a vast number of exceptions to my “no books about women posing as men” rule.
If you like books with women posing as men, you’ll probably like….
— There’s nothing like the master! Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in which Rosalind flees into the Forest of Arden disguised as a young man named Ganymede, and, of course, Twelfth Night, in which the shipwrecked Viola disguises herself as the page Cesario, falling hopelessly in love with Orsino, who eventually reciprocates the sentiment (as my Shakespeare prof in college used to say, “We know what the pet names in that family will be!”).
— Georgette Heyer’s The Corinthian, sheer, madcap fun in which the heroine poses, as various points, as a schoolboy, the hero’s cousin, and his nephew;
— Also Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades, in which the heroine, Leonie, has been raised as Leon, and serves as the hero’s page before being schooled as a lady;
— Going very Old School, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s Civil War set Ashes in the Wind, in which the heroine, Alaina, poses as “Al”, the lad who helps out in the hospital (until the brooding Yankee doctor takes him under his wing and tries to make “him” take a bath);
— And more Old School, that classic of high camp, Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue, in which the heroine, Georgina, can only get passage home to America by posing as “George”, a lowly cabin boy;
— While we’re on the high seas, Carole Nelson Douglas’s seventeenth century swashbuckler, Fair Wind, Fiery Star, in which the heroine, Miranda, goes disguised as a boy on two separate occasions, once as a cabin boy, and once as a young man come to town in London;
— More recently, Eloisa James’s Duchess By Night, one of her Desperate Duchess series, in which the widowed Duchess of Berrow decides to spice up her life by attending a house party as a young man;
— And even more recently, Juliana Gray’s Princesses in Disguise trilogy, beginning with How to Tame Your Duke, in which three princesses from a German principality with a Wodehouse-esque name are whisked to safety disguised as boys– and adventure and romance ensues.
What are your favorite girls disguised as boys novels?