Tag Archives: Julia Quinn

Re-Read Challenge: “The Viscount Who Loved Me” By Julia Quinn

31 May

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: May!

Quinn, Julia - The Viscount Who Loved Me
GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2000

SERIES: “Bridgerton” series, #2

AVAILABILITY: still available


The back blurb:
1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this Author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton. London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry.
And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better…

–Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1814

But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry–he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield–the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands–and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate’s determined to protect her sister–but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…”


Then

The Viscount Who Loved Me was my first novel by Julia Quinn (Feb. 2001). I know I thought the way it was written refreshing: it was fun and humorous and I didn’t mind its “modern” tone. I loved this novel. That is, the first part. I lost some of my interest during the second part (last third of the novel) though I still liked it. The story got darker and I think I hadn’t a lot of patience for why the two didn’t just admit their love already. And yet, I still call The Viscount Who Loved Me one of my favorite Bridgerton novels.

What better way than this challenge to find out if that is still true?

Now (somewhat spoilerish maybe)

The Viscount Who Loved Me follows well-known story paths. Or perhaps it’s better to say: the story paths in this novel are well-known because many stories after this novel used them?

Anyway, we have Kate Sheffield, aging spinster sister to the belle of the season, Edwina Sheffield; Kate Sheffield who nevertheless still loves her sister; Kate Sheffield who says this about Anthony Bridgerton, well-known rake, on the lookout for a wife and settling on Edwina Sheffield because she’s regarded as the belle of the season:

Don’t be silly. I don’t even know the man. And if I did, I would probably run in the opposite direction. He is exactly the sort of man the two of us should avoid at all costs. He could probably seduce an iceberg.” (12)

“You are not to have anything to do with Viscount Bridgerton. Everyone knows he is the worst sort of rake. In fact, he’s the worst rake, period. In all London. In the entire country!” (19)

We all know how that is going to turn out.

And we have Anthony who has a handy list of requirements for what his wife should be like:

First, she ought to be reasonable attractive.
Second, she couldn’t be stupid
Third–and this was the most important–she couldn’t be anyone with whom he might actually fall in love.

We all know how that–especially #3– is going to turn out. (#3 is also the stumbling block on the road to HEA and turns the last third of the novel into something more serious than what came before.)

Kate and Anthony meet for the first time:

Anthony belatedly realized that Miss Sheffield had held her hand to him, as was only polite. He took it and brushed a light kiss across her gloved knuckles. “Miss Sheffield,” he murmured unthinkingly, “you are as lovely as your sister.”
If she had seemed uncomfortable before, her bearing now turned downright hostile. And Anthony realized with a mental slap that he’d said exactly the wrong thing. Of course he should not have compared her to her sister. It was the one compliment she could never have believed.
“And you, Lord Bridgerton,” she replied in a tone that could have frozen champagne, “are almost as handsome as your brother.” (39/40)

Kate and Anthony seem to be at odds every time they are in close company. Early in their acquaintance Anthony admits to Kate the he can’t seem to help himself where she is concerned: he just has to bait her.

And so, from their first meeting, the baiting and fun just goes on: the walk with Kate’s dog Newton that has Anthony running in a park and ending with him wet, Kate hiding in Anthony’s study to avoid him only to be discovered by him, the Pall Mall game and the mallet of Death, the bee sting,… There are lots of scenes and funny lines worth quoting in this novel.

But amidst all the hilarity – The Viscount Who Loved Me is often laugh-out-loud fun – there is room for unsettling and poignant realizations:

Anthony felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. He fought the most ridiculous impulse to leap forward and grab the key from the carpet, to get down on one knee and hand it to her, to apologize for his conduct and beg her forgiveness.
But he would do none of those things. He did not want to mend this breach; he did not want her favorable opinion.
Because that elusive spark–the one so noticeably absent wit her sister, whom he intended to marry–crackled and burned so strongly it seemed the room ought to be as light as day. (116)

He might have been a rake and a rogue–he might still be a rake and a rouge–but clearly his behavior to those ends did not define the man. And the only objection Kate had to his marrying Edwina was…
She swallowed painfully. There was a lump the size of a cannonball in her throat.
Because deep in her heart, she wanted him for herself. (202)

and quite and connecting moments, like when Anthony finds Kate terrified and paralyzed by fear because of a thunderstorm.

And then, in a twist of fate, Kate finds herself married to Anthony, and it’s time for the last third of the novel, the part I so far thought less enjoyable.

The story now concentrates on Anthony’s reason why he doesn’t want to fall in love with his wife (rule #3). This fact of their married life – that there never will be love between them – is something Anthony tells Kate in no uncertain terms in a conversation before the wedding. Only, against her better judgement and fear of always being second in her life to someone else, Kate finds herself falling more and more in love with her husband. The novel, while keeping up the fun turn of phrases, turns rather dark and serious underneath while Anthony battles his demons and learns about the nature of love.

This time around, I really appreciated what was done in the last third of the novel though I still find it different. What begins as a light, fun, and hilarious story of two people finding themselves attracted to each other against their will and battling against it for all they are worth, is now a story of two people trying to find their way in a marriage that is supposed to be based on friendship, only to learn that love can’t be governed by the mind. Love will find a way and knows no rules. And for that other look at love and romance, I now love the second part of this novel as well.

Verdict: Reading The Viscount Who Loved Me for this challenge made this novel “whole” for me. (5/5)

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Julia Quinn – “The Lost Duke of Wyndham”

11 Jul


GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked other novels by Julia Quinn + good reviews


The back blurb:
“Jack Audley has been a highwayman. A soldier. And he has always been a rogue. What he is not, and never wanted to be, is a peer of the realm, responsible for an ancient heritage and the livelihood of hundreds. But when he is recognized as the long-lost son of the House of Wyndham, his carefree life is over. And if his birth proves to be legitimate, then he will find himself with the one title he never wanted: Duke of Wyndham.
Grace Eversleigh has spent the last five years toiling as the companion to the dowager Duchess of Wyndham. It is a thankless job, with very little break from the routine… until Jack Audley lands in her life, all rakish smiles and debonair charm. He is not a man who takes no for an answer, and when she is in his arms, she’s not a woman who wants to say no. But if he is the true duke, then he is the one man she can never have…”


I’m somewhat at a loss what to make of this novel. After I finished it, I thought it a typical “meh” book. There wasn’t a real spark that captured me but there wasn’t anything staring-you-in-the-eye “bad” either. I read along fairly easily, the only thing I thought then was that the pacing was slightly off at times. I didn’t mind the modern feel of the story and writing and there weren’t many huh? moments to pull me out of the story. But I wanted to know why “meh?” and so I looked at the different elements of the story and started to think about them (and that’s not always good).

The main characters:
Both Grace and Jack have nearly no character development in this story, IMO. The only thing that really changes is that both have a different position in society than at the beginning of the story. But other than that, there is nearly nothing. I think Jack is supposed to bring Grace out of the subdued state her job has forced on her, but I didn’t really see that in the story aside from that he makes her laugh (which she has to hide). Jack is the typical do-good highwayman. He’s frequently described as charming and occasionally he acts like it, but I think of him more as a carefree character. It’s clear he isn’t suited for the dukedom (character, education) and at the end, another reason for his reluctance is revealed (which would have worked better with a sooner revelation). But apart from his frequently stated unwillingness there’s nothing to indicate he thinks about this at all. He still doesn’t want it at the end, but then there’s the epilogue and he is.

That’s not to say I didn’t like them; they were just not distinct enough IMO to be really interesting.

The romance:
The romance in The Lost Duke of Wyndham is a love-at-first-sight romance. As such, there is not much inherent conflict in the romance itself. Both characters are in love with each other (or at least attracted to each other) from the start. A love-at-first-sight romance needs interesting scenes between the hero and the heroine but more than that, it relies on an interesting external conflict (and other elements) to keep the reader in suspense and reading, IMO. I think the scenes between Grace and Jack were quite all right if somewhat bland (probably due to the generic characters) and the external conflict… well, it’s the next point.

The main / external conflict:
The external conflict in The Lost Duke of Wyndham is: is Jack the true Duke of Wyndham? If yes, he can’t marry Grace because of the inequality of their social position. There are two problems with that: 1. It’s very clear early on that Jack is the true duke so no suspension there; 2. I didn’t perceive the difference in Grace’s and Jack’s social position as so great to be a real hindrance to marriage and therefore this plot element wasn’t really convincing. This impression was probably intensified by Quinn’s modern way to write.

So after thinking about it, this story has nothing I look for in reading. Nearly no character development, a romance that couldn’t carry the story on its own, and no convincing external conflict. But I said also, there’s nothing overtly “bad” about it. It was only after I started to think why it didn’t work, that I fully grasped all of the above. But then again, when I ask myself what I liked about it, I can’t come up with an convincing answer. It was easy to read and there were a few things I remember thinking something like “that’s good” but I can’t recall specific things. So what to make of it?

Last thoughts:

  • I thought Thomas the most interesting character.
  • The dowager Duchess is a bit much.
  • Do the problems I had with this novel stem from the fact that it tells only part of the story?

Would I recommend this novel? Maybe, although there are novels by Quinn I liked better.

Would I read this novel again? Probably not.

Grade: 3 / 5 (my usual grade for a “meh” book; going down when I think about it too much)


Novels Read – Some Comments

10 Oct


Jessica Bird: The Billionaire Next Door

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

I ordered this because I liked Bird’s A Man in a Million. The Billionaire next Door (now it’s billionaire? *snort*) is a nice read. The heroine, Lizzy, is a nurse and Sean, the hero, is some high-level New York something. It’s a story about trust and the lack of it, and although this premise leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings – and they do happen – they’re not stupid and handled rather well. Plus, Lizzy doesn’t take crap from Sean, tells him what she thinks of his behaviour, and acts accordingly.

Grade: 4 / 5



Meljean Brook: Demon Moon

Genre: Romance / Paranormal

This is a very character-driven story. In terms of action, there’s not much that happens: some creatures discovered a way to escape Chaos and Colin’s the only one who can fix it. And yet, there’s nothing boring or slow about this story. I had fun reading it. The end felt a bit too wrapped up and fast and why is it that every on in this story is super smart?

Grade: 4,5 / 5



Julie Anne Long: The Secret to Seduction

Genre: Romance / Historical

Previously, I read one other novel by Long and what I remember best about it is that I liked her voice and that I thought she showed the falling-in-love part rather well. And these are the things I like best about TSTS also. There are some wonderful parts in there. I know this is the end of a series, and I the other novel I read by Long was not part of it, but I didn’t feel too lost. I found the parts about the sisters a bit annoying/distracting but that’s probably because I didn’t read their stories. At the end, there is something I just couldn’t wrap my head around that it could happen. It involves a newspaper, and even an editor would do such a thing (*snort*), I would doubt the amount of money mentioned here.

Grade: 4,5 / 5



Robin D. Owens: Heart Duel

Genre: Romance / Science fiction (Futuristic)

Robin D. Owens’s “Heart Mate” series features a lot of elements I’m not too crazy about: cutesy names for people and things along with cutesy animals, an abundance of apostrophes, the soul-mate premise, and a writing style that, while it’s not bad, doesn’t really click the way Long’s does, for example. And yet this is the third novel by Owens I read. Why? Well, I like Owens world and I think there is a lot of potential to create conflict because of the strong ties that exist between character and Flair. In Heart Duel we have a hero with a Flair for fighting and a heroine with a Flair for healing. The problem I always have with her novels is that in my eyes Owens’s has yet to realize fully the potential for conflict. It’s all a bit understated. For example, when the hero learns about his heartmate it goes something like this: “lalala heartmate lalalala.” For me, this short scene didn’t convey the emotions I expected after a) suddenly discovering that there is a heartmate for you (thinking your whole life you don’t have one) and b) it’s the daughter of the enemy. It felt anti-climatic and I had to “fill in the blanks” more than I liked. There are other instances where I got the same feeling which often made for a disjointed read. I think a few sentences now and then (“telling” would suffice) would help my over-dramatic and melodramatic little self there. Anyway, I keep buying and waiting and hoping that one day there’s a story that hits all the right notes for me because somehow I like Owens world. This one got better after a slow start.

Grade: 3,5 / 5



Julia Quinn: On the Way to the Wedding

Genre: Romance / Historical

I really enjoyed this story. Starting with the climax was a good way to keep me reading. After all, romance readers know that the hero and the heroine will end up together. So in OTWTTW, there’s not only the question how the hero and the heroine will fall in love but also, what happened that the heroine is about to marry another man at the end of the novel. And all that is delivered with nice characters and a closer look at falling in love at first sight, being in love, and loving someone. In the whirl of all this, the historically incorrect solution didn’t bother me at all. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel.

Grade: 4+ / 5



Karen Rose: I’m Watching You

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Now this is a romantic suspense novel deserving of of both its name. Too often, I find romantic suspense lacking in suspense and/or romance. It’s a combination that’s not easy to get right, at least to keep me interested. But Rose hit nearly all the right notes for me with this one.

Grade: 4 / 5