By Julia Quinn
I will admit – I did not reread THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME for this review. It is not on my dorm bookshelf, so I will have to forego some reviewer integrity. However, this book made such an impression on me (and I have reread it many times) that I feel I can write this review without being too hard on myself. I chose to write about THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED me because it is my favorite Julia Quinn – and TGTBTU is hosting a “Fly It Forward” contest for an ARC of her forthcoming novel, THE LOST DUKE OF WYNDHAM.
The hero and heroine could be boring archetypes. Kate Sheffield is a plain virgin and the eponymous Viscount Anthony Bridgerton is a reformed rake. Quinn fleshes her characters out and makes their motives clear (and understandable to a rational person). Kate seems like nothing special because her half-sister Edwina is something special. She does not envy her sister and become bitter, but instead loves her and wishes to protect her, though she knows Eloise must marry for money rather than love. Fear rules Anthony.
Anthony’s beloved father died young of a bee sting. Now Anthony fears both bees and dying the same age as his father. While he needs to produce an heir, he does not wish to marry for love because he knows how losing his father hurt his mother. He decides to marry this Season’s Incomparable: Edwina. Kate, of course, wants better than a rake for her sister – no matter how rich.
Instead, a bee causes Kate and Anthony to be caught in a compromising position by a known gossip. They marry immediately, unsatisfied with the match. Quinn allows love to bloom between the two without resorting to deus ex machina. Not only does Kate and Anthony’s relationship shine, but so do the familial relations and Edwina’s own quieter romance.
The Bridgerton siblings are obvious fodder for a series. Yet their appearance in THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME makes you want to read each of their individual tales. They seem like a real family, very competitive and teasing, instead of like characters to be rendered in three dimensions at a later date. When Kate sends Anthony’s ball flying during a game of croquet, you know she is going to be comfortable with the family. Throughout the novel you can also see that Anthony’s going to be a terrific father.
It could grate that he only wants a wife for her womb. (A common situation, especially in those days, but not one from which romances are made.) However, you see how much he loved his own father and how well he has served as a surrogate father for his younger siblings. The reader knows he will live a long life with Kate and their children, overcoming his fear of an early death.
Quinn also begins each chapter with a passage from the gossip column of Lady Whistledown. Witty and surprisingly kind, her observations create an excellent frame for the story. Readers can enjoy guessing the woman’s identity.
Pick up THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME to experience a light-hearted and believable romance. Pick up THE LOST DUKE OF WYNDHAM when it comes out on May 27th. Find out more about Julia Quinn by visiting her well-designed website.