Or, I read a (…nother…) Julia Quinn novel and quite liked it.
I am not a connoisseur of Regency romance (having only read… one? maybe two?) before this, so I have no idea what conventions Quinn might be playing, breaking, or taking outrageous advantage of. So I can only comment on the book itself, not its place in the genre.
Did I know basically what was going to happen within the first chapter?
Did the book still serve up a few surprises?
Yes, a couple. They were quite fun, actually, since most of the plot was predictable.
Did I enjoy reading it?
I read it in a sitting. So, yes. The writing is light and witty, winsome and undemanding. I liked the alternating perspective between Our Romantic Heroes. I liked (sorry Gail Carriger) that there wasn’t a big emphasis on the clothes, nor the food. I like banter, and this has quite a lot.
What about the characters?
Daphne is a forthright, sensible woman who holds out little hope of romance but would at least like to like her husband. She comes from a big, loving family. I liked her, overall; I was a bit disappointed by her eagerness to marry and have children as the be-all, but: a) why not? She’s allowed to desire that; b) as we’re reminded early on, she’s not allowed to go to university if she wants to, and she can’t aim for an awesome career – partly because she’s female, and partly because she’s gentry and they just… don’t work.
Simon had a damaged childhood. Now he’s the duke. He’s been a rake, has no intention of marrying… etc. While I sympathised with his experiences, he was certainly less interesting to me than Daphne.
Are there problematic bits?
Sure. I am always uncomfortable with the Mrs Bennett-ing of all mothers. Quinn turns the tables somewhat with Violet, and gives a marvellous hint at her actually being a very smart woman, but it wasn’t quite enough to stop me from sighing a few times at the ‘must catch the daughter a husband’ thing. Maybe it’s historical verisimilitude, but that doesn’t make it pleasant to read about.
There’s also an instance of maybe-taking-advantage-of-someone that made me uncomfortable, which then did get explored for ‘who did what’ but it still made me sad.
Will I read more?
Daphne is one of eight children. I did wonder why Quinn was ravishing so much attention on the beauty and allure of Daphne’s brothers… and then I discovered that there are, of course, eight novels in this series. Marrying off each of the children, one by one. I must admit to being somewhat intrigued, not least because I really want to find out who the gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown, is. Two of my candidates got blown out of the water by the last page, but I still have one possibility in mind…. So, maybe.
You have some really interesting points here. I think a lot of romance can be a bit predictable, but really, the good writers always manage to keep you on your toes.