The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 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 is 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 is 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...
While beginning with a rather common and ordinary series of events found in most romance novels, Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me turns out to be quite the diamond in the rough. This gem may hide in a genre strewn with often classless and indulgent reading, but a quality read it is nonetheless.
I vaguely recall reading a different novel of Quinn’s last year; this previous sentence possibly contains the worst recommendation I can give a book- the ability to be forgotten. I have noticed that the reception a book gets can fall into three categories. One, positive reception by both critics and readers alike (a rare response, though not impossible). Two, the love/hate combination. The book is either loved or hated by readers. However, either way, it evokes a passionate response. And lastly, a book can fall into the murky pond of meritocracy through a lukewarm (at best) reception. (There is a fourth category: books universally despised, but I try not to focus on these.)
The Quinn novel I read last year drowned rather unfortunately in the aforementioned pond. I could not understand the allure of the writer’s style and held little expectation for any other book by Quinn.
But, in an effort to read all the Top 100 books ascribed in a list created by All About Romance, I decided to give Mrs. Quinn another try.
When I first began The Viscount, I actually began to wonder if it was that unfortunate book I read a year past. (This is not due to The Viscount’s quality; Even early on, I felt that it was more well-written than I had anticipated). This confusion was due to a few references to minor characters who had appeared in that other book.)
I have often thought that it is nearly impossible to fit a believable relationship, slowly escalating, into any novel. The Viscount throws this idea aside. By page 150, a flawless weaving of various scenes had me convinced that it was possible.
The farther into the novel I read, the more our handsome viscount reminded me of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. And while Mrs. Quinn has been compared to Jane Austen in the past, I personally can think of no higher compliment than being compared to Charlotte Bronte. Since fanatics of both Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen are not altogether common (due to stylistic differences), it seems Mrs. Quinn has won over fans of both by combining Bronte’s characters’ passion with Austen’s refined writing technique.
In conclusion, I have been completely and utterly converted into a Quinn fan. I am not certain of whether my opinion of the other Quinn book I read was somewhat jaded for some reason or another and should be fully overlooked; however I am certain that if Quinn has composed one such masterpiece of romance, some of her other works must be worth my while as well. I will be seeking out more Quinn romances in the future.
I have a pleasant feeling that I will be basking in The Viscount’s warm glow for a few days more yet.
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