My reviews of the best of Julia Quinn continue with It’s in His Kiss. The penultimate book in the Bridgerton series, if you don’t count the catch-up novella, it has one of my favourite heroines in romance, and the hero is not so bad either. The writing is, as always, deft and witty, and the banter is especially good, even for a Julia Quinn novel.
The youngest child of eight, Hyacinth Bridgerton was born one month after the untimely death of her father. Surrounded by a loving family, she is confident, intelligent, and, to quote those who love her, “diabolical”. No shrinking violet, but not a brat either, Hyacinth has learned to hold her own as the baby of the family and, just maybe, is therefore uncomfortable in situations in which she does not feel in control of her environment. This kind of situation arises in particular when she is faced with an appealing young man who can keep up, or perhaps even challenge her.
Charming, droll, and a bit of a rogue, Gareth St. Clair’s family life is almost the opposite of Hyacinth’s. As he points out, he has but one person in the world to love. Fortunately for him, it is his grandmother, and Quinn fan favourite, Lady Danbury. Terrifyingly direct and more than a bit managing, Lady Danbury is delighted to encourage Gareth’s interest in Hyacinth, especially as the women have in many ways the same personality. Despite but one relation he can rely on, Gareth does have a father and the elder St. Clair not so much twirls his moustache, but pushes every single one of his son’s buttons every time they meet. Gareth is his legitimate heir by law, but not by conception, and his father does what he can to make Gareth’s life miserable, including cutting him off and taking vindictive delight in emptying the family coffers.
Gareth’s ability and joy in stopping the force of nature in her tracks is a delight and, naturally, the main event, but beyond the love story, It’s in His Kiss is a treasure hunt. When his paternal grandmother’s diary falls into his hands, Gareth asks Hyacinth to translate the Italian and she discovers that the unhappily married woman had stashed a set of jewels somewhere in Gareth’s family home – the one that he was kicked out of years before.They spend their time skulking around Mayfair late at night and falling in love.
The novel has some minor glitches, but the characters are so winning it’s hard to object. Bridgerton series followers have watched Hyacinth grow up and here her bravado and vim are in full flower; having Lady Danbury as a counterpoint is a smart character choice since Hyacinth mirrors her so well. With an excellent match in Gareth, the reader can be confident that theirs will truly be a marriage of equals and that Gareth and Hyacinth genuinely delight in each other.