Tag Archives: Julia Quinn

Agents of the Crown Series: How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

(This was written using the romance review template I created for my post on Mary Balogh’s A Handful of Gold)

How to Marry a Marquis is a romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted variety”: Boy meets girl. He is the wealthy nephew of a marriage-minded aunt. She is the impoverished companion of said aunt and also responsible for her younger siblings. Boy and girl move forward together secure in their love and commitment.

 A historical romance set in rural Regency England and written by Julia Quinn, How to Marry a Marquis is my 15th or 16th book by this author.  I generally find her work fun. Quinn is a deft and witty writer who excels at spinning light-hearted romance. I have covered all of the novels in her justly famous Bridgerton series in previous reviews. I found How to Marry a Marquis enjoyable and romantic. I will continue to seek out Quinn’s other novels because this one was really good, and I would recommend this particular effort.

The main plot of How to Marry a Marquis  focuses on the reformation of a rake. James Sidwell,  Marquis of Riverdale is that rake. He is urbane, charming, and sincere. He handles challenging situations with humour and aplomb. The heroine, Elizabeth Hotchkiss, is a victim of circumstance. She is also charming, resolute, and hardworking. Elizabeth’s parents have both passed away and she is responsible for the financial well-being of the family. She works for local harridan (and Quinn fan favourite) Lady Danbury to help get by, but her financial situation is worsening. Elizabeth finds an instructional book called How to Marry a Marquis in Lady Danbury’s library and decides to “practice” on the new estate manager, James. What Elizabeth does not know is that James is a family member or his true purpose in the house. They are instantly attracted to each other. Over time, they come to discover that despite any challenges they face, they make an excellent team.

How to Marry a Marquis is one of Julia Quinn’s earlier efforts and it is delightful. I have read just about everything in her oeuvre and as her recent efforts are experiencing a, relatively speaking, fall in quality, it was nice to read something written when Quinn was coming into the phase in which she would produce her best work.  I recommend Quinn highly as a gateway author for those looking to give historical romance a try. She is the genre’s best at crafting deceptively simple, sincere, and funny romance.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn

If you want to know if you should read this book, please answer the following questions:

a. Have you read at least five of the Bridgerton family books by historical romance author Julia Quinn?
b. Did you like them? (Except Francesca’s book. No one in their right mind liked Francesca’s book.)
c. Do you like new stories about characters you already know?
d. Did you fall at the zoo because you were carrying your child who is too large to be carried?
e. Did you spend the evening icing your bruised left foot and probably sprained right ankle?
f. Did you fall asleep on the couch with your legs elevated above your heart?
g. When you awoke and hobbled to the bathroom, did you manage to call out to your spouse/significant other right before you fainted on the potty?
h. After coming to, did you have cold sweats for 45 – 60 minutes, you can’t be sure how long because time had lost all meaning, but that’s how long your spouse/significant other said it was?
i. When you went to bed did stomach flu start, but no matter what you tried you couldn’t throw up?
j. Did you go to the bathroom to wait out the nausea and to continue trying to throw up?
k. Did you want something light to read to fill the time?
l. When you succeeded in throwing up (toothbrush), did your spouse/significant other call out a supportive “Yay!” from the bedroom?
m. Did you and your spouse/significant other go to the walk in clinic while your mother who is visiting and had planned to go with you to the Metropolitan Museum to see this exhibit stayed with your child?
n. Did you have three hours to fill at the walk in clinic while they confirmed your bruised left foot and definitely sprained right ankle?

If you answered, “yes” to these questions, this is the perfect book for you.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.


The Bridgertons Series: On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn is an excellent gateway author for people curious about historical romance. I raced through her catalogue (as did my mother) at the beginning of my obsession, when I was greedy and the entire genre lay before me like a shameful buffet.  I came back to her now because even lesser Quinn is better than most everything else, and I just can’t face any more bad romance (although I’m not ready to change what I’m reading). Last year, I didn’t bother to read this last book in Quinn’s justly popular Bridgerton family series because the reviews were comparatively lacklustre, but reading one of her new-to-me books after so much tripe was a treat.

Gregory Bridgerton has watched all seven of his siblings make happy marriages. He longs for true love and will settle for nothing less. Pole-axed when he lays eyes on the beautiful Hermione Watson, he decides that this must be it. Hermione’s best friend, Lucy, is accustomed to witnessing these reactions, but decides to help Gregory because he is the lesser of two evils, the other one being Hermione’s unacceptable secret love for her father’s secretary, and because he is the best of the long line of besotted fools. Gregory gets distracted by Lucy.

Delightfully wry and fun, you will find yourself laughing out loud at Julia Quinn’s books. She is a deft writer, witty and charming. The prose is clever and feels effortless, and she limits herself to the love story which greatly appeals to the purist in me. Quinn does longing and banter extremely well, as well as that fluttery feeling of incipient affection. Her characters are extremely likeable and the family dynamics are particularly entertaining.  The only challenge is that it seems to be hard for her to shift gears when the going needs to get tough.  Everything glides along beautifully, but when the action in On the Way to the Wedding gets ratcheted up, it’s too sudden a tonal shift and jarred with the carefully crafted buoyancy of the rest of the story, but that’s a quibble, not a condemnation.  However imperfect, Julia Quinn is still one of the best writers in the genre.

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The Bridgertons Series: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Let’s start with a visual, shall we? After all, it is a romance novel and book cover art can be so dull.

The Duke and I is the first novel in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton family series. It features Daphne Bridgerton, a young woman in her second season “out”, and Simon, Duke of Hastings, the erstwhile best friend of her brother, Anthony. Simon has been away for 6 years waiting for his father, a complete bastard, to die. He has returned to London to inherit his title and in doing so both accept and reject, as far as he is able, his role in life. Simon attends a soiree at the home of (recurring character) Lady Danbury and runs into Daphne as she tries to quash her only suitor’s advances. Daphne has not had luck with beaux. Men only see her as a friend because, rather than a fashionable flibbertigibbet, she is lovely, grounded, and kind. Now, who would want that? Guess. Simon is attracted to her instantly, but realising she is his best friend’s sister, errs on the side of propriety and backs off. The Fates and Plot Points intervene and the two of them settle into a friendship based on London society’s perception of their affection for each other: He escorts her to balls to deflect the unwanted attentions of marriage-minded women and to simultaneously make Daphne seem more appealing to suitable men by association with him. It works, but of course they fall in love, and, of course, there are obstacles, specifically Simon’s reluctance to marry and carry on his family name. The moment he gives in to his feelings for Daphne, they are caught in a compromising situation and the dance toward the happy ending is set in motion as, of course, they must marry…

While it would seem that I read the best of the Bridgerton, series first, I really enjoyed The Duke and I. Julia Quinn is especially good at the banter I look for in these books and she also manages to create a sense of anticipation in a story with a pre-determined ending. That is no small feat. This novel also had the added advantage of characters having genuine conversations. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for, but often romance novel interactions consist of projecting personality factoids at each other and waiting to kiss. Quinn creates believable people; they are beautiful, rich and charming, but at least they seem real enough to let you care about them. Lastly, Quinn is by far the best author I have found for balancing the love and sex elements.

A Bridgerton series summary is included in my review of Gregory’s book On the Way to the Wedding.

Reviewer’s Note:

I’ve read 20 historical romance novels in the past month and I have to ask –

What is with all of the French kissing? As God as my witness, last weekend, I read a kissing description in which the hero licked the roof of the heroine’s mouth. Is that even possible? Was he Gene Simmons? Is that an image you want in your head reading one of these books? Let me answer that for you: No, it is not. Do you remember when you discovered kissing, or, better still, kissed someone you were so smitten with that it was heady, electric, devastatingly swoony, and so many other delightful things? Remember those kisses? These books need more of that. In romance novels, the men are experienced, but the woman are certainly unaccustomed to being kissed. So imagine yourself as an inexperienced and, no doubt, uninformed young woman. You are being kissed by this man, this beautiful man. How much tongue is involved? How quickly? Is he flossing your uvula? These writers use tongue calisthenics to show the intensity of the leads’ connection, but don’t necessarily capture that magical kiss feeling. The racier the novel, the more violent, thrusting (in a “primitive rhythm”), sweeping, possessive, and getting into every nook and cranny of her mouth his tongue gets. There must be a way to describe kissing that is romantic, passionate and erotic, and doesn’t slide into inept erotica.

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Bridgertons Series: An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

As my ignominious devouring of romance novels continues and I present another one for review, I must start by making sure everyone bothering to read this is on the same page: There are two basic types of heroes in these books a) Laconic Warrior (usually a Laird or Cowboy) and b) Reformed Rakes Make the Best Husbands (titled and/or rich charming rake) as detailed in my first review. I prefer the Rakes by a mile. The books below are what I have read recently; I’m not counting them in my CBR total, but this is what I have been up (sunk) to:

Ransom – Julie Garwood – Laconic Warrior – predictable Garwood (which is not a bad thing, she’s reliable)
Honour’s Splendour – Julie Garwood – Laconic Warrior predictable Garwood
Prince Charming – Julie Garwood – Laconic Warrior, sub par Garwood
The Bride – Julie Garwood – Laconic Warrior – predictable Garwood
Once and Always – Judith McNaught – Reformed Rakes Make the Best Husbands. Charming Cynical Bastard. Gorgeous Bastard. Asshole. Rapist.
Temptation and Surrender – Stephanie Laurens – Surprisingly graphic, thisclosetosmut, occasionally hot, but not romantic
An Ideal Bride – Stephanie Laurens – Surprisingly graphic: 20 page sex scenes, really? Nervous virgins do things like that? Really?
The Heir – Joanna Lindsey – Tepid, underwritten, and dull.

Oh, but then Amazon helped me discover Julia Quinn. She knows her way around a Reformed Rake, although, truthfully, they are more experienced charmers than genuinely rakish. I so don’t care. As is common with romance writers, Quinn created a series of books built around a family group, in this case the 8 Bridgerton children. Each is given their own book and, according to Amazon, the quality diminishes as one progresses through them. Last Friday, I picked up An Offer from a Gentleman (Bridgerton Family #3) about Benedict, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Bridgerton Family #4) featuring Colin. I’d finished both of them by Saturday night. All of the family are described as having chestnut hair and wide mouths, and, although their eye colour varies, I choose to picture the men as all looking like a variation of this (but English and during the Regency):

I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself.

Now THESE are romance novels. Not the overwrought conflagration of sex scenes of Stephanie Laurens wherein everyone is on fire and ends up in the stars, or the tepid high school insufficiencies of Joanna Lindsey. Julia Quinn gets it right: There are no dramatic subplots just to fill pages; the writing is funny; the relationships are romantic; and there is playful banter. Oh, how I love the banter. The men are extremely attractive, and the women, well, the women are of the Wallflower/Why Didn’t Anyone Notice Me Sooner? variety. As a woman who never garnered much male attention, I relate to this type quite well because, in the real world, people don’t actually find it enchanting when you talk like a Gilmore Girl by way of Katharine Hepburn. Anyway, in An Offer from a Gentleman , Benedict (son #2) first meets Sophie Beckett (abused bastard daughter of the late Earl of Penwood) at a masked ball her stepmother has forbidden her to attend. She has to leave quickly and he doesn’t even find out her name.  Left with only the mystery woman’s glove, Benedict spends months looking for, and dreaming of, the woman he met. Mercifully, the description of those months lasts just a couple of pages. Meanwhile, Sophie is a little busier as she is cast out of her home and must find work as a servant. Their paths cross again two years later when Benedict saves her from being attacked and then, conveniently, falls ill and she stays with him. All of these books contain these contrivances and, again, I so don’t care. They fall for each other all over again, but she will not reveal they have met before, and he cannot marry a woman of her station/origins. In between the meeting and the marrying, the reader gets delightful interplay between the characters, genuinely romantic descriptions of how they feel about one another, and some well-written love scenes (although at least one more would have been nice). This book was exactly what I was looking for. I may even have taken a reading break to run into the living room to yell at Mr. Julien, “OH MY GOD! I LOVE THIS BOOK!”

I have ordered Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books 1 and 2 (Daphne, then Anthony) used from Amazon. If I’m going to read this stuff, the least I can do is only pay 1 cent, plus shipping, for it. Next up after Quinn is Lisa Kleypas’ The Devil in Winter. I’ve decided not to review any more of these books, but I can tell you that the Devil excerpts I’ve read on Amazon held the promise a genuine rakehell at last. (2019 Update: HA! HA! HA!)

A summary of Julia Quinn’s catalogue can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.