Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Prolixity Julien’s #CBR4 Review #4: 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, subpar 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. The phrase “just deserts” occurs twice.

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. (Yes, it is Cinderella, but it moves on very quickly from there, so I’m willing to forgive it.) 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 (wonderful) tripe, 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.

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10 thoughts on “Prolixity Julien’s #CBR4 Review #4: An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

  1. cbr4helena on said:

    I’m not generally a fan of romance novels, but your review makes me want to read one! I think I’ll look for this one at the library…and thanks for the lovely picture. 🙂

  2. Who is that guy? Is he famous? Random model?

    I’m thinking that you might like Susan Elizabeth Phillips. They’re not historical romance, but they’re fun to read.

  3. His name is Reynaldo Gianecchini. He’s a Brazilian actor.

  4. I actually love good romance. But you have to kiss a lot of toads to find the good ones. Have never read Julia Quinn and the covers aren’t horrible so will definitely check her out!

  5. Julia Quinn’s books are some of my absolute favorite historical romances: You’re right – it’s the banter. (The Bridgertons are just the beginning – she has a substantial backlist, and generally writes at least one book a year.) Lisa Kleypas is another of my favorites, so I’m looking forward to your review.

  6. I’ve been choosing based on Amazon reviews and the first 4 Bridgerton books are the highest rated. I’m not sure how long this phase will last, but I plan to enjoy it while it does. Is there another author you can recommend?

    From the excerpts, Kleypas seems to be a lot more, um, active. I just hope it’s well-written and not sound and fury signifying nothing.

  7. Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels do vary in quality, absolutely, but the first four really are delightful, and I have trouble choosing which one I love more when it comes to Anthony and Benedict. Although Daphne is also good. The latter four siblings have less awesome books – but Hyacinth’s story in “It’s in His Kiss” is very sweet. The only Bridgerton book I’d recommend skipping entirely (the only one I don’t own) is Francesca’s book, “When He was Wicked”, which just bored me.

    While most of her books are filled with the same delicious banter and genuinely delightful plots, I would also advise staying far away from “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever”, which is the only one I actively hated, and “Mr. Cavendish, I Presume” and “To Catch an Heiress”, neither of which are very entertaining. Her most recent one – “Just Like Heaven” was also a bit drippy, and mostly amusing because it dealt with one of the Smith-Smythe girls (of the dreaded musicales mentioned in a ton of other Quinn books).

    If you like Julia Quinn and you’re looking for another GREAT romance author, check out Loretta Chase. She’s only written one disappointing romance in her career (“Don’t Tempt Me”). Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran are also pretty much solid gold.

  8. Thank you for the recommendations and taking the time to comment. They are VERY MUCH appreciated as I don’t want to time on poor quality junk (just the good stuff). I read Anthony’s book this weekend and went from squealing with delight to getting annoyed. It just lost me at some point. Daphne should arrive tomorrow. That will take care of the first 4 siblings. So far, I am completely a Benedict fan.

    I read two Lisa Kleypas books this weekend as well (see “devouring” above) “The Devil in Winter” and “Tempt Me at Twilight”. I really enjoyed the latter.

    Loretta Chase is next if I decide to keep going.

  9. Gwen Deal on said:

    You might check out Georgette Heyer for excellent banter and romance.

  10. I’m afraid I require a little more, um, action than Ms. Heyer provides. Heck, I actually require more action than Ms. Quinn provides in her later novels.

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