Review: Four Weddings and a Sixpence

Review: Four Weddings and a SixpenceFour Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Stefanie Sloane, Laura Lee Guhrke
Published by Avon on December 27th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe.”

This is an anthology of four stories about four friends from Madame Rochambeaux’s Gentle School for Girls and the sixpence coin which brings each of them a husband.

SOMETHING OLD by Julia Quinn:  This is the prologue to the stories and introduces the four heroines: Miss Beatrice Heywood, Miss Cordelia Padley, Lady Elinor Daventry and Miss Anne Barbourne.  The four find a old coin which they agree to use to find their husband and if it works, they will pass it along to the next girl.  For a prologue, this one managed to pack a lot of information into a few pages.  It definitely made me want to know more about these girls.  Rating: 5 stars.

SOMETHING NEW by Stefanie Sloane: Miss Anne Brabourne has an uncle as a guardian who has declared that she must marry by her twenty-first birthday. Anne, however, doesn’t really want to marry but if she does she certainly doesn’t want to marry for love.  Her parents tempestuous relationship has soured her on the idea of passion and love. Rhys Alexander Hamilton, Duke of Dorset is a man determined not to marry until he has no choice meets Anne and is charmed by her.  He doesn’t fit Anne’s ideal husband (he will never be easily controlled) but he proposes that he help her find a husband.

This was a sweet little story. I liked the characters and I liked their situation. Both Anne and Rhys have reasons to not recognize that they are falling in love and yet their connection pulls them together throughout the story.  I found this story charming.  The only thing that didn’t fit was the obligatory sex scene which I thought did not actually fit with these characters.  Rating: 4 stars.

SOMETHING BORROWED by Elizabeth Boyle:  Miss Cordelia Padley grew up rich but at her father’s death she learned that he was squandered his entire fortune. She has another, more pressing problem. She has three aunts who are determined to find her a husband, so Cordelia has made up a betrothed to stop their efforts.  Now that one of her dearest friends is marrying, Cordelia has to produce that betrothed or admit her deception.  She goes looking for a temporary fiance to produce and then have him jilt her.  Winston Christopher Talcott, Earl of Thornton needs rich bride to save his failing estate.  Just when he is about to get engaged to an heiress, Cordelia comes back into Kipp’s life and turns it upside down.

This was a wonderful story.  I loved the connection between Cordelia and Kipp. They had a sweet and childhood friends to lovers story. This was a story that was so good that I could have read a whole book about these two.  Cordelia finds her old friend and is dismayed that he never had the chance to fulfill his dreams. Kipp finds a vivacious woman who makes him believe in his dreams again even has his goals have changed. I loved the hope and joy these two bring to one another.  Yes, the resolution was predicable (I figured it out from the beginning), but the story was so good that I was willing to go along with the predicable solution.  Everything worked for me.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

SOMETHING BLUE by Laura Lee Guhrke: Lady Elinor Daventry is determined to marry the son of a duke to help save her father from the investigation by Lawrence Blackthorne who is determined to prove her father is a criminal.  Ellie and Lawrence were childhood friends who were in love and set to marry until he chose his duty and honor over their love and she chose her father over their love.  Lawrence steals the sixpence in order to prevent Ellie’s marriage.

This was an enjoyable story because Ellie and Lawrence are such combative towards one another. The two have deep unresolved feelings even though they are on opposing sides regarding Ellie’s father. There is some serious push and pull between them as they clearly love one another and yet neither can abandon their principles. The interactions between the two were funny and yet sad as it seems at times that these two will not be able to find a way to be together.  I like my books with some angst and drama and this one fulfills those requirements.  Rating: 4 stars.

…AND A SIXPENCE IN HER SHOE by Julia Quinn:  Miss Beatrice Mary Heywood plans never to marry but rather to care for her aunts who took her in when she was orphaned. She takes the coin only reluctantly, but she has the coin when she literally runs into Lord Frederick Grey-Osbourne on the street.  Frederick is sensitive to his looks because of an accident which left him with a scar and blinded in one eye, but he finds himself intrigued by the academic minded Bea who has a passion for astronomy.

Bea and Frederick are so cute together. This is another story that I could have read an entire book about. There is an awkwardness and a pure sweetness of these two being interested in one another. There are meddling aunts, sexy scientific talk, deep empathy and even some sexy moments.  There is a wonderful scene between them (I don’t want to give it away) but it is all about trust and vulnerability between them.  I loved that scene.  This was my favorite story in the anthology and it struck the perfect ending note for me.  Rating: 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton

Review: Because of Miss BridgertonBecause of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #1) by Julia Quinn
Published by Avon on March 29th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 375
Goodreads
four-stars

Bridgerton Prequel Spinoff That Satisfies High Expectations

FINAL DECISION: A worth successor (although a prequel) to the fabulous Bridgerton series, BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON is good with the feel of the Bridgerton novel with a whole batch of new characters, a different time period, and a different set of troubles.

THE STORY: Billie Bridgerton is what might be termed a tomboy. The eldest child, she loves the family estate and helps to run it, although she is denied the opportunity to inherit because she is a girl. She knows she will eventually marry and everyone (including her) expects that she will marry one of the Rokesby brothers, lifelong neighbors. There are so many choices between the brothers, but the one brother Billie never plans on hitching herself to is George, the heir of the earldom and the one that Billie can’t help but bicker and argue with. The two can’t stand one another and yet when they are thrust together unexpectedly, they find that the sparks they strike off one another might hide a passion for one another.

OPINION: I am a big fan of Quinn’s Bridgerton series. As a result, I worried that this book would be a disappointment because so many of those Bridgerton books are classics. For me, BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON doesn’t meet the best books of the Bridgerton series, but it would fall smack in the middle of the series. It is sold and satisfying and at times hilarious.

BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON has the wit and humor and genuinely nice characters for which Quinn is famous. I am a big fan of the “adversaries” to lovers trope. This one has hysterical situations between Billie and George. The two have known one another forever and yet never looked at one another in a romantic fashion before. Quinn is well known as having couples who fall in love slowly and unexpectedly. This story realistically portrays two people who grew up together but for the first time see one another as a romantic partner. I loved that they have so much in common and have a deep respect for one another which comes from their familiarity with one another. The romance in this one takes some time to develop but ultimately is sweet and fulfilling.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME’s infamous Pall Mall game will find another fabulous — and yet different — game here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON is the first book of the Rokesby series which is a prequel spin-off series to Quinn’s immensely popular Bridgerton series. This book can totally be read as a standalone even though there are lots of Easter eggs for fans of the Bridgerton series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Where’s My Hero?

Where's My Hero?
Where’s My Hero? by Lisa Kleypas, Kinley MacGregor, Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three Novellas That Are Part of Larger Series

Each of the three novellas here are part of a larger series. Although each novella can be read as a standalone, they are better if the reader is aware of the characters who are part of the series.

Each of the novellas has characters who are engaged to the wrong person when the right one comes along.

AGAINST THE ODDS by Lisa Kleypas — This novella is part of the Gamblers series as the heroine is the daughter of Derek and Sara from DREAMING OF YOU. Miss Lydia Craven is engaged to be married to Lord Wray. On the night of her engagement announcement, she is kissed by Dr. Jake Linley, her nemesis with whom she had bickered and fought for four years. Lydia believes her fiance is perfect for her because they have similar intellectual pursuits even if there isn’t any passion. Almost on the eve of her marriage, Lydia and Jake end up locked in a cellar together and she finds out that passion might be the most important thing after all. This is a cute little story which is obvious and doesn’t have much twist to it. The best part is seeing Derek and Sara again. For that I would read this story again and again. The romance of Lydia and Jake is okay, but Sara and Derek are amazing even in cameo. Rating: 4 stars.

MIDSUMMER’S KNIGHT by Kinley MacGregor — Simon of Ravenswood, aka “The Wraith” is a landless knight who is part of the Brotherhood. He is in love with Kenna, the cousin of the King of Scotland. He has been writing to her BUT she thinks that it is Simon’s friend, an Earl, who has been writing to her. Now she believes herself engaged to the Earl, but he doesn’t know anything about it. This novella is part of the Brotherhood/MacAllister series. I haven’t read the other books in this series, but I really enjoyed this story. I thought the dilemma the characters found themselves in was intriguing and I was very interested in how things would work out. Now I want to read more of the series. Rating: 4 stars.

A TALE OF TWO SISTERS by Julia Quinn — This novella is an add on to the Splendid/Blydon Trilogy. Edward “Ned” Blydon, Viscount Burwick, is engaged to Lydia Thornton. Having given up on finding love, Ned has become engaged to Lydia for comfort and a piece of property adjoining his estate. A week before the wedding, he begins to know her sister Charlotte and realizes that perhaps he gave up on love too soon. This was a nice coda to the Blydon series which resolves Ned’s story. The story is light and funny and heartfelt. Quickly readers are clued in to the solution to Ned’s dilemma, but he doesn’t know. I enjoyed this one as a conclusion to the trilogy. Rating: 4 stars.

Review: Dancing at Midnight

Dancing at Midnight
Dancing at Midnight by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Adequate Romance That Doesn’t Live Up to Quinn’s Later Books

“She’d never been one to back down from a challenge.”

FINAL DECISION: This is a perfectly adequate book but lacks the depth, clever humor and complexity of Quinn’s later works. If I had read this book first, I think I would have liked it better.

THE STORY: Lady Arabella Blydon had had two seasons and has rejected numerous proposals then she meets the neighbor of her closest friends. John Blackwood, a newly minted Baron returned from war with a limp, and shadows and regrets which haunt him and make him unworthy of a woman like Belle. At the same time, he has a hidden enemy that threatens his life. Even when John rejects Belle for her own good, he cannot forget the bluestocking who has stolen his heart.

OPINION: This is a typical and pleasant Regency historical romance. There is a bit of darkness (the hero is haunted by his war past), some humor, some mystery and suspense (who is trying to kill the hero) along with your expected romance. For me, the most successful part of this book is the humor. Unfortunately, the remainder of the story is fine but I never felt there was any real darkness or real danger. The book lacked the urgency and depth to suggest that there was anything really endangering the hero and heroine.

This book is pleasant and I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t help but compare the book to Quinn’s more recent novels. Unfortunately, this book suffers in the comparison. The characters are flatter and less complex, the story is pretty straightforward without any real danger involved. As a result, the book is one that is enjoyable and a nice read but not one I would come back to.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some significant appearances by the characters of the series which will please those who read SPLENDID.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DANCING AT MIDNIGHT is the second book in the Splendid or Blydon Trilogy. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

Review: Splendid

Splendid
Splendid by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An Early Book By Quinn is Good But Not Up to Her Later Standard

FINAL DECISION: A book that feels more formulaic than a normal Julia Quinn novel, SPLENDID has some madcap moments but after a while the number of dramas that had to be negotiated wore on the story.

THE STORY: Emma Dunster is an American heiress who intends on enjoying her season in London with no plans for marriage because she wants to return to America, marry and run her father’s business. Masquerading as a kitchen maid, she goes out on an errand and ends up saving the nephew of Alexander Ridgely, Duke of Ashbourne, a notorious rake. Furious when he finds out her deception, Emma and Alexander begin a dance where neither wants marriage but yet they cannot stay away from one another.

OPINION: This book begins well. The twist of having Alexander believe that Emma is a kitchen maid and then discovering that she is actually an heiress is funny and brings the characters immediately together in an intimate fashion. Emma shows herself to be independent and determined as she wants to use her business sense. Alexander is a bit of a jerk about the whole thing. The two cannot seem to stop being attracted to one another despite each believing that they want something else.

This book just has too many dramatic moments and twists and turns to drive the story forward instead of fostering connection between the characters. For me that means that while I like the book, I found it somewhat forgettable. It’s one of those books that I read, enjoyed but won’t think to pick up again.

The good news is that Quinn has gone on to write some amazing books.

WORTH MENTIONING: This was Julia Quinn’s first book and at times it shows.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SPLENDID is the first book in the Splendid or Blydon Trilogy.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.