January Reads: Historical Romance

The last time I’ve written book reviews was back in primary school as it was part of the assignment given to us by our homeroom teacher. I used to read a lot, I still do now but I don’t read as often as I would. Lately, I’ve started reading again and it made me recall my love for it. How I miss it as I enter a different world with each book I picked up although this statement would seemed redundant because the novels mentioned here are all from the same author. Thus, it’s the same world I’ll be in and it’s in the Regency period in England.

The first book that got me into historical romance was ‘Brighter than The Sun’ by Julia Quinn. I came across it when I was in high school and I’ve been stuck with her work ever since. Here, I’ll be discussing 4 of her books accordingly.

(Warning: Heavy spoilers ahead, you have been warned!)

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1.How to Marry a Marquis

When I wanted to get back into my Julia-Quinn-books-marathon, this was my first read and out of the 4, I enjoyed reading this story the most. Particularly because I found myself being able to sort of, relate to the main heroine, Elizabeth Hotchkiss. She was the eldest of her 3 siblings and with her parents gone, she had to shoulder parental responsibilities and look after the younger ones. Ah, the struggles of being the eldest!

Regarding the ‘plot twist’ nearing the end, it wasn’t entirely a surprise to me as when I was halfway through the book, you could pretty much guess that Lady Danbury was behind the scenes pulling the strings. I mean, with her fierce reputation in other books such as the Bridgertons series and the Smythe-Smith Quartet, there’s no way she’d got herself pregnant out of wedlock let alone having someone blackmailed her about it. And, it’s pretty obvious Elizabeth and James Sidwell are a match made in heaven in need of an ‘orchestrated encounter‘ considering their background story.

One thing I didn’t like was Lizzie’s stubbornness because more than often, it can lead to disastrous results and misunderstandings. Sometimes, even in the midst of anger, you need to let the other person finish their sentence before jumping onto any conclusion. But then again, this is a fiction drama and if the heroine were to be that level-headed, then there wouldn’t be an interesting spectacle, would it?

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2. Minx

Now, this is certainly an amusing pair. On one hand, you have William Dunford, the dashing and to quote James, ‘a pleasant rake‘; on the other, you have Henrietta Barrett who’s basically a tomboy and likes to go by the name of ‘Henry’ which actually suited her much better than ‘Hen-riettaaaa’.

Apparently, Dunford also played a role in two other books, namely ‘Splendid’ and ‘Dancing at Midnight’ besides his brief appearance in ‘How to Marry a Marquis’. Strangely enough, I can’t seem to find the former on my bookshelf (It’s book shopping timeeee!) and I’ve not read the latter, yet.

I relished the idea of Dunford transforming Henry from a country bumpkin into a beautiful social butterfly who’s ready for a season in London which really, it’s a recipe for romance between the two. I laughed at their interaction and their internal monologues especially when Henry managed to get Dunford, this handsome gentleman, shoveling slops to the pigs at the farm. It kept me turning the pages!

The only thing I couldn’t quite agree with was how Dunford kept calling Henry by the nickname, ‘Minx’. This is more of a personal preference and I know the point of it is to draw reference to the title of the book but I’d much prefer ‘Henry’ instead.

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3. The Lost Duke of Wyndham

I couldn’t decide which to start with when I ventured into ‘The Two Dukes of Wyndham series’ as the two tales were told side by side, each from its own duke’s point of view. After some googling, I settled for this first before I move on to ‘Mr Cavendish, I Presume’ as I thought this is the best way to get to know the entire story.

I can’t say I enjoyed reading this as much as I did with the rest, the storyline was kinda mediocre. Essentially, the romance between Jack  Audley and Grace Eversleigh was nothing more than random in my opinion. A random encounter between the two leading up to a random infatuation and courtship just seemed unrealistic to me. Still, I like Jack’s character a lot, this easy-going bloke with a silver-tongue who hides his true self underneath a facade of a jester.

More than the amour, I was more interested in the family drama as the mystery of ‘who-is-the-real-duke’ unfolds. Might I add that throughout the whole book, I wanted something nasty to happen to the dowager Duchess, Augusta. A consequence to her being an unpleasant pain-in-the-arse to everyone. Ugh!

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4. Mr Cavendish, I Presume

Surprisingly, I favour this over ‘The Lost Duke of Wyndham’ although Amelia Willoughby’s character could use some improvement. I was proud of her when she ’embarrassed’ her fiancée, Thomas Cavendish by declining his polite offer for a dance because that’s his duty, you know, to his betrothed. It was almost gratifying to watch a guy who thinks he’s always in charge of everything to be put to his place by someone as unexpected as his ‘soon-to-be trophy-wife‘. That was till sweet Amelia, lost her cool in the garden like some dewey-eyed mooncalf when Thomas worked his magic on her. *facepalm*

Comparing Jack and Thomas’s story, you’d think two people in an arranged marriage couldn’t possibly be each other’s true love or soulmates. Au contraire, their chemistry was more believable than whatever went on between Jack and Grace. This has more to do with the time spent between the two characters. Jack only came to know Grace when he decided to rob his long lost grandmother’s coach on one random night. Thomas already has Amelia instilled in his life when he was just in his diapers (assuming diapers were available during the Regency era I’m kidding, it’s invented in 1940s. Yes, I googled that shit).

Originally, I’d thought the dukedom should be inherited by Thomas instead of Jack. One bred to do the job while the other born into it. But, as I came to a close, it became apparent that the ending suited the characters just fine. It was a wee bit cliché for the King to grant the earldom to Thomas who was title-free after the whole fiasco, but I just can’t help but love happy endings. After all, doesn’t everybody love a ‘happily-ever-after’?

(A/N: I like the UK covers for Julia Quinn’s books much better ❤ )

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