Hi everyone! This is Julia of The Broke and the Bookish, formerly blogging on my own at The Competitive Bibliomaniac.
I read mostly historical romance, but can often be found reviewing paranormal romance, young adult books (mostly distopian/fantasy), fantasy/sci-fi, classics, and the occasional non-fiction book about languages.
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Just, damn it. What the hell happened to Julia Quinn books? I thought her Bridgerton series (especially the first half) was great, well written, intriguing, funny, had memorable if not all historically accurate characters and all of that balanced out the fluff pretty well.
Well with her last few books, the last three of which make up the Smythe-Smith Quartet so far, all of that beginning stuff is gone, leaving us poor fans with the fluff.
It's just so damn frustrating. I even went into this book not expecting to fall in love with the characters, or have a gush worthy plot, or a romance that just sizzles off the page, but I guess deep down I had hoped that she would prove me wrong. Alas it was not to be.
This is turning into more than a Just Finished Reaction post, so I might as well SCORE it into a full review.
So we start off at the house of the Earl from the first book getting ready for the wedding of the couple from the first book. Sarah is bereft that she has to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid and feels she will never find love. Enter Lord Hugh, the man she hates. She is put in charge of making sure he has a good time by her cousin and bride to be as it will show the rest of society that the Smythe-Smith family and Lord Hugh have overcome their differences because of the duel that sent the brother away... god even just typing that it reads so convoluted.
None of that really matters though as the main focus is Sarah entertaining Hugh. They read, they talk, they eat cake, they go from hatred to love of a sudden. Seriously that is like 300 pages of the book.
The ending is a train wreck, a train wreck you don't see coming either. Some sort of half cocked plot shows up and sends everything into an overdramatized and unneeded tizzy. And then the book just sort of ends. It's just... urgh.
This book focuses on one of the other unfortunate members of our quartet, Lady Sarah. And damn if she isn't annoying as all hell for the first hundred or so pages. Dramatic, annoying, self-centered. And the other characters in the book are helpful enough to point it out to you. And as soon as these are pointed out to her, she is hurt and then changes them overnight... or over a minute. Look, if you want to make a character that is a self centered dramatist, fine. But own it! Run with it. Play with it. Show some actual growth over a period of time without losing the essence of the character.
Then we have our hero, Lord Hugh. He was in a duel a while back with the hero of the last book and was left with a damaged leg, and worst of all a lack of self worth. And that's great ... erm... at least great in the fact that he is an interesting character to read about. He starts off taciturn and grumpy. And those traits unfortunately also suddenly disappear with Lady Sarah's traits.
The one thing that doesn't disappear, nor do I think it even really grows to a point where I can be satisfied, is Hugh's lack of self worth. I was about 320 pages in to this 375ish page book and he still was saying the "I am not worthy, because I am less then a man" bull shit all because of his leg. She assures him that she would chose him but I just dont beleive that HE believes it. Which just makes the whole character development thing absent for me.
This also was just lacking in the book. First off they hate each other, like pretty badly. Then all of a sudden *poof* her lips give me feelings. His eyes make me lose myself. Give me a fucking break. It just smacks of lazy writing.
Also, the sexytimes? Thrown in almost as an afterthought at the end. The tension? None to speak of. Bah.
I guess this is where I bump it from one star to to. Pretty much everything is ridiculous and makes no damn sense, but I read it in a day. I was enjoying myself in this brainless quest for entertainment. I knew if anything at least I would get some enjoyment, and that I did. The characters of Sarah's sisters were lovely and jumped off the page. They were the ones who made me laugh out loud and brought our tired leads to life. So I guess it has that going for it.
And technically it's a well written book. I wouldn't be surprised knowing that this is JQ, if some of the characters talk more modern then they should. But quite honestly that doesn't bother me over much most of the time. *shrug*
It's just so frustrating. I know what she can write. I have read it before. Complex characters with an arc that makes sense. This is just, disappointing. JQ is falling further and further down my auto-read list. I know it can be better, and I guess that is why I keep reading... just holding out hope that one of these books will soon bring back the magic. It's just not this one.