Two weeks ago Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I hit the the USA Today bestseller list…13 years after it’s release. To celebrate the occasion I’m reviewing my favorite book in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me.
Published twelve years ago, The Viscount Who Loved Me is a bit of an oldie, but definitely a goodie. It’s the second in Ms. Quinn’s Bridgerton series (the first is The Duke and I), featuring Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest of eight siblings and the title viscount. His
partner in romance is Kate Sheffield, the older of two daughters in a family not exactly overburdened by wealth. To save money, both sisters make their debut at the same time, and twenty-one-year-old Kate is constantly compared to the golden, petite beauty that is her sister. In a lot of other authors’ hands, this would have caused friction to one degree or another between the siblings, but Ms. Quinn elected to let that plot device pass on by, and the two have a genuine affection for each other.
The conflict occurs, of course, between Kate and Anthony, but also not in the usual way. Anthony decides it’s time to marry and produce an heir, but wants nothing to do with a woman he might fall in love with (for a good reason that I won’t spoil). He settles on the season’s Incomparable, Kate’s sister, and sets out to court her. Kate, however, knows of Anthony’s reputation as a rake of the first order, and does everything she can to keep him away.
Aside from the clear love the sisters have for each other, the basic plot isn’t really different from what you’d find in a lot of other Regency romances, though there are a few notable differences in the details. The sentence structure is even a tad choppy on occasion, which is one of my pet peeves, and I actually spent part of the book thinking “I would have written it this way…” (then again, I just do that sometimes). But I keep coming back to read this one over and over.
Well, for one, I like heroines that are witty and have a spine, but aren’t the Super Heroines that can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Kate fits the bill nicely: sympathetic, smart, not terribly lady-like but not one of those she-can-get-away-with-anything types (who can do that in real life?). She can handle the social scene, for the most part, but isn’t a pro, and actually says what she means. No dancing around issues for Kate.
The other thing that hooked me on this story was Anthony. The Reformed Rake (or a version of him) seems to show up everywhere, and follows a lot of the same developmental markers wherever his story is told. But Anthony has a little grief in his past (not a woman who has made him swear off love, either—I’m starting to get a bit tired of those, as well), and a code of honor when he conducts his affairs. He’s also a responsible head of the family, and clearly loves them to distraction, yet he’s a little lonely, too. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve always been a sucker for the tortured-soul types, and Anthony is one of my favorites.
Bottom line: while this story isn’t new and different, it definitely isn’t mediocre, either, and has enough twists on old themes to feel comfortable but not worn. Worth a read…or twelve.
And, of course, there’s a tall, chestnut-haired viscount to keep you company.