Friday, 28 December 2018
#CBR10 Book 108: "The Other Miss Bridgerton" by Julia Quinn
Rating: 3 stars
Miss Poppy Bridgerton is visiting a cousin at the coast when she stumbles upon a strange cave, which happens to be full of smugglers' goods. When she's shortly after discovered by two of the smugglers, she finds herself drugged and abducted onto a ship, where the very handsome captain tells her that she can't be released until after the ship has been to Portugal and back. Poppy is none too happy about this, obviously, but doesn't really have a choice. She just has to hope that her reputation isn't completely in tatters by the time she returns.
While he has to present himself to Poppy Bridgerton as a privateer, Andrew Rokesby used to have a career in the navy, and now secretly works for the British Government, ferrying secret messages to exotic locations. Not even his own family knows what he really does, and while he's not happy about the idea, he can't have the stubborn Miss Bridgerton revealing to anyone what she has found in the cave, so whether he wants to or not, she has to be his unwilling passenger to Portugal and back. He only hopes he can complete his mission swiftly and return her to England before anyone realises she's been gone - or he'll most likely have to marry the infuriating woman.
This is the third book in Julia Quinn's prequel series to her extremely popular and successful Bridgerton novels. With each book, I keep hoping that she'll return to the magical storytelling of her earlier books, and with each successive book, I keep being let down. This book is fine. Poppy Bridgerton is independent, headstrong, much more intelligent than is seen as entirely attractive in a woman in the Georgian era, and mourns a dead brother. Andrew Rokesby is the younger of several sons and wants to serve his country, but chafes at the fact that he has to keep the truth hidden from his family in order to do so. Oh, and at some point in the story, Quinn decides that he clearly wants to be an architect instead, so she throws in this scene where he nerds out about building techniques and the special ways to construct some house in Portugal, just so Poppy (and we, the readers) can see how wrong it is for him to even be a sea captain, let alone a clandestine diplomat.
Set aside the hugely problematic "meet cute" of this novel - that the heroine is literally drugged and abducted by the hero's crew members, and then she's held prisoner in his cabin for over a week, and there is some good banter and flirting here. But in every interaction, it was difficult for me to remember that Poppy was not on this exciting ocean adventure by choice, she was abducted. Doesn't really matter how handsome the hero is, or how infuriating he finds the situation, he still went along with kidnapping a young woman away from her family.
There's also the fact that apart from the initial abduction, very little happens. Poppy complains about having to be cooped up in the captain's cabin. They flirt. She befriends the boy who brings her food. She and the captain flirt some more. He keeps saying he needs to keep her confined - then takes her up on deck to show her the stars. He needs to keep her on the ship when they get to Portugal, but goes against his better judgement and takes her on a tour of the city. Then they BOTH get abducted, by villains wanting ransom money.
As I said, some of the dialogue and banter is rather cute, if I could have forgotten that our dashing captain was also a kidnapper! His worry that he might end up married to our heroine was difficult to sympathise with, since he was the one who was responsible for completely crushing her reputation, by whisking her on a several week long journey on a ship without a chaperone. He's lucky he fell in love with her, as he would have been honour bound to marry her no matter what.
I should probably just give up on these books, and wait until online reviewers tell me Quinn is back to her old sparkling self again. But I love her earlier novels so much, and keep hoping that her books will be really great again. This book is merely ok, which is sad, as it's the last book I'm likely to read this year, and it's only the second book I managed to finish in all of December. (I may be broken, you guys). I would have liked to end the year on a more satisfying note. Alas, it was not to be.
Judging a book by its cover: There's really not much to say about this cover. There's a cute young woman, in a pretty dress. There's a ship in the background. Happily, the woman's dress is not unlaced most of the way down the back, showing her mysterious and anachronistic lack of undergarments, nor is she showing off most of her legs by lying draped awkwardly over furniture in some way. So I guess I should be thankful for small mercies.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.