Friday 4 June 2010

CBR2 Book 54: "Ten Things I Love About You" by Julia Quinn

Publisher: Piatkus Books
Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Date begun: May 26th, 2010
Date finished: May 26th, 2010


The Earl of Newbury needs to father an heir as soon as possible, or the nephew he hates, Mr Sebastian Grey, will inherit the title and accompanying fortune. He needs a fertile woman of good family, and Miss Annabel Winslow, eldest of eight children, is rumoured to be so fertile the birds sing when she's near. While her aunt was fortunate enough to marry a Duke, Annabel's mother did not make as favourable a match, and the Winslows face poverty if she does not find a wealthy husband. Her wealthy grandmother has offered to sponsor her for a season, and now her most ardent suitor appears to be the Earl of Newbury. While Newbury may have been considered a great catch in her grandmother's day, Annabel is not very enthusiastic about the idea of marrying him.

Mr Sebastian Grey is not actually that bothered about inheriting his uncle's title (although the money would be nice). As he is in a state of limbo with regards to his social status, he is invited everywhere - after all, he may be a wealthy Earl one day. Of course, if his uncle does remarry and produce an heir, he is an ex-army officer of indeterminate income - not as eligible a catch for the young ladies. That he has a rather substantial source of income is something he'd rather not reveal, as his deep, dark secret is that he is the writer of a series of wildly popular Gothic novels under a female pseudonym.

Due to a series of unfortunate coincidences, Sebastian and his uncle are suddenly rivals for the hand of Miss Annabel. The more time Sebastian spends in Annabel's company, the more taken by her he becomes. And with every moment spent in Sebastian's company, the prospect of marrying Lord Newbury, even to save her family from poverty, becomes less and less desirable to Annabel. Should she follow her heart and doom her family, or marry sensibly, and be miserable for the rest of the Earl of Newbury's life (as her grandmother points out, he will almost certainly die before Annabel does)?

Ten Things I Love About You is a much more enjoyable read than The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, and much more like Julia Quinn's other novels. It features a lovely heroine and a very likable hero, and the reveal that Sebastian was the author of the lurid Gothic romances that played a central part in What Happens in London filled me with delight. The central couple in What Happens in London, Sir Harry and Lady Olivia also feature in this novel, and it also seems to set up Sir Harry's younger brother, as well as Annabel's cousin Louisa for romances of their own in the future.

The only thing that didn't really work for me in the book, was the "villain", so to speak. There is no good reason for Lord Newbury's hatred of Sebastian, we are given no explanation except spite as why he is so loath to have Sebastian inherit. He is very one-dimensional and feels out of place in what is otherwise a very fun and fluffy read.

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