* Prices may differ from that shown
I picked this Julia Quinn book at the library this week when I fancied reading something light hearted and easy to read on my night shift. The Julia Quinn's novels I had read so far had all been great light hearted historical romances so I was hoping for something similar in this book and I wasn't let down.
About the author
Julia Quinn is the pseudonym used by Julie Pottinger (born Julie Cotler in 1970) an American historical romance author, who says she chose her pseudonym so her Regency romances would be on bookshelves next to those of the successful romance writer Amanda Quick.
If you want to read further details about Julia Quinn she has a website with a section about herself at www.juliaquinn.com
About the book
This book was Julia Quinn's first novel that was published and by her own admission in the front of the book it is not quite as polished as some of her later work.
The historical period for this novel as with all of Julia Quinn's novels is that of Regency England.
The story is of Emma Dunstar from Boston who is sent to stay with her English cousins and Aunt in London to "do the season". Her father is a rich shipping magnate and Emma is his only child. She would like to run the company but this is not possible for her to do at this point in history so her father sends her to England in the hope of her having fun and finding a husband. The love interest in this book is Alex Ridgely the Duke of Ashbourne he is portrayed as having a very jaundice view of woman and marriage and seems women as only being after his title and money. They meet when Emma is disguised as a maid and saves the life of Alex's nephew from being run over by a carriage. Alex initially is not aware she is not a maid until he comes to Emma's debutant ball and meets her again. From this point on the romancing and friendships start with Emma getting into various scrapes with her cousins Belle and Ned
I think Julia Quinn was right to put in the authors notes at the beginning of the book that this isn't as polished as her other books. The reason for this is though there are parts of the book that are very amusing it isn't quite as sharp and laugh out loud funny as some of her other novels that I have read I am think mainly the Bridgerton series which is very entertaining. Equally with this book there certainly are a lot more modern phraseology than in her other novels for example the use of "corny" "Are you poking fun at me" "You must be kidding!" This makes the novel less convincing in terms of the Regency period and I think the fact that they are within this novel and not others shows her development as a writer.
Though this novel is set in Regency England there really isn't much in the way of history in the book, the emphasis is definitely on romance not history. The Regency period makes a great backdrop for the coming and goings of the characters. The formality and rules of the time are written well and how high society views the different sections of society are touched upon but not explored or elaborated on. For example Viscount Benton dislike of Emma is based solely on the fact that she is "a little nothing from the Colonies". This view of people only hardens you as the reader to the Viscount the villain of the story which is agreeably written.
The pace of this novel is certainly a bit slower than some of her others and this isn't necessarily a bad thing as you certainly get to know the characters well. But it does seem at times that the author is trying to fit too much into one novel. The escapades with Belle and Ned especially though adding amusement to the novel could have been shortened in my opinion and the romance and love story between Emma and Alex wouldn't have suffered in any way.
Emma is a wonderful toy boy and a thoroughly modern woman and wants to do thing that we take for granted today such as run the family business. Whilst this helps you as the reader identify with the character I am left wondering how likely this character was to actually exist in Regency England.
Alex is a typical romantic hero with enough flaws to make him interesting and as a woman you want to fix these and hope that the love of a good woman Emma will help him overcome his cynicism of women as only after him for his money and title. Emma of course doesn't need his money and this in part enables him to take risks and fall in love with her.
A frothy and light hearted romantic read set in the regency period in England. The emphasis is definitely on romance and not history. The novel is the debut novel by Julia Quinn and is full of bounce and enthusiasm but it lacks some of the polish and laugh out loud humour of some of her later novels. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical romance and chick lit.
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Piatkus Books (3 Jul 2008)
Currently available from Amazon for £5.49 or of Amazon Market place used for £2.16