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What Happens in London (Bevelstoke, Bk 2)
What Happens in London - Bevelstoke, Bk 2 Author:Julia Quinn RUMORS AND GOSSIP... THE LIFEBLOOD OF LONDON — When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancée, she doesn't believe it for a second, but, still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure? So she stakes out a spot near her bedroom window, cleverly concealed by curtains, watches, and waits... ... more »and discovers a most intriguing man, who is definitely up to something.
Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious. But just when he decides that she's nothing more than an annoyingly nosy debutante, he discovers that she might be engaged to a foreign prince, who might be plotting against England. And when Harry is roped into spying on Olivia, he discovers that he might be falling for her himself....« less
So I finally read Julia Quinn's new book ... and I am happy to say that I think she's headed back in the right direction (though hasn't arrived at the destination yet). I *loved* almost all of her Bridgerton books and the books she has written since then have not even begun to compare in caliber - The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever got off to a great start and then PLUNGED downhill. I didn't read either of the Dukes of Wyndham books, mostly because the reviews were so horrible, but it actually wasn't for lack of trying: I started Mr. Cavendish, I Presume (the second one) and just couldn't even bother to finish it, so I of course left The Lost Duke of Wyndham (the first book) alone.
With her new book, What Happens in London, I was happy to see Quinn return to her snappy dialogue and funny, light characters. I was reminded of why I have (usually) so admired her books: Harry and Olivia are very enjoyable and their exchanges are highly entertaining - and cause you to laugh out loud at times - and it's so refreshing to have a hero and heroine who don't just lust after each other, but whom you feel actually have an emotional and intellectual connection, and have really gotten to know each other by the end of the book.
Why the 3.5 stars then? ... It's actually hard to say. I was measuring it against recent books I've read that I've really loved and have given 4 or 5 stars, and I realized that WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON, while completely enjoyable, was nothing groundbreaking and the whole thing felt a little brief once I'd finished. Everything kind of happened so quickly and although I did feel that Harry and Olivia got to know one another and didn't have the dreaded/hated lust-at-first-sight experience, it was all kind of fluffy and not fully satisfying - like a really tasty appetizer, but when I was expecting steak, delicious mashed potatoes, and a scrumptious desert instead. Make sense?
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The random kidnapping about 2 pages before the end was completely unnecessary. It seemed to be thrown in last minute for good measure, as if to make sure there was enough action - which has never really a big component (or one at all) in Quinn's novels, but that hasn't seemed to bother us in the past, so why try to fix something that's not broken? I suppose there is a mystery subplot throughout the book, since that is what prompts Harry to watch the prince and Olivia, but it is so minimal one almost forgets that that is the catalyst of everything. Then, Harry and Olivia are at the Ambassador's party, they sneak off, declare their love for each other, confirm they're going to get married, have sex - and wham! Olivia is abducted. ... Uh, what? I also disliked the proposal scene at the end, it was weird and corny and just ... odd.
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NOTE (connection to other Quinn books)
What Happens in London is not part of a series, but it is connected to Quinn's The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, whose hero is this book's heroine's brother. At the end of this book we're given a teaser and told that Mr. Sebastian Grey, possible heir to an Earldom and Harry's cousin (and a great character), will be the hero of Quinn's next book, due out summer 2010.
P.S. What is up with these video trailers for books? Does anyone else find them ridiculous?!
This was a really sweet romance without the extreme ups and downs in feeling that Olivia's friend, Miranda went through (The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever). At first the hero and heroine don't really like each other, Harry is annoyed at her spying and she's annoyed at being caught, but they soon realize that they get alone pretty well and a friendship develops. When the they realize they love each other, it's very romantic and happy rather than a tortured thing (and I didn't feel sickened by the sweetness so for me the process felt just right). I quite enjoyed that both accepted it, and Harry in particular was very straightforward in thought and in deed once he'd made that decision.
Overall: A book with a great beta hero, excellent dialogue, some laugh out loud moments, and sweet romance. A keeper. It picked my spirits up after a bad day.
Sharon B. reviewed What Happens in London (Bevelstoke, Bk 2) on
Helpful Score: 5
Fun dialog with typical JQ humor [and the 'window' conversations were a hoot until the overkill at the end], but this one did not grab me and say 'keeper' as did many of her previous novels. More of an "ok, that was cute" rather than a "must read it again." Still, it's JQ, so better than most in the genre.
I enjoyed this book. It was a light and quick read. Perfect to take if you are travelling. It was enjoyable, amusing and funny. I am glad to see Julia Quinn is getting back on track. I think it has been said before but her last few books haven't been up to what long term fans have come to expect. I am looking forward to Sebastian's story and hope that it will be up to Quinn's earlier books.
I'm pretty picky about the historical romances I read. They have to be well written, and they'd better get me hooked within the first few pages or I'm out. This one certainly did that. It was totally enjoyable from the very beginning -- humorous, smart and entertaining -- and I finished it within a couple of days. I can always count on Julia Quinn for a great read. Highly recommend if you're in to historical romance.