Friday, October 9, 2009
Rumors and Gossip... The lifeblood of London
When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancé, 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... 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...
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I was a tad underwhelmed by this romance by Julia Quinn, her latest offering to the book world, since I had just finished up her incomparable Bridgerton Series which left me on a real romance high. Hence, a short review.
Still, it was pretty amusing and it had it's moments but it just didn't seem to have that je ne said quoi that her other books have. This is a sequel to The Secret Diary of Miss Miranda Cheever, which I really enjoyed. This one centers on Lady Olivia Bevelstoke, the best friend of Miranda who is a raving beauty but finds herself spying on her next door neighbor, Sir Harry Valentine (I don't know why I kept wanting to say his last name was Winston!) Olivia is under the misapprehension that he must be up to something no good and then when she realizes he knows she's spying on him, she stops her little game and the two of them have a face off in which they both admit they don't like one another - but of course, that doesn't last, and they wind up falling for each other instead!
Sir Harry is a translator. With a Russian grandmother, he speaks Russian fluently, all the more reason why the War Office hires him to translate top secret missives and do a little covert work himself, when needed. He is ordered to spy on a visiting Russian Prince who has decided to court Lady Olivia. I must say the stiff and proper Prince was one of the funniest part of the book. One especially hilarious scene involved the reading and acting out of an especially silly gothic romance that has everyone (except Olivia who prefers reading the newspaper) enthralled. In addition, there are all kinds of mix ups: who speaks Russian, who is who, who's a spy, who's really a good guy and who's not? Lots of hi-jinx, but it didn't leave me thinking that I really loved this Julia Quinn book. I don't think it had enough of a romance in it for me. There were no sentimental moments that made me sigh inwardly, mostly it had a lighthearted farce feel about it, which is fine, but the hero and heroine seemed more friends than in love. Then once they realized they were in love and had their romantic tryst together (aka sex, which seemed very out of character for both of them) - she gets kidnapped! It all seemed a little rushed at the end, leaving me wanting more. The proposal scene was, IMHO, a bit ridiculous and a let down - I felt like I was at a party having a good time, and then all of a sudden, the party's over and we're all being sent home early!
Despite this, it is a worthwhile read - it is Julia Quinn after all - but not one of her best. Still, I am eager to read the rest of her backlist, since she is one of my very favorite romance authors.