Friday, July 30, 2010

Ten Things I Love About You

Ten Things You Should Know About This Book
1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.
2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.
3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.
4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.
5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.
6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.
7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to
10. Happily. Ever. After.

Ten thoughts about this book...

1.  This story is Julia Quinn's third offering in an un-named series beginning with The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, followed by What Happens in London, followed by Ten Things I Love About You.  All three books are not the caliber of her earlier works but are pleasant reads, full of witty dialogue and Ms. Quinn's trademark humor.  If you choose to read them, I recommend reading them in order for maximum enjoyment.  (You learn quite a lot about Sebastian in What Happens In London which is Olivia and Harry's story, who in turn are big supporting characters in this book.) 

2.  Ten Things I Love About You is really Sebastian Grey's story of meeting Annabel Winslow, a country girl brought to London by her grandmother to catch a rich husband and save her destitute family.  Capturing the unwanted attention of a dirty, old earl, claiming Annabel's wide hips and shapely figure will suit nicely for begetting an heir, Annabel's grandmother is of little help when she approves the impending match, reminding Annabel how rich and titled he is (and how soon he will die of old age).  Sebastian, on the other hand, is the earl's heir who will never see the title if the earl has his way.  But that's ok... Sebastian doesn't want the title, nor does he even need it.  After all he's no pauper, bringing in a tidy sum writing books under a nom de plume and leading the simple bachelor life.  But meeting Annabel sparks something and there is a definite mutual attraction.  

3.  Annabel is a sweet girl, oldest of eight and voted by her family to be the third most likely to outrun a turkey.  Oh, and she likes to make lists.  Her history was not full of "woe is me" which was really nice, but she has a lot of weight on her shoulders so she needs to make a choice... marry Lord Newbury, the mean, old, rich, titled earl or enjoy the company of the young, handsome heir presumptive who makes you giggle with his "smirky" smiles and quick wit.  While the choice is ultimately hers, her love for her family and their welfare played a big role in the dilemma and it was written quite well.  It never got to the "woe is me" point, nor did she shy away to hide in a corner.  Her choice was real, and she had a conscience but could she be true to herself with her ultimate decision?

4. Witty banter abounds between our Miss Winslow and Mr. Grey, creating delightful dialogue complete with Quinn trademark smirks and giggles. I loved her use of the word "smirky." I also loved the books Sebastian penned, a secret he kept well-hidden from everyone.  It added a nice dimension to the story.

5.  My big gripe #1 with the book was the drawing room scene at Olivia's home.  I don't know if hormones just suddenly kicked in or what, but out of nowhere, Sebastian started undressing Annabel!  WHAT??  It was just weird.  They were laughing and talking and then it turned into an abrupt intimate moment that ended almost as quickly as it started.  And the scene just kind of went downhill from there.  It all just felt very out of place and forced on the characters, which made me wonder if I was going to enjoy the second half of the book as much as I had the first.  Rest assured, once the drawing room scene was over, things did pick back up and I settled back into the story.  But this was definitely a speed bump for me.

6.  Big gripe #2 was the actual climax of the book.  I will not spoil the end, but it centers around the moment when Annabel and Sebastian learn that Annabel's grandmother was in fact once romanced by Lord Newbury.  Really, its not a spoiler - look at #6 from the book's back cover (above).  And I'm not even sure "romanced" may have been the right word.  But with that revelation paired with the situation... all I had to say was EEEIIIIWWWWWW!

7.  Nevertheless, Ms. Quinn created two very lovable, human characters in this story.  Sebastian's sense of humor, authenticity, and even self-doubt balanced beautifully with Annabel's family values, good nature and all around sweet personality.  Annabel's cousin Louisa was a sweet addition to the story, making one wonder if she might be next to get her own story since there seems to be a spark to her that we've merely just had a taste.

8.  Ms. Quinn's relentless use of parenthetical emphasis is most thankfully kept to a relative minimum in this book. It just took her a few books to learn when too much was way too much.

9.  Overall, I liked most of the book.  It was a pleasant read, yes, but my two big gripes really just did in any chance of me ever going back to re-read it.  Several familiar names from previous Quinn books popped up in the ballroom scenes, which always makes reading her books a bit more fun... you never know who you might run into!

10.  While certainly not one of Julia Quinn's best books, I would certainly say it isn't her worst.  That being said, I strongly recommend steering clear of the Two Dukes of Wyndham duo!  The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever was my favorite of the three in this series, but really, if you haven't read the Bridgerton series, I would say drop everything and pick up The Duke and I. The entire series is wonderful, and even Quinn's backlist before the Bridgerton's were all excellent and really a higher caliber than her last handful of books.  How to Marry a Marquis is my personal favorite from her list of titles. 

11.  I had to add a #11 to this list because it me?  Or does the chick on the cover just look weird?  I had to do a double-take with her... hmm... I guess her "smirky" smile?  But really it is just not very appealing for a book cover, nor does the cover do anything to enhance the story.  Just sayin. 

My rating:  5 - I liked most of the book

The series in order (so far?)...


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