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Grace Eversleigh, companion to the dowager Duchess of Wyndham, was content with her life - not precisely satisfied, but she knew things could have been worse - right until the moment she and the duchess are held up by highwaymen.
Then things get complicated.
A kidnap, plenty of insults and numerous arguments disrupt everything, but that's not half as distracting as Jack Audley - who may, or may not, be the lost duke. The charming rogue has no desire to go along with the duchess' plans, but he stays for the pleasure of Grace's company. Because, really, if a man's world is about to be overturned, he surely deserves some comfort.
Yet as the duchess' plans progress, Jack realises it's more than comfort he wants from Grace. But if Jack truly is the duke, can she ever be anything more?
With this duology (this and
Mr Cavendish, I Presume
) Julia Quinn attempts a new idea, which sadly doesn't quite pay-off. Oh, this book retains her wonderful dialogue and sparkling wit, but it doesn't meet her usual standards. There's too much happening off-scene (unsurprising, as it makes up the other book), which detracts from the action here.
As a character Grace doesn't suffer too much, but then her role and history is clearly defined - companion to the duchess, friend to Thomas, love interest for Jack - and she emerges as a typical JQ heroine.
Not so for Jack. I'm not sure why, exactly but I never warmed to him. Perhaps, as Amelia puts it, he's `a little too charming'. He certainly has an interesting history, but for me all the vital facts emerge too near the end, when they reach Ireland. By which point I'm just not that interested anymore.
The question of who the Duke is dominates - naturally - and it often overwhelms the development of Jack's character, adding to the feel of a tale half told.
This tale isn't bad, and when paired with `Mr Cavendish, I Presume' it reads much better. It just isn't up to JQ's usual standard.
I have to say first off, that I am a big fan of Julia Quinn, and have read most of her books. This one was a nice read, and in parts quite witty, but it is missing something and I cannt even put my finger on what it is. I enjoyed it, dont get me wrong! but it didnt enthrall me in the way that others have. I still think it is well worth a read, and I will probably go ahead and get the 2nd book as well, but I am just that tiny bit reserved in my praise because this story isnt brilliantly good, which Julia's usually are. Having said that, Julia on a not-so-good day still outshines many other regency writers!! and I found the leading man to be charming and fun. I dont regret reading this, but I probably will not do so again, and thats rare for Julia Quinn, I can always re read her and enjoy the story again.
Like other reviews have said, I don't think this is the best JQ book. But it was still a great read. I liked Grace and I loved Jack and was glad he was so witty and charming because I think the book needed it as it seemed much more serious than other JQ books. I will be interested to read the second book, in this series, as going off this one, I do not like Thomas much at all.
P.S. I read this book after finishing "How To Marry A Marquis" and I can't help comparing the horrible Dowager to the wonderful Lady Danbury and wondering what would happen if these two formidable ladies met. LOL!
Jack is hiding a secret. Not that he is a highwayman. Not even that he is the lost heir to the dukedom. He believes his secret makes him unsuitable to be the duke. You should read the book and see what it is.
As a Georgette Heyer fan I was delighted to discover Julia Quinn's books a couple of years ago. Of all the Regency novelists I felt that she alone was able to capture at least some of the humour that Heyer put into her books. This one was a bit of a disappointment though. It is a bit thin on storyline and I hate to say this and don't wish to offend anyone but there are a few mistakes in it that perhaps a US audience would not pick up on (for instance, Jack speaks of looking forward to a 'slice' of shepherd's pie!). This spoilt it a little for me although I was able to overlook them in her other books (the heroine travels so many 'blocks' across London etc). It is an easy, entertaining read with little plot which Quinn fans will still, no doubt, enjoy reading. I'll still be buying her next - I just hope it's a bit better.
Julia Quinn is a brilliant writer, I have enjoyed every book that I have read. This book was no exception Once I started reading It I could not put it down. Would highly recommend this, especially if you are a lover of 1800 century.