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Caroline Trent finds herself in rather unfortunate circumstances ahead of her twenty-first birthday, with her guardian desperate to marry her off to his son and as such secure her fortune. Her only option is to run away, unless she wishes to spend the rest of her life married to the abominable Percy that is. However, the last thing she expects when fleeing is to be captured by a rather dashing war office hero, who for some reason mistakes her identity as that of a treacherous spy. Still, as she finds herself being held at Seacrest Manor by Mr Blake Ravenscroft, Caroline wonders if this might not actually be the ideal solution to while away her time until her birthday in a few weeks; after all at least she's safe from the odious Prewitts. Blake, meanwhile, doesn't take long to realise his error; and its just as well really, for he couldn't live with himself harbouring such lecherous thoughts for a traitor. However, still grieving the loss of his former fiancée, nor is sure he can live with himself slowly and surely falling for Caroline.
Another romantic escapade from Quinn, with rather more action and adventure thrown in than most of her books. The story started off well, with Blake mistaking Caroline's identity and holding her hostage making for some amusing incidents. Unfortunately I thought the pace began to drag rather once he found out who she really was; and most of the rest of the book principally involves Blake stubbornly refusing to admit his feelings for Caroline to himself. Whilst one could understand his sense of guilt and conflict due to his dead fiancée, at the same time it did all start to seem rather repetitive and unnecessarily protracted; and I'm not how much I brought Blake as the tortured hero. Caroline makes for an amusing and generally appealing heroine; though at times I did find her a little provoking.
I liked the appearance of James, the Marquis of Riverdale, who has his own story in How to Marry a Marquis; and I have to say that James more often than not stole whatever scene he was in, his wry and light manner much more appealing than Blake's. Overall not my favourite of Quinn's books; I often found myself losing patience with the story and simply didn't find it as engaging as most of her others.
Julia writes of a romance blossoming between an agent of the crown and a young heiress who has been most unfortunate in her guardians. The story is presumably well researched but some details are unconvincing. Don't let the author loose on an English garden. She will kill all the roses! Light reading. Good for a deckchair.
This novel contains none of the witty situations and dialogue of Ms Quinn's other books (The Bridgerton series, 10 Things I Love About You). The plot is pretty sketchy and the characters rather two dimensional. I love dialogue but there's too much here. Not her best. The second book in the series How To Marry A Marquis is much better.
An easy read spoiled for me by geographical errors that could have been sorted out with a quick visit to Wikipedia. The most annoying were the references to the "city" of Bournemouth. There are no cities in Dorset, Bournemouth did not exist as a place name until the Victorian era, and the land where Bournemouth now stands was in Hampshire. There are many words that change their meanings when you cross the Atlantic, a good editor should be able pick these out to help readers focus on the story and not the glaring mistake.
It appears to me that Julia Quinn is getting more silly as she gets older. I avidly read the Bridgertons and purchased all the series. Then the Smythe Smythe came along, and they began to get boring. This adventure was so full of bickering, that like the Marquess, I bailed. The couple drove me crazy too. And, I wouldn't want a spouse with a quick temper. No fun there!
Please don't use this book as an into to Julia Quinn's works. She does much much better elsewhere.