Sebastian Grey is in limbo. He is the heir presumptive to the Earl of Newbury, unless the current earl, a widower, can find a bride who will bear him a son. Newbury is in his sixties and somewhat portly, but as an earl he’s considered quite a catch. Sebastian, on the other hand, is twenty-nine and extremely handsome, but in no hurry to find a wife.
Annabel Winslow, a country girl through and through, has received an offer to go to London for the season. The eldest of a family of eight, she knows that a good marriage might be the only thing that will save her family from ruin. After a few weeks in town, Annabel attracts the attention of the Earl of Newbury. The thought of submitting to him makes her skin crawl, but she is practical and determined to do her duty. Even when Sebastian Grey comes on the scene.
Age when first read – I can’t quite remember how old I was when I first discovered Julia Quinn through this book. I feel like I must have been 20-21 when I did but cannot pinpoint exactly.
Importance – I had never read something like this before and I felt like I was stepping into a chocolate box of merriment. I was blown away by how interesting the book was and once I’d discovered her other work I was equally obsessed with how all the characters involved, even the secondary characters or almost non-existant characters get to have their stories told. This book blended historical drama with romance and did it in a way that made if feel genuine and unique. The characters are full formed and rounded in their attributes. I’d mostly shied away from romance novels at this point and I was pleased to discover that there was a genre I could read that still held romance but held it in a way that was interesting and not predictable. Annabel Winslow’s adventure took her all over in terms of her emotions and convictions to do what was right. I believed in her and wanted to see her get the ending she deserved.
What was learnt – It wasn’t anything I learnt about the time period but really that I learnt I could still enjoy the romance genre without finding it too predictable or infuriating and for the most part all these ‘love triangles’ make me want to stick a fork in my eye. I guess I felt inspired while reading this and it made me think that I shouldn’t discard a book just because it has a sub-genre of romance.
Reading as an adult – I have gone back and reread this many times. It is an old favourite of mine. Now, though, I have an entire shelf dedicated to Julia Quinn’s works and she has become one of my favourite authors. Every time I read this book it feels in part like I am reading something new but also that I am coming home to an old favourite. There is a richness to all aspects, the characters, the setting, the descriptions, the details, the emotions etc. Every part of this book fills me with happiness as I read it.
Overall rating – 10!