Mon 4 May 2009
Julia Quinn is one of the most popular writers of historical romances set during the Regency era. A graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe, she adds to the diversity among education and background that has come to characterize both readers and writers of romance. Her series of eight novels following the various siblings in the Bridgerton family (it started with The Duke and I and ended with On the Way to the Wedding) increased her popularity; each of the eight siblings’ names starts with a different letter of the alphabet, based on birth order. (So Anthony is the oldest, then Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth, the youngest. Yes, I knew that off the top of my head.) She has written quite a few other novels; many are tied together by similar characters or ideas, including Lady Whistledown, a pseudonymous gossip columnist, who features prominently in several books and stories.
These two volumes are mirrors, each telling one half of the same story, although presumably to be read in publication order (how I listed them above). Jack Audley is a highwayman who generally donates his proceeds to wounded veterans of the Napoleonic Wars; he makes the mistake, one night, of attempting to rob a dowager duchess who seems to recognize him. She knows his father’s name, even, and as it turns out, Jack is the son of the duchess’s favorite, and second-oldest, son. More interesting to Jack than his possible elevation to the peerage is the duchess’s companion, Grace Eversleigh, an impoverished young woman of good but not excellent birth. On the other side of the story (in the other volume), we have the current duke, Thomas, who has been putting off marrying his fiancee, Amelia, to whom he has been affianced for all but six months of her life. Then, all of a sudden, she becomes surprisingly attractive — at about the same time that Jack Audley shows up. Will he still be able to marry Amelia? (more…)