Book Review: The Girl With The Make Believe Husband

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FullSizeRenderTitle: The Girl With The Make Believe Husband
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback

Summary
When Cecilia Harcourt receives a letter that her brother, and only remaining family member, was injured on the battlefields in the Colonies, she packs up a few meager belongings and heads across the Atlantic Ocean to find him. Upon arrival though, instead of finding her brother she found his best friend, Edward Rokesby, unconscious in hospital. In an effort to help Edward, she tells his superiors she is his wife. Edward eventually wakes up, however he has amnesia and despite not remembering getting married, recognizes Cecilia and believes she must be his wife, as everyone says. As they set out to find out what happened to her brother, Cecilia finds herself tangled in the lie more and more, and wondering what will happen to her heart when Edward finally regains his memories.

Review
As with all Julia Quinn books I’ve read, and I’ve read them all (she’s my favorite), I was hooked from the first sentence. And true to form, it was a quick read and a book that had me staying up much too late to finish…and paying the price the next morning. It was a cute story and I really enjoyed the change of scenery in America (or what will become America). However, the story was simple. It had great promise and then it just kind of concluded. Did it have a good ending that made me smile? Yes. Did I find myself laughing throughout the book? Yes. Did I like the characters? Yes. But there was just something missing. If you’re looking for a quick, fun summer read though, this is definitely the book for you!

Rating
3.5 stars

Book Review: Four Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology

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img_1965Title: Four Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology
Author: Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Laura Lee Guhrke, Stefanie Sloane
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback

Summary
When four friends, Beatrice, Anne, Elizabeth and Elinor, find a sixpence in an old mattress at Madame Rochambeaux’s Gentle School for Girls, they know that despite their difference in social classes, they will be forever bonded. Remembering the old nursery rhyme about marriage they decide that this will be their lucky coin to find true love and prosperous marriages.

“Something old
Something new
Something borrowed
Something blue
And a sixpence in her shoe”

Review
I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies. On the plus side, I appreciate the short stories, especially those that intersect and it’s a great opportunity to try out an author I might not have read before. On the opposite side though, the short stories can sometimes feel rushed at the end since they have to wrap up so quickly and there is usually one story that just doesn’t match up to the others in quality and interest.

Julia Quinn is my absolute favorite author. After reading the Avon teen romances, she was the first author I picked in the romance genre to try and fell in love with her Bridgerton series. Her premise for this story about 4 friends and the age-old marriage nursery rhyme fit well in Regency England. However, each story was very clearly its own story, which left me with a bit of disconnect. I would have like to have seen the 4 girls cross over within each story a bit more, however I understand that would have been difficult to do given the four authors each developed one of the girls. I did appreciate though, the difference in social classes and how each still made very respectable matches, keeping some variety in the story.

Sloane’s story of Anne read as a typical romance novel. Girl needs to marry a respectable man, girl meets non-respectable man, Rhys, and he agrees to help her find a respectable husband, man falls in love with girl, man and girl are stubborn and don’t see they’re in love, they live happily ever after.  It was the prefect start to the premise of the rhyme and offered a story line that was refined and felt like it wrapped up well.

Boyle’s story while the longest, was the cutest play on the rhyme for “something borrowed”. While it felt like it concluded it well enough, it did feel a bit dragged out at times between Cordelia and Christopher Talcott. However, it also had the most supporting characters in my opinion which helped to provide depth to the characters and story itself, which could account for the longer story.

Guhrke’s story, while an interesting premise and did bring more to the story of the girls growing up, seemed to end quite suddenly. All of the building and tension between Elinor and Lawrence in response to the case against her father felt like it needed some big ending and instead it just sort of ended and everyone lived happily ever after. I also would have liked to have seen a better idea for “something blue” than blue eyes. It was my least favorite of the four stories.

Quinn’s story was short (the shortest of the four stories), sweet and the perfect conclusion. Beatrice and Frederick seemed to have the most depth of any of the characters and the way it was released little by little with the growing attraction between them made the conclusion make sense and feel well-timed.

Rating
4 Stars

Book Review: Belgravia

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img_1872Title: Belgravia
Author: Julian Fellowes
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: Hardcover

Summary
The year is 1815 and the creme de la creme of British society in Brussels has come together for a party to be remembered. What they can’t foresee is that most of the gentleman in that ballroom will be killed the next day at the Battle of Waterloo. Among those who were killed was the handsome Edmund Brockenhurst, Lord Bellasis. Prior to his death he’d become acquainted with Miss Sophia Trenchard, daughter of General Wellington’s supplier, and member of a different class. Tragically, Sophia dies months later as well. The impact of this liaison will not be felt however, until 25 years later, back in London where the Trenchards are now living in the fashionable neighborhood of Belgravia, when societal classes will clash and you’ll be left wondering if sometime secrets are better left in the past.

Review
Being an Anglophile, especially in what I read, I decided I wanted to branch out from my normal pick of historical romance. I was a big fan of Downton Abbey (and The Crown, Victoria…you get the idea), so when I saw this novel and read the quick synopsis, I knew I had to give it a try. The historical facts and accuracy in this book as it pertains to the time period and specifically Belgravia, were amazing. I found myself wanting to research if this or that was true. The story itself is fascinating. In true Downton Abbey form, you’re introduced to both the upstairs and downstairs stories and how they intermix, while also showing how difficult it was to climb the social system in Britain at that time through the unlikely alliance of two families. After the initial chapters in Brussels, the story slows for a bit while the past is taking shape. However, the use of historical facts and detail in the writing is what keeps the story moving. With some expected and other unexpected turns, you feel like things come to the right conclusion in the end and that the turmoril of the secrets from 25 years ago that you can’t help to feel yourself have settled.

Rating
3.5 Stars