I devoured this book in one sitting. There’s really not much else you need to know about it. It isn’t my favorite Bridgerton book (book #1 so far would be An Offer From a Gentleman), but it is quite good.
Eloise Bridgerton is the fifth child of Bridgerton brood and 1824 finds her firmly on the shelf after turning down many marriage proposals, and newly alone following the marriage of her best friend and fellow spinster Penelope. At loose ends, Eloise decides to accept an invitation from widower Sir Phillip Crane, whom she has been corresponding with for over a year, to visit him at his country home to see if they suit.
However, because this is Eloise, she doesn’t actually answer his invitation and instead shows up one morning unannounced. Sir Phillip, were he expecting her at all, is expecting someone more fitting with his mental image of a twenty-eight-year-old spinster, and it leaves him confused, perplexed, and without much idea what to do with her now that she’s arrived. Also, did I mention that he has twins from his first marriage and a lot of baggage about his deceased wife (who is also Eloise’s distant cousin)? Because that’s all in here too.
I’m on the record as stating that I find Julia Quinn’s strengths to lie squarely with how well (and quickly) she is able to flesh out her characters. They are fully fledged people with personalities and quirks all their own, and give great dialogue. (Which was unfortunately missing in my most recent read). I was all too happy to see the Bridgerton brothers stomping onto the scene once they realize where Eloise has run off to. But, that wasn’t where the book shined best, instead it was in the neatly wrapped up relationship between Phillip and Eloise, because we are treated to a couple who do know each other, but not as well as they might have hoped or expected, but in turn find themselves enraptured by the character of the other (as well as their physical attributes). This, plus the interplay with the various dynamics of family and responsibility make for a truly enjoyable read.
My only regret is that I didn’t read this book in closer proximity to Romancing Mr. Bridgerton as several of the important plot beats are the same. But, several months’ delay didn’t seem to lessen my enjoyment overmuch. I am also having trepidations about the next Bridgerton book When He Was Wicked which is Francesca’s book, and loathed by many a cannonballer. My greatest concern so far is that Francesca has been entirely absent from the books, and we just don’t know the character. I had similar concerns about Benedict going into his book, but I do not have hopes that Quinn will be able to pull this trick off twice.
For now, I’ve completed a quarter cannonball and am on pace for my goal of 91 books for the year!