It’s becoming quite the habit that I start one of these books before bed and then stay up to ungodly hours finishing it, because I have no self control. But I just wasn’t tired! And I wanted to see what happened! (Okay, so I knew what was going to happen, that’s the whole point of reading romance novels, but you know what I mean.)
An Offer From a Gentleman is the third of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books, and it’s basically a re-telling of Cinderella* (with some variations, of course). Sophie Beckett is the bastard (unacknowledged, even) daughter of the Earl of Penwood. He took her in when she was three years old as his “ward,” provided for her education, and gave her all the physical comforts she would need, but he was emotionally distant and Sophie was essentially an orphan. When she was older, her father finally took a wife, and we all know how it goes: Evil stepmother, two stepsisters, father dies. Only in this version, the stepmother only keeps Sophie on because the Earl promised her 4,000 additional pounds per year if she were to care for Sophie until her 20th birthday. But he never specified how she was to be cared for, so Sophie is essentially a maid in her own home.
*I do kind of wonder at the seemingly random decision of writing an eight book series, and just out of the blue being like, hey, one of these will be a fairytale re-telling! But it was fun to read, so it’s really just an observation, not a complaint.
The romance starts when Sophie sneaks out to a masquerade ball hosted by the Bridgertons, and there she meets Benedict. They are instantly attracted to one another, but Sophie knows this one magical night can be all they will ever have. The disparity in their situations is too great so they could never marry, and she has promised herself never to be any man’s mistress because she would never want to leave any child of her own so vulnerable to the same type of situation she’s been in her whole life. So she leaves without telling him her name, and he spends the next two years searching for his lady in silver.
At which point they meet again, and Sophie doesn’t tell him who she is.
I really liked this book. I know the consensus is that it’s one of the best in the series, but I will confess that my favorite so far is still The Viscount Who Loved Me. I don’t really know why, so don’t ask me. Sophie and Benedict were perfectly lovely characters. The appearances from the Bridgerton clan are kept well in control, which is nice, because these types of family saga romance series can easily get to cutesy and reliant on appearances from previous books’ characters. Quinn kept it mostly natural here.
I read the re-released version with the second epilogue, which I do want to note specially because the second epilogue was one of my favorite parts of the book. It was sweet and short, and adorable. I was particularly pleased by it because after the book was over, I kept wondering what was going to happen to Sophie’s nice stepsister, Posy, and that’s what the epilogue was entirely focused on.
In summation, I continue to be thankful that Malin sent me these books, and I will endeavor to make better life choices in reading and sleeping, at which I will probably fail.