Well, more of an abduction than an offer and definitely not from a gentleman. While I truly enjoyed the Bridgerton books 1-2, I had to hate read this one. Buckle up. This review is going to be 250+ words full of WTF. It definitely struck a different cord with me than it did with a lot of other Cannonballers.
Perhaps there is a reason that the second Bridgerton son, Benedict, is mostly absent or just lingering around in the background in the first two books. BECAUSE HE IS AN ARROGANT AND MANIPULATING STALKER. Yes, people. I have feelings about this book. Let me pull away from my red hot anger a bit and try to give a calm synopsis of the plot. Warning: it may be spoilery. I’m too irritated to tell.
Matriarch Violet Bridgerton is still attempting to marry off all of her older children. Now that the eldest son and daughter are hitched and building their own families, it is time for second son, Benedict, to find a suitable wife. While Benedict is starting to tire of the partying bachelor lifestyle, he still is a bit reluctant to settle down. That is until a mysterious young woman crashes his mother’s masquerade ball and he falls instantly in love with her. It gets very Cinderella-y from here. The mysterious young woman disappears and after a couple of years of trying to figure out who she is, Benedict gives up and resigns himself to the fact that he will never feel about another woman the way he feels about her.
Mysterious young woman, Sophie, is actually the bastard child of a swanky Earl. The swanky Earl takes her in after her mother dies and passes her off as his ward. Basically, she is educated, fed, and clothed but not truly loved or acknowledged. The servants are her only bffs. When the swanky Earl dies, Sophie is left to live with a wicked step-mother, one wicked step-sister and one kind of okay but cowardly step-sister. All of whom treat her like a slave.
Through a series of events, Sophie escapes her shitty life and becomes a servant to another swanky family that at least pays her for her service. Unfortunately, the son of said swanky family sexually harasses her until she quits. As a little parting gift, the son corners Sophie as she is leaving and begins the process of gang raping her with his buddies. Benedict Bridgerton, who is attending a party at this asshole’s house (red flag!), stumbles upon the attempted rape. After deciding it will inconvenience him, but he probably should put a stop to it (what a peach!), Benedict rescues Sophie and whisks her off to his nearby cottage in the woods. Our hero doesn’t recognize Sophie presumably because she isn’t dressed in a silver ballgown with a mask on but he still thinks she is hot enough to be hot for. While he can’t actually marry a maid who is so far beneath his class, he can take her on as a mistress. What an offer! Sophie isn’t thrilled with this generous proposal so he decides that threatening to tell the authorities that she “stole” something from him should sweeten the deal. Hilarity does not ensue.
Argh. It’s awful. I don’t understand how we are supposed to rally for a romance between these two when Benedict is so freaking despicable. His I-want-you-and-must-have-you-at-any-cost-and-I-know-you-really-dig-me-too-and-you-won’t-have-to-be-a-maid-so-I’m-doing-you-a-favor garbage was too much. Occasionally interspersing a little instropective “gee, maybe I’m being kind of an asshole to her” moments does not help this. It’s almost as if Quinn realized that she may have gone too far and tried to course correct. Too little too late.
As I said in my review of the first book in this series, I generally don’t get overly ruffled by egregious male behavior in historical fiction. I try to take it with a grain of “it’s a different time” salt. But this? Too far. Benedict can SUCK IT. I’m going to pretend that this book did not exist in the series so that I can move on with the next books. If there were negative stars I would give this -4. I think the biggest rub is that Quinn didn’t even need all of that crazy offensive narrative to begin with. Keep the Cinderella-y plot line and just make it a class issue MINUS the coercion . There would be plenty of drama in that.