Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Review: A Night Like This

I know it's extremely sacrilegious to say, but Julia Quinn can be a bit of a hit or miss with me. I know. I'm going to hell.

The woman has twenty plus novels to her name; they're not all going to be a grand slam, right? Even Nora writes a lemon occasionally, right? And as with any book, I doubt Ms. Quinn has had a unanimous "LIKE" because you can't please everybody, though I imagine there are books that have come really close to total popular approval. (Romancing Mr. Bridgerton comes to mind for me. I adore that book!) In fact, she couldn't go wrong with a Bridgerton novel--and then she finally ran out of Bridgertons.

So really if you think about it, this was a bit like J.K. Rowling trying to write something after Harry Potter. Too much griping about the book not being enough like Harry Potter. Or perversely, too much so.

I enjoyed the experiment of dueling books of Mr. Cavendish and the Duke of Wyndham; and I recognized some of the old-time charm in Ten Things I Love About You--but what really put Julia Quinn back on my must-have-and-must-read-this-now Book List was the reintroduction of some very special and beloved characters from the Bridgerton era: The Smythe-Smiths, the eminently unmusical yet clad with instruments recital playing family of female cousins.

I loved them.

And I still do. If you were remotely a fan of the Bridgertons, this is your series. Best of all, you don't have to have had read a single Bridgerton novel to enjoy the books. The poor Bridgertons have been allowed to live in peace and Happily Ever Afters. This is a series all unto itself. Best of all, whereas it occasionally felt to me that the Bridgertons were a bit too happy to be real--even the one who was horribly widowed--these characters suffer. If you enjoyed the torture that Julia Quinn put her Wyndhams through, the darker, edgier side of Ms. Quinn, you'll enjoy this book. TORTURE! TORMENT! BLACK MOMENTS GALORE!

I think with this series Julia Quinn has taken the best elements of her Bridgertons and the best elements of her darker, more tormented novels--and given us a balance of romance that builds from the solid foundation of friendship, the realistic constrictions of the time period, and conflict that rings true for the characters that would have lived then. It still has the delicious sigh of romance and fantasy--wouldn't we all love a Daniel?--but makes him feel like a real man of his period. And by God, when someone gets ill in her books, they're really ill! Thank you, Julia Quinn! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If none of these things sold you, the three kids should. (No dogs this time. Only children. I love authors--it's always a dog or a kid who wins the hearts of the readers, isn't it?) But the kids are hilarious, especially Frances, who I adore and not for the obvious reasons.

When Avon shipped me the latest set of books for review, I snatched this one up first. It was the one I had been most waiting for (and hoping for)--and I think a lot of other people are too. No worries. It's every bit as delightful, entertaining, and well-played as you would hope. This book is going on my keeper shelf--and all I can say is, "I highly recommend this book. You won't regret it." 

Summer is almost here and it's time for another Smythe-Smith musical. Brace yourself--you're in for a ride!

Have you read Julia Quinn before? What's your favorite Julia Quinn novel and why? What book are you most looking forward to reading this summer?


Maureen said...

I'm obviously in the lowest level of hell. Never read her. *ducking now

Marnee Bailey said...

ARRRGHHHH!!! I can't wait for this book. This is one I've been waiting for and it's on preorder on my Kindle.

I've read all the Bridgertons and loved them.

But I didn't really like a lot of the ones after that. In fact, I wasn't sure I was going to give the Smythe-Smiths a chance. But I'm glad I did. Just Like Heaven was wonderful.

Can't wait for this book!!

Di R said...

Julia Quinn used to be an autobuy for me, but then there were a couple that I didn't care for. so I've been a little skittish about the Smythe-Smiths. Maybe I'll check them out.

Thanks for the recomendation!


MsHellion said...

Mo, I was kinda expecting your answer. *LOL* If you do ever feel the need to try her, I do recommend ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON or JUST LIKE HEAVEN or A NIGHT LIKE THIS. For me, those are the creme de la creme of Julia Quinn.

Marn, is out today? Or does it come out next Tuesday?? (I bet it's next Tueday, isn't it?) If it's any consolation, I finally mailed your package on Saturday, so you should get it this week (maybe even tomorrow), so you'll have the Tattooed Duke to keep you occupied until this one comes out.

Di, you and Marn have relieved me. :) I think we could start our own little support group for favorite authors who have scared us with their last few books--can we trust them again? *LOL* Do give the Smythe-Smiths a whirl. Just lovely books.

TerriOsburn said...

I read one Quinn years ago but it wasn't a Bridgerton book. It was okay, but nothing that made me want to tear through her back list. She does have her die-hard fans though. And I've been fortunate to meet her. From what I can tell, she's much like her books. Quiet but with a wit that will take you by surprise when you least expect it.

MsHellion said...

Terri, I know you don't care for series, but you should read ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON. That was a book written for us. It is THE book for the girls on the fringe, in love with the charmer next door.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I have this book on the top of my TBR pile! I've only read 1 book by her - I know, I know! - and I cannot wait to read this one.

Great review!

quantum said...

I second 'Romancing Mr Bridgerton' as the cream of JQ. I have a few of hers still waiting to be read so don't want to add another just yet.

As always though, you leave me sorely tempted! *smile*

Maureen said...

Thanks for not consigning me to the lowest level of hell... There are just so few hours in the day to read, I hesitate to add another historical romance author to my list. You all talked me into Eloisa once...

I need to look at some books a bit closer to what I'm writing!

Janga said...

I started reading Julia Quinn with Splendid, her debut novel, and haven't missed a book since. I have liked all her books, some more than others. On the Way to the Wedding was a disappointment, but even so I was furious when it was AAR's worst book of the year, a title it certainly did not deserve. It won a Rita so clearly I was not the only one who disagreed with AAR voters.

I rank A Night Like This high on my list of favorites by JQ. I love Daniel! It does release next Tuesday, as do two more great historicals, Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle and A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant.

As for what I'm looking forward to reading this summer, I have ninety books and still adding on my summer reading list. Right now I'm most excited about a June 5 release that I just got today, Kaki Warner's Bride of the High Country and Jenny Crusie's just-released Crazy People, which I just bought a few minutes ago. SMBSLT, as San always says.

MsHellion said...

Q, it is my goal in life to tempt you! *LOL*

Mo, I save the lowest level for non HP readers! *LOL* I'll give you a pillow for at least making it through the first two books.

Janga, your review of Cecilia Grant's newest sounds DELICIOUS. I'm immediately adding her to my must read list. I knew you would adore Daniel. *LOL* He's really just a great guy. Julia Quinn does the best 'beta' like men, and this one is particularly good because he was a guy who could be a friend, but he was also very sexy and manly. (There was one hero (for me) she's written where I was like, "It feels like I'm reading about siblings making out." I'm sure NOT everyone felt the same. However, I was very happy that this guy was everything a romance hero should be.) And I agree: OTWTTW did not deserve a worst book of the year rating--that's crazy. I do remember scenes from that book I really enjoyed. I think sometimes we're harsher with favorite authors and expect them to exceed our already high expectations every single time. It's just not possible.

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