Tuesday, March 18, 2008
An Offer From A Gentleman
Quinn, Julia. 2001. An Offer From A Gentleman.
An Offer From A Gentleman follows the Cinderella motif. True, the Bridgerton family isn't royalty. Benedict Bridgerton, the second son in the family, isn't technically a prince. But he does play the role of "Prince Charming" to a young woman, Sophie Beckett, quite well. Quite well indeed. Sophie, our heroine, is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Penwood. He treats her well enough, I suppose, but all that changes after he marries a widow with two daughters of his own. Especially after his death. Araminta plays the role of the wicked step-mother perfectly. (Think Ever After.) And Rosamund and Posy are the stepsisters. As you can guess, Sophie became a servant or slave to all after her father's death. The book begins with the family preparing to go to a ball. The Bridgerton's are hosting a masquerade ball. Sophie who follows the Bridgerton family quite closely through Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, wishes she could go, of course. It all sounds so splendid compared to the mundane details of her life--polishing shoes, mending dresses, serving tea, fixing hair, etc. Playing the role of fairy godmother, we have Mrs. Gibbons the housekeeper. Wearing her grandmother's clothes--dress, gloves, etc., soon Sophie is looking like a princess. Dressed in silver, she without a doubt captures the attention of Benedict. They share one perfect night--a few kisses, a few dances, but nothing shockingly indecent--she vanishes at midnight when the masks are to be removed and their identities revealed. Benedict searches in vain to find his perfect soul mate....
All that being the first eighty pages of the book.
The real heart of the story is what happens next. What happens if Prince Charming couldn't find his Cinderella quite so quickly. What happens if Cinderella-as-maid was right under his nose but he couldn't recognize her for who she is or who she was.
I don't want to say too much or too little. Benedict is a charming hero but not always the brightest hero. And Sophie isn't a saint by any means. But I loved them and I loved their story. This was the first of the Bridgerton series I'd read. I picked it up because I love Cinderella stories. What I encountered was a thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly fleshed-out family that is full of heart, wit, humor, and spunkiness. Benedict is the second in a family of eight children. And while not all children get equal attention, those that do enter into the action are so enjoyable that you can't help but love them all. After reading this novel, I had to search out the others in the series. (At the time I read it, the series was ongoing.)
If you like regency romance novels.
If you like Cinderella stories.
If you like historical romance novels.
Then chances are you'll enjoy An Offer From A Gentleman by Julia Quinn.
First sentence: This year's sought-after invitation must surely be that of the Bridgerton masquerade ball, to be held Monday next. Indeed, one cannot take two steps without being forced to listen to some society mama speculating on who will attend, and perhaps more importantly, who will wear what.