Monday, December 20, 2010

What Happens in London

What Happens in London. Julia Quinn. 2009. HarperCollins. 384 pages.

By the age of twelve, Harry Valentine possessed two bits of knowledge that made him rather unlike other boys of his class in England of the early nineteenth century. The first was his complete and absolute fluency in the languages of Russian and French. There was little mystery surrounding this talent; his grandmother, the extremely aristocratic and opinionated Olga Petrova Oblenskiy Dell, had come to reside with the Valentine family four months after Harry's birth.

I love Julia Quinn's Regency romances. I do. There's just something about her writing (most of the time) that I just love. I love how she develops her characters. How well she captures individuality and personality. (Some of her couples I "love" more than others.) They are romances, and there are only so many ways for  it to go; but while reading a Quinn novel, it feels special, it feels different, like she's capturing a unique story between two people falling in love. It's very satisfying to discover each couple's story. I think two things contribute to this:  the narrative style, how most of her romances are presented from both the male and female perspective, and her dialogue. Quinn is able to capture her characters best when they're interacting with one another, when they're talking. Humor helps, of course.

What Happens in London is a great example of her humor. I loved how Olivia Bevelstoke and Sir Harry Valentine fall in love. I love how it is not love at first sight. I love how puzzled they are about one another. He's her new neighbor, and she ends up spying on him through her window. (Until she knows that he knows that she's spying at any rate!) I love how Harry teases Olivia. How he knows he's being "spied" on and acts accordingly. I love how these two get to know one another by reading a book together,  a very "bad" gothic romance by Sarah Gorely called Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron. I love all the quotes from that book. (Very, funny stuff!) The book ends up being very important to them all...

I also loved some of the secondary characters, especially Sebastian Grey and Olivia's twin brother, Winston.

The "smuttiness" of this one may not be for everyone. (Though I think it's relatively tame compared to some romance authors, and some classics even.) I thought the book as a whole was very well done. I loved the characters. I loved the humor. It is one of my favorite (adult) romances of the year.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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