by: Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway
This is the second book co-written by these three romance authors. (I enjoyed it more than the first, too.) Julia Quinn is my absolute favorite romance author – and one of my very favorite authors – because of her witty writing, wonderful characters and the way her writing acknowledges the social pressures of the world she sets her novels in.
This story, set in 1819 in a Scottish winter, follows four girls who were kidnapped by an older laird, known around town for his drunken yet harmless antics, wanting to provide his nephews with potential brides. And by kidnap, I mean Taran gets drunk and goes off willy-nilly to a ball and scoops up the girls, most of whom know him and are therefore rather more annoyed than scared. They then get snowed in at his castle with an assortment of eligible men and, well, romance happens.
I actually like this plot line as compared to the more often seen kidnapping plot lines: a) hero is angry and wants revenge and thus takes eligible woman or b) hero means to kidnap one woman and accidentally kidnaps another. Here, the heroes are all rather embarrassed and/or amused by the circumstance. The women, especially the heroine of the first part of the story, give Taran a good dressing down for his behavior and then wait out the storm with good humor and grace, free of fear or worry. There’s a distinct lack of Stockholm syndrome – it’s known that as soon as the storm stops everyone is free to go – and it’s nice that nobody starts off with a grudge against anyone else.
Time-span wise, everything takes place in 4 days, which is rather short but well done. And it does lead to one of my favorite phrases from a romance novel, “Love at first meaningful conversation.” (Which is much, much better than love at first sight.) I really loved Quinn’s story – she has, as I said, amazing wit. Her characters find humor in rather everyday things and nothing ever feels contrived. I just really, really enjoy her writing, even in short-story format. At some point, I’ll review one of her books and really explore why I love her novels.
Eloisa James wrote the second portion of the novel and I enjoyed it much more than I did her last novel. Her heroine has a bad reputation, which is a theme she’s dealt with before. I liked how she dealt with it for the most part, and honestly, some of the things her heroine is dealing with women still deal with today. Her writing, generally, is best when she’s dealing with the relationships between the main characters and side characters, such as close friends and family. Here, the heroine and her sister are constantly interacting and I think that’s part of the reason why I liked it better than her last novel.
Connie Brockway wrote the last third of the novel. I don’t read her novels on a regular basis, but I did like her writing her better than the last novel in three parts. She’s a decent writer overall but compared to Quinn and James her writing comes off as ever so slightly contrived and a tiny bit overly dramatic. Her hero was a little angst-y for my taste but I did like that her heroine, Cecily, was shy and reserved and completely okay with that. Others find her quiet and reserved and she states that she only truly feels at ease enough to be herself around loved ones. Regardless, Cecily is well-liked, popular, and self-confident.
All in all, this was a fun read and I was often delighted while reading it. I smiled, I laughed, I snorted – it was good times, y’all. Its worst fault is that it is the tiniest bit cheesy because of the short time span. Definitely read it if you like charming and witty romances, novellas, love at first sight (or meaningful conversation!) stories, or if you’re looking for a fun light read (this one is bubble-bath recommended). If you like drama-filled romances, steamy ones full of people ripping off clothes at the slightest provocation, or ones where a deep love develops slowly over a long period of time, then alas!, this may not be the book for you.
Have you read it? Do you enjoy this format? Drop a line in the comments and let me know!