By Julia Quinn
Release Date: May 29, 2012
A drunken challenge gone awry forced Daniel Smythe-Smith, Earl of Winstead, into exile. Roaming over Europe, he tried to stay one step ahead of the hired assassins of the Marquess of Ramsgate whose son, Hugh Prentice, Daniel shot. Three years after that misbegotten night, Hugh finds Daniel in Italy and tells him that it is safe to return to England. Hugh has his father’s promise to end the vendetta against Daniel. Eager for England and family, Daniel arrives home earlier than expected on the day of the annual Smythe-Smith musicale just as the concert is about to begin. Not wanting his return to upstage the performance, he observes from a back room. To his surprise, the pianist is not a Smythe-Smith, and Daniel is definitely interested in learning who she is. In fact, one look is all it takes for him to know he must kiss her. And one kiss leaves him intoxicated and wanting more: “She smelled like England, of soft rain and sun-kissed meadows. And she felt like the best kind of heaven.”
The mystery woman is Anne Wynter, governess to Daniel’s Pleinsworth cousins, Harriet, Elizabeth, and Frances. Anne enjoys her charges, and she places a high value on comfort and stability, experience having taught her how grim life can be without them. Anne has been on her own since she was sixteen when her father disowned her. The Earl of Winstead may be handsome and charming, but Anne is determined not to risk her hard-earned security by becoming involved with him. But she has no idea how persistent a smitten Daniel can be. When violence disrupts the outings Daniel engineers, he thinks his past is putting them at risk, but Anne has a dark past of her own and the threat may be from her old enemy. Dragons must be disposed of before a happy ending can be achieved.
The second book in the Smythe-Smith series is one of the feel-good romances of the year. It picks up where the last one left off, at the annual family musicale first made famous in Quinn’s beloved Bridgerton series. Once again Quinn does what she does best: she takes a standard Regency plot—governess with a big secret that puts her at risk falls for gallant aristocratic hero—and adds the touches that makes the story uniquely and delightfully hers. Anne is an immensely sympathetic and likeable heroine. Because of a mistake in judgment made when she was very young, she has been barred from all she has known and loved and forced to depend upon her own resources to survive. Life has made her cautious but not bitter, and it has not destroyed her sense of humor. As is common with Quinn’s books, the secondary characters are wonderfully drawn. Anne’s charges are particularly appealing. The scene with Harriet’s play is laugh-out-loud funny, and young Frances is key to the happy resolution.
But Daniel is the star of the book. Horrified by the results of the absurd duel, he accepts responsibility for maiming his friend, although his shooting him was an accident. His affection for his family is unmistakable, and he is the very pattern of a man totally blindsided and inebriated by love. Attracted to Anne from the moment he sees her, every meeting, every touch intensifies his feelings for her. He is euphoric just thinking about their first kiss.
He nearly bounced right off his feet, just thinking about it.
It had been splendid. Marvelous. A kiss to deny all previous kisses. Really, he didn't know what he'd been doing with all those other women, because whatever had happened when his kips had touched theirs, those had not been kisses.
Not like last night.
And the reader believes in the love that grows between these two because she sees them spend time together. They talk and laugh and share pieces of their lives with one another, and attraction deepens into a love that includes passion and liking and respect.
If you are a Julia Quinn fan, you will not want to miss this one. If you’ve never read Quinn and you like light-hearted romance that is more than froth, romance that leaves you with a smile on your face and a sigh of satisfaction, read A Night Like This. Then, glom her backlist. I’m already looking forward to the next Smythe-Smith book and hoping that Hugh Prentice will be the hero.
What's your favorite Julia Quinn book? Who else do you count on for feel-good books?