It’s In His Kiss (Bridgerton, #7) – Julia Quinn

Source: Goodreads

Hyacinth Bridgerton may be the youngest of the Bridgerton clan, but she is far from the picture of refined elegance that her elder siblings garnered in the ballrooms of London. Hyacinth has been dealing professionally in gossip and intrigue since she was born. It’s no wonder, then, that her best friend in the world is the only woman in London able to speak her mind whenever she pleases: Lady Danbury. They have an appointment every Tuesday, where Hyacinth usually entertains the grandmotherly figure by reading the latest novel that they’ve come upon.

It is at one of these Tuesday appointments that Hyacinth makes the unfortunate acquaintance of Lady Danbury’s grandson, Gareth St. Clair. Gareth is a younger son forced into the position of heir, but still unable to escape his father’s ominous shadow. When he comes upon his only inheritance from his paternal grandmother, an old diary written in Italian, Gareth knows he will help to translate its contents and potentially locate her missing jewelry in order to rescue the St. Clair estates from his father’s clutches. Enter Hyacinth, who has less than a firm grasp of Italian, but is his maternal grandmother’s trusted friend, the exact kind of person Gareth himself is short on these days.

As Gareth and Hyacinth delve into Grandmother St. Clair’s diary and churn up the truth about Gareth’s past, the young man must also come to terms with his present and future, and decide if that future has space enough for Hyacinth, who is herself discovering what kind of woman she wants to become.

After the clump of books 4, 5, and 6 happening concurrently, it felt nice for time to pick back up to its normal pace again. Hyacinth has always been one of my favorite characters, as has Lady Danbury, and Gareth’s sarcasm and wit fit into the mix quite nicely. The rest of the Bridgertons orbited our hero and heroine well, and the twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing. Hyacinth is nothing if not the queen of mischief, so it was no surprise that she got up to all kinds of escapades in her own story. The hunt for the jewels and the addition of Italian as the language of choice for the diary really set this one apart. Once you’ve finished all of the Bridgerton novels, you’ll definitely want to check out The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After for even more fun with all of the couples – though Hyacinth’s final story will forever hold a special place filled with glee in my heart.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other reviews in this series:
Book 1 – The Duke And I
Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman
Book 4 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love
Book 6 – When He Was Wicked
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding(Review available on May 28th)

When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton, #6) – Julia Quinn

Source: Goodreads

Concurrent with the previous two books in the Bridgerton saga is Franchesca’s story. Although she is rarely mentioned and even more rarely seen in the previous novels, Francesca is a Bridgerton through and through. Married a few years before the start of this story, Franchesca is supremely happy with her husband, John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin, and they are set to celebrate their anniversary when he dies suddenly. Left widowed, she turns to the new Earl, John’s cousin Michael, for support. Michael, however, feels suddenly that he must get away from Franchesca as well as John’s memory, and flees to India for three years.

As the years go by, Franchesca puts her time as the Countess of Kilmartin into running the estate in Michael’s place, but all the while she feels lonelier and lonelier. After three years, she happens to arrive in London for the season at the same moment that Michael returns from the continent, both of them ready to face the marriage mart. As they attempt to rekindle their friendship and navigate their way through the overcrowded ballrooms unexpected sparks begin to fly, and Franchesca finds herself running back to Scotland in the fear that she might dishonor John’s memory by reaching for the one thing she never thought she would find again: love.

I really wish we had focused a bit more on her first marriage, since John felt distant an unimportant, despite him being deeply involved in the storyline and the two main character’s lives. That being said, I quite enjoyed Colin’s interruptions of Michael’s quiet evenings, egging him on. We got to know both main characters pretty well despite Franchesca being a bit more of a loner than the rest of the Bridgertons, which explains her being rarely present in the previous books. Colin, Eloise, and Hyacinth are in nearly every book, meddling in their siblings affairs, but Franchesca operates almost entirely independent of her family. This book was mostly Franchesca and Michael insisting they could never do exactly what they were in the midst of doing, and people pointing out what they were doing, even while they denied it. The illness aspects of the book definitely helped move the plot along, but also detracted from potential character development.

I am always unsure how I feel about this one. On the one hand, I want more of Franchesca’s story. I need to understand her as a child, sharing a birthday with Eloise, in order to understand her as an adult. Maybe that is the problem I also had with the previous book. I needed more of a relationship between Eloise and Franchesca to understand Eloise.

HHC rating: 3.5 Stars.

Other Reviews in this Series:
Book 1 – The Duke and I
Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman
Book 4 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love
Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss(Review available on May 14th)
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding(Review available on May 28th)

Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgerton, #4) – Julia Quinn

Source: Goodreads

Colin Bridgerton has always been the free spirit of the family. He’s traveled much of the known world, and he’s never given a thought to marriage. He arrives home from one of his adventures and runs into his brothers on his mother’s doorstep, where an argument ensues, pushing him to make the declaration that he will ‘never’ marry Penelope Featherington. To add to his misfortune, Penelope herself happens to just then be leaving his mother’s home.

Penelope has no plans for marriage. She and her best friend Eloise are going to settle somewhere together and live out their days in peace. Privately though, she’s always been a little bit in love with her best friend’s brother, Colin. The two of them have been friendly for years – Eloise is Colin’s favorite sister, and Penelope is the only non-family member he is comfortable being himself around, but the Featherington family is the silliest in London, and Penelope has always been a wallflower – dressed in colors that are always unflattering to her complexion.

When Colin finally gets up the courage to apologize to Penelope, he can see that something has changed, that their friendship is damaged, and that it is up to him to fix it. Yet, in setting out to heal his friendship with Penelope, Colin begins to realize how much, and just how little, he really knows about her. Add to their lives one of the quietest London Seasons in years and a plot to unmask the notorious Lady Whistledown, and Colin has his work cut out for him if he has any hope of keeping his newfound feelings under wraps.


If Kate and Anthony’s story is my favorite to read, then Penelope and Colin’s is my favorite to reflect upon. Romancing Mister Bridgerton is the fourth in an eight-book saga, and rounds out the marriages of the elder four Bridgertons. It also wraps up the Lady Whistledown story arc, and manages to occur nearly simultaneously with books five and six, which explore Eloise and Franchesca’s stories.

Watching Colin and Penelope try to find their equilibrium and rebuild their friendship while they wrestle with their feelings and their own personal disasters is, simply put, a work of art. There is a lot going on in this book, which can make it feel like it is flying by and also covering a wide range of characters. Because it is also setting up Eloise’s story, this book has a couple of chapters that are not told through Penelope or Colin’s eyes, and that adds another dash of mystery to what is already an enchanting story.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other reviews in this series:
Book 1 – The Duke And I
Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love
Book 6 – When He Was Wicked
Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss(Review available on May 14th)
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding(Review available on May 28th)

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton, #2) – Julia Quinn

Source: Goodreads

Anthony Bridgerton has always known he would die young. He has no plans to fall in love because he can’t bear the thought of leaving someone like his father left his mother – alone. He will marry, of course, to bear an heir for the family line, but he knows he won’t live to see the child grown. As the head of the Bridgerton family since he was 18, Anthony is a hardened man with a healthy appetite for women. He just needs a young, pretty thing to raise his children and make his mother happy.

Kate Sheffield has been the head of her small family since her father’s death. She loves her stepmother and half-sister more than life but is overly protective of them, especially when her stepmother convinces them both to have a London Season. Overshadowed by her younger sister, the diamond of the season, Kate is happy just to attend the parties and make a few friends before they return to the country for good. Then Anthony Bridgerton, a Viscount and pronounced rake, not to mention the catch of the season, begins angling for her sister’s affection and Kate smells trouble. Her efforts to prevent Anthony from sullying her sister’s reputation or breaking her sister’s heart have an entirely unintended effect, however, when Kate quite suddenly becomes engaged to the man herself after he loses his composure in the presence of a bee.


This book is cheesy and adorable, and to two main characters are just like puzzle pieces looking for each other all their lives. I always start this series thinking I could never love anyone more than Daphne, and then along comes Kate, who completely turns Anthony’s world upside down and confounds him to no end. Kate is the kind of character who sticks with you for years and years after reading. She is quiet and calm, but also aggressive and outspoken when the moment demands it. She is no wilting flower, but even heroines need saving some of the time.

I return to The Bridgerton Saga again and again because it has the trifecta of great writing: magnificent world-building that doesn’t overwhelm the reader, vibrant characters that are interesting on their own but shine in the presence of each other, and plots that are personalized to each character’s unique personality and position in the world, drawing everything together with a little bit of the magic of fate.


HHC Rating: 5 stars.



Other reviews in this series:
Book 1 – The Duke And I
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman
Book 4 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love
Book 6 – When He Was Wicked
Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss (Review available on May 14th)
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding (Review available on May 28th)

The Duke and I (Bridgerton, #1) – Julia Quinn

Bridgerton-1-The-Duke-And-I-Julia-Quinn
Source: Goodreads

Daphne wants nothing more than to marry and raise a family. As the fourth child in the Bridgerton clan of eight and the first girl, she knows a lot about men – from her three older brothers. Unfortunately, this knowledge makes her a pal to the men who would court her, and she has been hunting a husband for two years now without success, much to the chagrin of her mother, the widowed Lady Bridgerton.

Simon, Duke of Hastings, has returned to England after the recent death of his father, whom he despised above all else. After six years on the continent, he is ready to get back to visiting his friends and his clubs. The problem, of course, is that at the age of 28 many of his friends have married and now possess young wives who scheme to introduce the new duke to potential future duchesses.

After a significant encounter, Simon and Daphne hatch a plan. They will pretend to form an attachment. The women will stop hounding Simon, and the men will jealously pursue Daphne, finally viewing her as a potential bride instead of a best friend who happens to be a woman. The biggest problem, of course, is Daphne’s family. Her eldest brother, Anthony, is Simon’s best friend, and her remaining six siblings – as well as her mother – take an immediate shine to the idea of having Simon as a permanent fixture in their lives. Simon’s reasons for fleeing to the continent in the first place will pose a challenge as well, as his past haunts his every decision.

Julia Quinn is one of my all-time favorite writers. The Bridgeton clan, as well as Lady Whistledown and her gossip paper, are some of my favorite characters ever written, and their emotions are palpable as you read their stories. Every character is richly developed, with complicated, deep relationships between every sibling and acquaintance. Daphne and Simon’s story is one that dragged me whole-heartedly into the realm of Regency Romance and has enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined.

I first discovered this series in high school or college when I swiped it from my mother, who had, in turn, swiped it from my grandmother, and I am overjoyed to be coming back to them now. Their depth and breadth of emotion and action are just what I needed to kickstart me out of my reading slump.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other Reviews in this series:
Book 2 – The Viscount Who Loved Me
Book 3 – An Offer From A Gentleman
Book 4 – Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Book 5 – To Sir Phillip, With Love
Book 6 – When He Was Wicked
Book 7 – It’s In His Kiss (review available on May 14th)
Book 8 – On The Way To The Wedding (review available on May 28th)

Someone to Love (Westcott, #1) – Mary Balogh

Westscott-Someone-To-Love-Mary-Balogh

Source: Goodreads

 

Anna Snow has grown up in an orphanage in Bath, where she now teaches, supported by a mysterious benefactor for as long as she stays. A letter summoning her to London is not only surprising, for she knows no one outside of Bath, but life-shattering when the identity of her benefactor is revealed.

Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, is only Harry Westcott’s guardian because the boy’s father died a year too early. Avery wouldn’t even have taken charge of his nearly grown step-cousin, except that his own father promised to look after Harry in the event of the Earl of Riverdale’s death. With the Earl’s death fresh on everyone’s mind, it strikes Avery as odd that the late Earl’s wife is sending their solicitor on a fool’s errand to find Riverdale’s bastard daughter and tell her that her allowance will be cut off now that her father has died. He likes the plan even less when the solicitor instead drags the girl to London and announces that she is the sole heir to the Earl of Riverdale’s fortune and that Harry and his sisters are the real bastard children.

 

 

The premise of this series is just amazing. The role reversal is definitely unique and interesting to dive into. However, the execution could use some work. I dearly love many of Balogh’s books, but not only does the Westcott series start off with one too many side plots, but the characters all fall kind of flat. I’m hoping this is a single-book-problem like we had with Ben and Samantha in The Escape. Sometimes there’s just too much plot going on for proper character development. Granted, Balogh is just churning out new books in this series, but I would much prefer that the characters were more developed than to have a new book every six months.

 

I loved Anna, I loved Camille, I loved Elizabeth, and I loved Alexander. Avery I had trouble with because of his strange history and the side plot which goes with it that just didn’t work with the rest of the story. His public self and his private self just don’t mesh well together, and it made it impossible for me to really understand him and therefore support the main relationship. Overall, I felt the book put more character development into Camille and Elizabeth than anyone else. I have the second book from the library, so I will let you know if the characters get any better.

 

HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Someone to Hold
Book #3 – Someone to Wed
Book #4 – Someone to Care
Book #5 – Someone to Trust
Book #6 – TBA
Book #7 – TBA
Book #8 – TBA

Cotillion – Georgette Heyer

Cotillion-Georgette-Heyer

Source: ThriftBooks

Kitty Charing is set to inherit the immense fortune of her scrooge of a guardian, a man who adopted her after his childhood friend, Kitty’s father, passed away. There’s only one catch: Miss Charing must marry one of the old man’s great nephews, or the whole of the fortune will be donated and Kitty left penniless when her guardian passes.

 

If you’ve never read a Regency Romance written by Georgette Heyer, go and order one right away. Heyer, the author of over 54 novels, is known primarily as the “inventor” of the Regency Romance subgenre. Unlike Jane Austen, who was technically writing contemporaries because she wrote about the time period in which she herself lived, Georgette Heyer wasn’t even born until 1902, and published her first book in 1921. Her works are unlike the Regency Romances of today in that there are actually very few romantic scenes: the books usually end with a kiss – that’s it. Today’s RR’s are more typically full of heavy romance scenes early on, and then characters dealing with the fallout.

Georgette Heyer’s stories are enveloped in the high society of the 17-1800’s, where one wrong move would get you banned from the London social season (also known as the ‘marriage market’) and ruin your societal standing in a single blow. She is well known for her historical accuracy, often explaining clothing, etiquette, and society for the benefit of the reader in ways that Jane Austen would have taken for granted that her readers understood.

 

What I’m saying is, Georgette Heyer’s Regency Romances are basically the Romantic Comedies of the 1920’s-70’s. Often hysterically funny and filled with character miscommunications, a trip through a Georgette Heyer book is never anything but highly entertaining. It’s no wonder that her books sold well even during the Great Depression.

Cotillion, in particular, is one of my favorites although The Nonesuch, Bath Tangle and Sprig Muslin are close front runners as well.  Some readers may feel they need a dictionary in order to understand the period-specific talk, but it’s actually fairly simple to get the gist of the phrasing, even if you don’t know the actual definition. For example, a ‘dashed ivory-turner’ is another way of calling someone a professional gambler.

In Cotillion, we follow Catherine Charing, who believes she is about to become a wealthy heiress, as well as five of Uncle Matthew’s great nephews, four of whom remain unmarried at the time at which Uncle Matthew makes his announcement that Kitty must marry one of them. The mayhem itself is entertaining, but as always the slow turn of the romance is fascinating to watch. You’re left wondering until the last pages who she will choose to marry, if anyone at all, and in between fending off of various romantic advances, Kitty gets up to some trouble of her own.

Overall I quite enjoyed this book, even if this was my 4th or 5th time reading it. Recommended to anyone who enjoys miscommunication stories and romances.

 

Highlights and Hot Chocolate Rating: 4.5 Stars