Book/Author and Year Published: Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn (2010)
Age/Genre: Period Romance
Preferred Reading Environment: A comfy couch in your informal living room.
Reading Accoutrements: Tea, sherry, or brandy…depending on who you want to be that day.
Content Notes: Sexual assault, objectification, and Gross creepy old people trying to marry off (sell) a young lady to other gross creepy old people…
I really enjoy Julia Quinn’s period romances, and when I get a chance to pick one up I’ll usually do it, but this time I was Extra Super Incredibly Excited (yes, with all caps) because the title is Ten Things I Love About You, which is a play off of my favorite movie of all time (Ten Things I Hate About You, for those of you unaware of the best parts of ’90s culture). Anyway, I was also intrigued by this book because the description on the back of the book is actually “Ten Things You Should Know About This Book” and just the back cover is amusing. Let me tell you about the book so you can draw your own conclusions…
Annabel Winslow is under a lot of pressure to have a successful first season in London. Her father died a year ago and money is a constant struggle with nine mouths to feed (that’s right, her parents had EIGHT children) and no bread winner. Annabel’s maternal grandparents offered to pay for a season in London, so that Annabel could marry a man who would take care of her family. Why aren’t they simply helping the family out directly, you ask? They didn’t like the man their daughter married (he was a businessman, not nobility) and they’re petty…
Anyway, Annabel has a prospect in one of her grandparents’ old friends, the Earl of Newbury, whose only son suddenly died, leaving Newbury without an heir. Lord Newbury desperately wants an heir, but he’s had terrible luck with finding a wife – probably because he’s an old, fat, lecherous windbag. Annabel doesn’t particularly like Newbury, but he is probably her best chance at finding a match this season, considering that she is a countrybred miss with a very small dowry.
Enter Sebastian Gray, a very handsome rogue and former soldier who is fascinated by Annabel from the moment she trips over him at a ball. Sebastian lives in a sort of limbo – he could inherit an Earldom and the accompanying fortune if his uncle (Guess who! That’s right – Newbury!) dies without an heir, but if his uncle does get an heir, Sebastian will be a mere mister with no fortune to speak of. Newbury hates Sebastian – speculation says it’s because Sebastian is more handsome and charming than the Earl – and is fighting with everything he has to get a legitimate heir before he dies. Still, Sebastian is invited to all of the important parties until his fate is determined; no one wants to snub a potential future Earl, after all. In the meantime, he dallies with married ladies and widows and secretly writes gothic romances for income.
(For those of you who have read any of Julia Quinn’s other period romances, you might remember Mrs. Sarah Gorely, the mysterious author of Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron and other silly gothic novels that are a source of amusement for the characters in Julia Quinn’s books. Several times, characters speculate on Mrs. Gorely – who she is, where she is from, etc. Well, now we know why no one can find Mrs. Gorely: she is a persona for the real author, Sebastian Gray, to hide behind! I’ve been dying for this story for a while and I’m so glad I finally found it…Oops! Sorry…tangent…)
Sebastian and Annabel can relate to each other, but Newbury hates Sebastian and their friendship threatens Annabel’s future and the future of her family.
This book takes a lot of twists and turns and it would take all day to explain all of the plot points, but suffice it to say that I really simplified this story for the sake of the review. There are so many engaging characters and the writing kept me engaged throughout. I was especially thrilled to discover that the “Ten Things” style from the back of the book was present in the book itself!
There was just one part that made me cringe. I can’t give it away without spoilers, but I will say that Annabel’s life starts to seem like one of Sebastian’s gothic novels for a moment there. Although, while I was cringing, I was also giggling my head off – seriously, my roommate asked me what was so funny and I couldn’t explain it because I was laughing too much.
While Ten Things I Love About You doesn’t really take any of the plot of my favorite movie (or Taming of the Shrew, which is the source of the plot for Ten Things I Hate About You), I was not disappointed that I picked this book up. Have you ever read a book that defied your expectations in a good way?