Genre: Historical Romance
(c) June 2010, Avon Books
Julia Quinn's website
Rating: 2 stars
Available at Book Depository (print).
"Good read for light, frothy entertainment at the end of a hard day at work"
Annabel Winslow needed to marry a rich husband in order to provide for her seven brothers and sisters, and her grandparents found a good candidate in the Earl of Newbury. He's rich and titled and...well, rich. He's interested in Annabel, hoping she'd provide him with the necessary heir because he didn't want the earldom to fall to his younger and more pleasing-of-visage-and-form nephew, Sebastian Grey, whom he disliked from the time of the younger man's birth.
However, Annabel found a kindred spirit in Sebastian whom everyone had taken to warn her was poor, and so she was torn as to which man she should choose, provided either or both made her a proposal...
Ten Things I Love About You is a fun, lighthearted romance, with the trademark Julia Quinn humor in the characters' observations and dialogue.
Sebastian Grey is the usual rougish hero, with lovers left and right, but with a penchant for laughter. He also has his own code of honor in that he didn't hit older men and he didn't seduce debutantes, but he found himself captivated by Annabel, with her form, her wit, her humor and eventually, he realized he'd found a kindred spirit in her. And I like this. Too many times we're told by the authors that the main characters are soulmates, that they're destined to be together but we're rarely shown how the characters came to that conclusion. Back to Sebastian, he also struck me as a sensitive kind of guy, the kind who love books and the written word, which he did. His banter with Annabel was fun to read, the result of his natural cheerful mien, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at times.
Annabel Winslow is a courageous young lady who's caught between a rock and a hard place and trying to do right by her family. Like all women in her time, she has limited options, well, it seems like her only option here is to marry the right man. Right being rich enough to help her family's financial woes. Now, I wonder. Is marriage really the only option for her? Couldn't she have become a governess? Wouldn't that earn her enough money to help her family?
Sebastian was a bit different from other heroes in that he didn't act all caveman-like and protective when it seemed Annabel needed rescuing. He was even reluctant, though he was attracted to Annabel. I find that reaction fresh and realistic, and I like it. After all, he didn't know her very well yet at that point. But once he realized he wanted her, he pursued her with single-minded intent and acquired the aforementioned caveman-like protective and territorial instincts. And that's so exciting to read as well.
The only flaw I saw in this story was that, since Annabel's maternal grandparents were a viscount and a viscountess (Annabel's mother married beneath her, I believe, and her grandparents never approved) and they have connections in Society, why couldn't they have found Annabel a better man to marry? Why the Earl of Newbury, who's as old as her grandparents, and who had been her grandmother's lover besides? That her grandmother would even think of foisting Annabel on an old flame is something I find unacceptable. Unless that's what they do in those times?
Annabel isn't ugly either. No, she's well-endowed and as Sebastian said, no man would see her and not think of seduction. Her grandparents shouldn't have to settle for the Earl of Newbury, as I don't think it would've been hard to marry Annabel off. Moreover, even if the grandparents were still angry at Annabel's mother and weren't inclined to throw their granddaughter a ball, they were invited to other parties. Surely, Annabel could've found a better match there. Were all the other gentlemen in Society at that time blind or already married?
Of course, if there were other gentlemen suitors, then there wouldn't be this particular conflict and the story would've been different.
This book is a good read if you're looking for light, frothy entertainment at the end of a hard day at work. However, since the foundation of the plot is a bit shaky, I cannot, in all fairness, give this a high rating. So, the final rating I gave is "2".