Title: The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton #2)
Author: Julia Quinn
Year of Publication: 2000
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Regency Romance
New or Re-Read?: re-read oh, so many times
Rating: 5 extra-shiny stars
I love, love, love, love, love this book. It’s one of my favourite romances of all time. So, be forewarned — This is a gushing review.
This book is really where JQ hits her stride as a writer — it’s entirely without the flaws of some of her earlier books. Anthony and Kate are delightful in every way. Stubborn, proud people, who absolutely do not intend to fall in love with each other — which makes watching them do so is such a thrill. Their banter is magnificent — I’m a sucker for quick wits and snappy repartee, and Anthony and Kate do not disappoint. They’re just magnificent in their bull-headed opposition, and then they way they have to come to trust each other is beautiful. They go from hate to milder antagonism to friendship to love. I adore them.
Not without cause is JQ called our modern Jane Austen — she has the talent for it, and this book in particular owes a debt to Pride and Prejudice, as its hero and heroine fall victim to those sins. But, they overcome them. I don’t think it’s any accident that the heroine is called Kate, either — the book contains a fair few subtle allusions to The Taming of the Shrew as well (my particular favourite being a reference to Kate wearing an unbecoming cap — it’s sly, but I can’t think it’s a coincidence). JQ makes the tropes quite her own, though, through the quick, witty language and the overwhelming passion that Anthony and Kate feel for each other. She also gives both hero and heroine touching points of vulnerability. Kate and Anthony both want, so much, to be so strong, all the time, for everyone around them. This is probably among the reasons I feel such strong affinity for them both, as it’s an imperative I feel quite often myself. In order to find love and happiness, they both have to learn to put their shields aside and let the other in, learning that, yes, letting yourself love someone, and letting that person love and trust you in return, can be horribly painful and deeply frightening — but, ultimately, it’s worth it.
Here again, of course, you get a good dose of the Bridgerton family as well. Brothers Benedict and Colin put in a good showing, and then Daphne and Simon (of The Duke and I) show up for a game of Pall Mall — that scene is one of my favourites, not just in this book but in all of romance novels, and was the cause of several long-standing jokes when I was younger between myself and other friends who had read the book. (Fear the Mallet of Death, Gentle Readers). Other memorable scenes include Anthony rescuing dear Penelope Featherington, the wedding, the thunderstorm, and the infamous Bee Incident. In so many places, this book is laugh-out-loud funny, but it also has some gorgeous, tender moments, too. It’s a perfect balance.
And, too, this book has Lady Whistledown giving her incisive commentary on events. I think she’s at her best in this book, too — Certainly more of my favourite quotes of hers come from Viscount rather than the other novels. One of the best:
“Men are contrary creatures. Their heads and their hearts are never in agreement, and as women know all too well, their actions are usually governed by a different aspect altogether.”
—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, 29 April 1814
And, once again, it’s fascinating to read this in retrospect, knowing her identity now. You can really see the interweaving of the real person and the persona, how events influence her writing. It’s an excellent bit of cleverness from JQ, and one that can really only be appreciated in retrospect.
Overall — I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about it, which is often far from the case even with books I thoroughly enjoy. But this one is just spot-on in my opinion. I’ll leave you with another of my favourite quotes from the book, which quite sums up my own opinions as well:
“Contrary to popular opinion, This Author is aware that she is viewed as something of a cynic.
But that, Dear Reader, could not be further from the truth. This Author likes nothing better than a happy ending. And if that makes her a romantic fool, then so be it.”
– Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, 15 June 1814