Review: A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

Friday, May 11, 2012
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: romance novel-ish, historical fiction
Series: The Smythe-Smith Quartet #2
Pages: 389 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: expected May 29 2012
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is…

But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge — in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger…

But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…

Much like the first in the series, Just Like Heaven, this is a charming and easy read. The Smythe-Smith Quartet is shaping up nicely to become a must-read - which is something that doesn't often happen for me with this type of romance novelish book. A Night Like This is a light-hearted and thoroughly charming novel with two very likeable and compatible leads in Daniel and Anne (and scene-stealers in Frnaces, Elizabeth and Harriet.) There's much more than steamy sex scenes to look forward to in this - there's comedy aplenty (I admit I lol'd at the play chapter especially) and plenty of action and danger to keep the pages turning with alacrity. 

I freely admit don't read a ton of romance novels - I have nothing against them, but on the whole, every reader goes into that genre of novel generally knowing the final outcome: love, sex and a happy ending. What makes it fun to read these type of books are the authors who take the time to create whole, rounded characters and a real plot to keep things advancing instead of just sex scene after sex scene. I don't/can't/won't care about the sex if I am not emotionally invested in the people having it! Julia Quinn is one of those rare authors, which is why I have found myself completely wrapped up in everything in this novel.  There is am emphasis on the romance (instalove ahoy), but I didn't mind in this book, with these two. Thankfully, both Anne and Daniel are both flawed, amusing, wholly believable, personable characters with motivations and secrets of their own. They complement each other very well and have chemistry to burn but they are not utterly dependent on the other. Anne is a resourceful and smart girl that can save herself - and does on several occasions. Daniel's chacterization is a bit more typical of a young, honorable lord but his sense of humor and interactions with Miss Wynter show a more rounded version of the Earl.

I can't talk about characters in A Night Like This without mentioning the unexpected and utterly hilarious trio of girls that Anne is governess for: Frances, the unicorn-loving youngest, the middle-child Elizabeth, constantly caught between propriety and annoying her older sister, and Harriet, the earnest young playwright behind such classics as The Strange, Sad Tale of The Lord Who Was Not Finstead. Anne and Daniel are more than compelling to read about with their interwoven tales of revenge and mystery, but it is the three Pleinsworth cousins who truly make this as light-hearted and humorous as it is. Several times during their appeareances I would actually laugh-out-loud (thank you, Frances.) The cast of this novel is really the biggest attraction to he had - moreso than the slightly predictable plot, or even than the genuinely sweet romance angle of the two main leads, the large, clangorous and musically-impaired Smythe-Smith family is just plain fun to read about.

This is only the second of the series, and my imagination is already at work trying to predict the main leads for the third novel. Hugh Prentice and Sarah? Harriet? While it's a bit early to tell just now, you can be sure that I will be stalking GoodReads, waiting for the next book to pop up with information. Julia Quinn has an easy, inimitable style and her novels are an amusing way to pass an afternoon, but rewarding at the same time. With each novel of this author's that I read, I am more and more inclined to buy another. Fans of her Bridgerton series as well as of the first book will find more of the same here easy humor and steamy sexy scenes in A Night Like This.

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