Desert Isle Keeper
A DIKlassic review!
(originally published on January 25, 1997)
Splendid is a splendidly, witty, wicked, and sexy read. I liken Splendid to Seinfeld. Just as Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, and George can spend a half hour entertaining us while doing essentially nothing, Julia Quinn”s debut novel is a delightful romp with very little in the way of story-line. There’s a touch of I Love Lucy thrown in for good measure, and some steamy love scenes. But there”s not much to get in the way of the romance between surprisingly well-adjusted characters and their non-dysfunctional ways.
Julia Quinn”s debut romance relates the tale of American heiress Emma Dunster and Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne. She is a feisty, red-haired beauty whose American sensibilities are like a breath of fresh air in Regency London. He is a green-eyed, dark-haired rake with a reputation as an incredible lover.
They meet when he mistakes her for a maid and steals a kiss. When he discovers his mistake, his decision to teach her a lesson starts us on a mad-cap series of interludes that will have you laughing out loud at one moment and needing a cold shower in the next. There is one scene in particular that had me grabbing a box of Depends. I”ve read it several times and it never fails to bring on hysterical laughter. If you can read the dinner scene and keep a straight face, you must be dead.
Julia Quinn”s flair for dialogue is apparent, although sticklers of historical accuracy might have trouble getting past the ”90”s vernacular. And, those that require meaty plot-lines might not appreciate the lack of action here. But this reviewer was never bored. How could I be? I was too busy laughing and fanning myself!
What a breath of fresh air to read a book in which the hero is not particularly tortured! There is no major conflict going on, although Emma certainly does involve herself in several scrapes that require the intervention of her harried hero. Without plot, without conflict, what does this book offer, you ask?
- The growing relationship between Emma and Alex, which starts out at a fevered pitch as it is, and continues to grow and grow
- An incredible friendship between Emma and her beautiful cousin Belle that is better than any other friendship between women I have read in a romance
- A delightfully platonic friendship between Emma and man-about-town Dunford (who finally gets a story of his own in Minx)
- The funnily scheming and plotting relatives of both Alex and Emma who just know these two belong with each other
While there is no intense conflict here, Emma and Alex are involved in one major misunderstanding, which involves Emma in a pair of breeches, tree-climbing at night, and some collusion between Alex and the plotting relatives to purposely “ruin” Emma and force her to marry Alex. All of this is hilariously handled, and includes a very sexy love scene to boot!
Best of all, this book is filled (mostly) with nice people. People who truly care for one another and will do silly things to add others to their fold of friendship and love. Alex”s sister and Belle become quite spirited match-makers. Dunford, who is no weenie, allows himself to get caught up in Emma”s Lucy-like antics like a sort of buffed Fred. And Belle”s parents, while seeming as staid and proper as you would imagine them to be, are not at all “out-of-it” old fogies.
This book has earned a spot on my all-time favorite shelf as both a Favorite Funny and a Luscious Love Story. I have an extra copy that I lend out when I want to introduce a non-reader to the genre, and it has never failed to snare a new reader. If you are looking for a funny and sexy romp that offers a change of pace from angst and tortuous plot twists, scour the bookstores and find a copy of Splendid. Your time spent will be nothing less than. . . splendid!