Ten Things I Love About You
Each time I read a Julia Quinn romance, I’m puzzled by the fact that I have read so few. Out of her twenty full length books, Ten Things I Love About You is only my fourth. But, as I slip into another of her books, it doesn’t take long for me to recall her unique style of humor and ability to write truly likable leads.
Annabel Winslow has lived a happy life in the country but, with the death of her father, her family is in desperate need of funds. As the oldest of eight, she moves to London where her grandmother plans to “clean her up” and get her married. The most promising prospect is Lord Newbury, an aging earl looking for a young wife to provide him with an heir. Annabel’s big hips seem to be adequate proof that she can carry such an important person to full term.
Sebastian Grey is very careful to hide his identity as the author of a number of successful Gothic novels. Although he’s known as a handsome, roguish, good-tempered sort of man, he’s more likely to be remembered as the nephew and heir to the Earl of Newbury, a man who hates him. The earl is quite determined to do whatever it takes to keep the title from passing to him. Regardless, Sebastian is invited everywhere as the possible future earl and his charming manner tends to make people forget he has little else to offer. He truly doesn’t care if the earldom ever comes his way, although he does admit that the money would be extremely convenient.
Annabel is more or less resigned to marrying the earl, although she’s horrified at the thought and considers him quite an awful man. Attempting to hide from him one night while attending a party, she literally stumbles upon Sebastian and before they part they’ve shared a rather passionate kiss – at her request. When Annabel discovers his identity, she is quite distressed and refuses to provide her name in return. Things are much too precarious to be found kissing any man – especially Lord Newbury’s hated nephew.
Seeing Sebastian the very next day while walking in the park, Annabel once again attempts to hide her true identity. However, it doesn’t take Sebastian long to recognize her as the mysterious lady from the night before and he can’t resist lightly teasing her since it is obvious that his presence distresses her. Before Annabel can think twice, plans are made for both to attend the opera with a group of friends that night, setting the stage for a showdown between Sebastian and Lord Newbury. Rapidly the story’s pace picks up.
Sebastian is a man with a forgiving nature and one of the most congenial heroes I’ve encountered in some time. Beta all the way, he still has a reputation with the ladies and is, in a word, ornery. Annabel ranks high as a completely pleasant heroine as well. The conversations between Sebastian and Annabel are particularly delightful and being privy to Sebastian’s thoughts makes for some highly entertaining moments. As in the previous Quinn books I’ve read, witty dialogue and subtle humor rule the day.
Secondary characters play a good deal into the plot. Harry and Olivia, leads from What Happens in London, have a significant presence and I can’t help but think that others, such as Annabel’s cousin Louisa and Sebastian’s cousin Edward, have “future romance lead” written on their resumes.
Lord Newbury and his hatred of Sebastian is the book’s greatest weakness. It could be argued that the earl is eaten up with jealousy and bitterness over the loss of his son, but his actions remain over the top. To sum it up – he’s too mean and full of revenge to be realistic.
Ten Things I Love About You is a light read, almost falling into the fluff category. Sebastian’s fight with PTSD from his war experiences, while moving, seems out of place and his uncle’s hatred only gives the story a melodramatic air. However, if you’re looking for a fun, quick read over the summer, this one fits the bill quite nicely.