To Catch An Heiress
Conversation and dialogue. . . Julia Quinn’s To Catch an Heiress reminded me of a screenplay because the entire book seemed to be a conversation between two or three characters. I’ve been very satisfied with Quinn’s earlier novels, so I was puzzled with my dissatisfaction after reading this one. I flipped through one of her earlier novels to see if it was mostly dialogue — and surprisingly enough, it was! Quinn’s mostly-dialogue style of writing worked in earlier novels because the characters had captured my attention. But this time, the characters and the story itself were too formulaic, so the novel never really took off with my imagination.
Twenty-year-old Caroline Trent is six weeks away from coming in to her sizeable inheritance. After being passed around to one incompetent guardian after another, she is anxious to gain control of her own future. An almost-rape by the son of her current guardian encourages her to hide until her birthday, safe from fortune-hunters and greedy guardians.
Blake Ravenscroft secretly works for England’s War Office, but he’s ready to end his career after losing his long-time partner, lover, and fiancee in the line of duty. Capturing Caroline’s guardian (who happens to be a traitor/smuggler) and evil spy Carlotta De Leon is to be his last mission. Not surprisingly, Blake mistakes Caroline for Carlotta. . .you can probably guess the rest of the plot from there.
Blake and Caroline never jumped out of the pages and into my imagination. As you can see, it was very easy for me to sum up the plot of this story because it is very simple, and very predictable. Quinn throws in a couple of extra characters – Perriwick, the ever-discreet butler, Riverdale, Ravenscroft’s Eton buddy and cohort, and Penelope, Blake’s effervescent sister, but none of them were anything special, or added any unexpected twists to the plot. As for sensuality, I can’t even remember one specific love scene from this novel. I was not wrapped up in the characters or their relationship at all. Therefore, like the dialogue, the sex scenes were flat, and two-dimensional.
To Catch an Heiress is redeemed somewhat by the humor infused by the author. Julia Quinn does come up with some amusing situations. For example, when Blake presses Caroline to speak, she has conveniently coughed herself hoarse – who would ever think to cough all night and render themselves hoarse, just to get out of a few questions? Also, Caroline is forced to sleep in the bathroom at one point, which is definitely out of the ordinary.
While the humor was strong, I never felt attached to the characters of this book. They remained two-dimensional names on the page throughout the entire novel, and since so much of the story is dialogue, I didn’t really enjoy the book. This author has written far better books in the past – I suggest you read one of them instead.