Since it’s February and Valentine’s Day is coming up, I will be checking out some more romance novels. And I feel like Because of Miss Bridgerton is a good place to start. I actually put this book on my to-read list in October when I was voting for the Goodreads Choice Awards (see this blogpost). I voted for this book in the romance section because of the cover and intriguing back cover. I really thought it would be a good book, which is why I also put it on my to-read list. After having read it, I’m happy with my vote. It didn’t win though, it came sixth in the genre with 18.671 votes while the winner got 59.546 votes (discover all the Goodreads Choice Awards results here).
Julia Quinn is a very experienced romance novel writer and has been writing full-time since she sold her first book at age 24. She is a best-selling historical romance author with fourteen consecutive New York Times bestsellers to her name. She has been inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame and her books have been translated into 29 languages (so far). She has won several awards for her Regency romances and in the US alone, there are over 10 million copies of her books in print. After finding out all of this, I’m almost ashamed to admit this is the first novel of hers that I’ve read.
This book is the first one in a new series she’s started: The Rokesbys. The second one should be coming out on May 30th 2017 by the way. Any way, this first one serves as a kind of bridge between her Bridgertons series and this new one. Billie Bridgerton is a tomboy who has lived right next door to the Rokesby family with their three sons all her life. The younger brothers Edward and Andrew are her best friends and she has always thought she would end up marrying one of them, as they did as well. The eldest brother George was a few years older, a lot more serious and being groomed to take over the earldom eventually so they never really crossed paths. When they did, the serious and studious George did not know how to handle tomboyish and outspoken Billie – at the same time he was jealous of his carefree siblings and the way they were just out having fun – so he would look down on them.
It’s clear from the early start that Billie and George don’t hold each other in high regards. Billie thinks George doesn’t like her and she in turn does not appreciate his arrogant and annoying ways. He is exasperated and annoyed by her and is more focused on being responsible and doing what he is supposed to do. But then she needs him. Billie is walking through the countryside when she spots a cat in a tree. Naturally, the only thing for the carefree Billie to do is take the ladder to climb up on the roof of the barn to get the frightened cat out of the tree. Unfortunately, the cat scratches her during the rescue mission, making her fall from the tree unto the barn roof, hurt her ankle and get stuck. So she decides to wait there, hoping someone will come by to help her. Naturally, George walks by a little later and after debating with herself, she decides it’s worth the ridicule to get off the roof so she calls him for help. George is baffled once again by Billie after she’es explained what happened, but being the responsible adult that he is, he gets up onto the roof to help her down. But then the cat interferes again, so that the ladder falls down and now they’re both stuck on the roof.
This is the first time that the two of them have spent any real alone time together so they decide to talk a little bit about everything and nothing. It’s clear again that they don’t really like each other because they are polar opposites. When George’s younger brother happens upon them a while later, he gets them down but being hurt from the war himself, it falls to George to carry Billie (and her hurt ankle) home. They talk some more on the way and a grudging respect forms. Over the next few days, the two of them spent more time together since George has come home again and Billie is always over at his house anyway. And this is when their love starts to blossom: they slowly and generally start to like each other more and more – a fact which they are both surprised by. A house party forces Billie into a dress – which has a big and unexpected impact on George, leading to a kiss – and a family emergency takes the two of them to London.
I liked this romance novel because it was much more believable and realistic than most – in my opinion. I have trouble believing in the love/lust at first sight that so many romance novels support on. The hero and heroine seeing each other, one or the both of them instantly falling in love and they then spend the entire book fighting their attraction to each other until they can’t anymore. The love story of George and Billie started much more slowly. Billie planned to marry on of George’s brothers when she was truly ready – which she wasn’t yet, by a long shot. George expected Billie to do the same thing, and he was actually starting to look for a genteel and well-bred lady to match his standing. The feelings that developed between them came slowly and easily due to them finding out that they did have things in common with each other and liking the things that made them different.
There was also none of that typical tension brought on by miscommunication. When Billie thought George might be interested in another woman, she immediately confronts him and they talk it out. The only time when they didn’t come right out and say it, was when they both realised that they loved each other. And in this situation, I can understand that very much. She intended on marrying his brother, as everyone in town, their families and even the brothers themselves thought. And before the time she tried to save that cat, George had never looked at her in that way either. So for both of them, it required a big change of mind. And let’s be honest: admitting you love someone is never easy, certainly not when you know you’re going against what people expect and when you’re not sure how they feel.
Another pro: there was a lot of sexual tension, but they didn’t jump into bed with each other immediately. Because George was such a responsible man, a few years older than Billie, and not used to seeing her in such a way- he never pressured her to have sex with him. Yes they kissed, yes they exchanged longing looks, but they took their time before diving into bed together. This fitted with Billie’s independent personality, her virginity and the fact that she also never saw George (or any other man) in that way. Thumbs up for a normal, sexual progression in a slowly developing relationship.
In conclusion, I really liked Quinn’s romance novel in that it didn’t contain your typical romance cliches and because I thought the blossoming romance was much more realistic than normal. I would recommend it to every fan of the genre looking for something a little different (but just as delicious!) and also to someone with less experience of the genre to dip their toe in.