Thursday, September 20, 2007

I finished reading... An Offer from a Gentleman

An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

The Bridgerton family is wealthy, well born, and universally admired. And with six of the eight Bridgerton children already mingling with society, it's no wonder they're mentioned so frequently in the most popular (and accurate) source of social news, Lady Whistledown's Society Papers. But not even the mysterious Lady Whistledown can identify the masked maiden who completely captivated the Bridgerton second son, Benedict, at his mother's masquerade ball -- a silver-clad beauty who vanished on the stroke of midnight. It was a magical night for Sophie Beckett, orphaned, illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Penwood. Attending the ball was a beautiful dream, sharing the evening with Benedict Bridgerton was the stuff of fantasy -- and returning home to her role as unpaid servant to her father's cruel widow and stepdaughters was a nightmare. Then she lost even the small security of that position, and things went from bad to worse. By the time Sophie met Benedict again, she was in truly desperate straits. He made her feel precious, even in rags, but Sophie had grave reservations about accepting.
I really enjoyed this addition to the Bridgerton family saga. At last, I had characters who didn't have to marry because the woman had been compromised, and in fact, it looked like they wouldn't be able to marry at all for most of the book.

Despite it probably being inappropriate for a modern woman to say so, the whole Cinderella-story works for me. And this is very clearly a telling of the Cinderella story, complete with an evil stepmother, stepsisters and a suitably handsome prince in Benedict. At the same time, Quinn doesn't let the fairy-tale direction of her story overcome the setting she has chosen to use.

The title comes from Benedict's not-exactly-honourable offer to Sophie that she become his mistress. Not perhaps what one immediately wants in a romantic hero, but given their positions and the society they live in, exactly what a gentleman in his position would do. Sophie's reasons for refusing are sensible and certain and the story unfolds as they try to find their own balance and resolution.

Of course, there is a happy ending. Perhaps the way it comes about is a little too pat, but not by much. I can easily imagine Violet Bridgerton "convincing" Sophie's stepmother to do pretty much anything she wished, and the hero and heroine are engaging to the reader, so that I wanted them to get their happy ever after in true fairy tale fashion.

A fun read.

An Offer From a Gentleman
Bridgertons, Book 3
Julia Quinn

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