What Happens in London (Bevelstoke, #2) by Julia Quinn
Series: Bevelstoke #2
Also in this series: Ten Things I Love About You (Bevelstoke, #3)
Publication Date: June 30th 2009
Genres: Historical Romance
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RUMORS AND GOSSIP ... THE LIFEBLOOD OF LONDON
When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancee, she doesn't believe it for a second, but, still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure? So she stakes out a spot near her bedroom window, cleverly concealed by curtains, watches, and waits ... and discovers a most intriguing man, who is definitely up to something.
Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious. But just when he decides that she's nothing more than an annoyingly nosy debutante, he discovers that she might be engaged to a foreign prince, who might be plotting against England. And when Harry is roped into spying on Olivia, he discovers that he might be falling for her himself ...
I have a confession to make. Although I enjoyed Olivia’s character in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (the prequel to this book) as Miranda’s best friend, I didn’t really think she was heroine material. She was enjoyable, but I didn’t latch onto her and think, “I can’t wait to read her book”. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong not to be excited for this story. It turned out to be wonderful.
Based on the last book I thought Olivia was amusing, but she seemed to be missing something. Some indefinable thing that didn’t make me dislike her but didn’t make her stand out as heroine material either. I was happy to see that JQ really bit into her character, however, and gave her a bit more depth than we previously saw.
Olivia is whiling away another London Season – bored out of her mind – when she hears that her new neighbor, Sir Harry Valentine, possibly murdered his fiance. While she doesn’t believe this for a minute – really, she doesn’t – she is curious about her new neighbor. And if her bedroom window just so happened to face directly into his study – where he spends almost all of his time – then she can hardly be blamed for noticing, can she? And if she happens to stand there spying on him for five days, well, that’s hardly her fault either.
Because although she doesn’t believe for one moment that Sir Harry is a murderer, there is something very suspicious about his character. He spends an inordinate amount of time in his study, bent over what appears to be some type of document. He rushes to the fireplace on several occasions and burns things. And he even walks around wearing some very strange type of hat, almost as if he’s in disguise!
Although Sir Harry Valentine has finished serving his commission, he still does some work for the war office – mostly translating documents. Despite the fact that he prefers texts to espionage, he can’t help but be suspicious about why his neighbor – the daughter of an Earl – has been spying on him for 5 days. He’s just about to jump on his desk and start dancing around – just to annoy her – when he makes the mistake of looking up at her window at the wrong time, catching her watching him.
The war office asks Harry to keep an eye on a visiting Russian Prince they suspect of being a Bonaparte supporter. It just so happens the Prince is an admirer of Olivia, and therefore Harry is charged with watching out for her as well. Although they start off on a rocky note, it isn’t long before they come to like each other.
I thought this was a really sweet, fun novel. After my disappointment in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, I wasn’t sure I’d like this one. I needn’t have worried. JQ is at her best here. The dialogue is crisp, the banter witty and both characters are fun and very likable.
I liked how they got to know each other slowly while spending time together. Reading awful Gothic novels together, discussing politics and bantering back and forth. I actually felt I got to see them fall in love, rather than just being told they had.
The secondary characters really added extra zing to the story. Harry’s best friend Sebastian and the Russian Prince particularly stood out for me. There were scenes involving them where I was literally laughing out loud.
I had some issues with Harry’s backstory. His father was an alcoholic, but seeing how he grew up (quite a bit of time is spent watching Harry grow up in the beginning of the book) didn’t really seem to serve a purpose. I didn’t see that Harry was really scarred by the actions of his father. Other than his refusal to drink he seemed mostly unaffected. So I’m not sure why JQ spent so much time in his past.
I also thought the end was a bit on the cheesy side. It was cute, don’t get me wrong, but it just crossed the line into “too cute”. I was also disappointed that Miranda wasn’t present in this book. The relationship between the girls was so strong in the previous novel I expected it to carry over here. Although the reasons for that were mentioned, I was surprised we didn’t see any interaction between them at all.
Overall a cute, well written novel. I highly enjoyed both main characters and the journey they took together. This book reminded me why Julia Quinn is a master at light, witty romances.
4.25 out of 5
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