As a relatively newly emboldened romance reader I have been attempting to expand my horizons. With a steady supply of suggestions there have been plenty of options for me. After happily reading Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I, I made sure to request The Viscount Who Loved Me from the library. I hadn’t been overly impressed with Anthony Bridgerton, head of the Bridgerton family and eldest of eight siblings. Mostly because while his overprotective treatment of his sister Daphne felt appropriate to the 1813 setting of the book, I couldn’t make peace with the terrible way he treated his supposed best friend, Simon. But, Quinn has a way with words and specifically with family dynamics and interactions so I was willing to give this book a fair shake (and it wasn’t hurt by my need to read a series in order).
The Viscount Who Loved Me finds us a year later, and the 1814 Season is well underway. The Sheffield sisters have made their debut the same year, with Kate taking the wallflower position in regards to her younger, more beautiful, sister. When Anthony Bridgerton starts sniffing around, Kate decides to do everything in her power to keep this infamous rake away from her sister who deserves to have a love match, even if Kate and their mother are hoping for a financially advantageous match to help alleviate their situation. Anthony has decided to finally marry this Season, but purely for the production of an heir. You see, he believes that sine his father and paternal uncle both died in their thirties that he is destined to do the same. Therefore, an advantageous, but loveless marriage is deemed to be the solution to his limited years. It would simply be too difficult to have to leave a true love behind.
Where I have seen other reviewers dinging the book and the character of Anthony it has been on this count. While it made for occasionally boring reading (we cover the same ground with Anthony several times) it is a believable hang-up, even if his solution seemed odd to me. My bigger problem is this: if Anthony is so convinced of his impending death (in 9 years or less) why not just remain a bachelor and let his brother Benedict inherit the title and his future progeny would inherit the estate/title? I know this is a historical romance novel and therefore marriage almost MUST be on the table, but couldn’t the setup have been Benedict on the marriage hunt and Anthony caught off guard and falling for Kate that way? Regardless, the set up kept me annoyed at Anthony more than it ingratiated me to him.
My other major complaint is that for the second book in a row in the series (of which I am only two books in) the lead couple is forced to marry after being caught in a compromising position. Again, I can see why from a writer’s perspective this would be a useful trick to keep the timelines moving given both Simon and Anthony’s backstories, but it felt like overly familiar territory.
Happily I can report that there were things which did work for me – basically anytime Anthony or Kate’s families appeared on page. Both group dynamics were handled expertly and I believe that this is Quinn’s true gift as a writer (although with such a small pool to choose from I could be jumping the gun on that regard). But even here I have a niggling concern… the aforementioned Benedict. He is the next Bridgerton in the series and we know nothing about him. With the amount of time third brother Colin spent on page this book, and the last, I was expecting book three to be his. But no, Quinn is diving into the story of Benedict. And I will be along for the ride, as I’ve already requested the book from the library for next month. But I remain cautiously optimistic.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.