To Sir Phillip, With Love, by Julia Quinn

>> Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I'd been looking forward to reading To Sir Phillip, With Love, by Julia Quinn, and I wasn't disappointed. An A-.

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except… she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her…and more.

Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn't marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking…and wondering… and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except…he wasn't. Her perfect husband wouldn't be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled…and when he kissed her…the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn't help but wonder…could this imperfect man be perfect for her?
This was darker than usual for a Julia Quinn book, and I liked the result very much. TSPWL joins The Viscount Who Loved Me as my 2 favourite Bridgerton books.

As I said, the tone was more serious than in other titles, though I've never considered that Quinn writes fluff at all. Her humour and wit might make it seem that way, but if you think about it a bit you realize her characters are well drawn and that she explores some deep issues and does it very well, only with a light hand. And when I say "light hand" I mean it as the opposite of "heavy hand", not that all this was done "lightly".

Anyway, TSPWL had a different tone but it didn't lack humour at all. The best thing was the romance itself, which I'd found not that good in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Here, it was wonderfully satisfying.

I loved Eloise. She was the sensible spinster sort, but not one of those heroines who claim they never want to marry. She simply never found the right guy, so at 28 she suddenly realizes that she's alone and with no realistic prospects. At 25, I'm definitely not there yet, but I identify with her feelings, to some extent. I also liked the way her ambiguous feelings about her friend Penelope marrying Colin were dealt with.

Her interactions with Phillip's kids were hilarious and sweet. So they play a trick on her? She plays a worse trick on them. Heh-heh, I like this more because of the revenge element than because of how educational it was (I haven't a motherly bone in my body, I know).

As for Phillip, oohhh! I loved the guy. I could understand his issues better than, say, Anthony's, for all that I loved his book. I liked the way he was portrayed as a guy who was confused and unsure about what he should do. I just prefer a hero like that to one of those larger-than-life alphas, never a doubt in their heads that their way is the right way, and that any opinion the heroine ventures is worthless. I found the way he latched on to Eloise, practically the minute she arrived, very sweet. He definitely needed the happiness and fun she brought into his life.

I am of two minds about that scene where Phillip gets so angry because Eloise is dissatisfied with what they have together, something that to him is paradise. On one hand, the scene had plenty of that stomach-clenching emotion I like so much. On the other, however, I didn't think it was very healthy that Eloise not be allowed to discuss grounds for improvement of their relationship with her husband. The problem is that I didn't feel this was solved by the end of the book... I'm not sure that Phillip won't react in a similar way the next time Eloise comes to him and wants to have a "talk".

There were 2 elements that bothered me in this book. First, I couldn't stand the scenes with the 4 Bridgerton brothers coming to find their sister. They simply reeked with that protective, male superiority attitude I hate so much. Oh, aren't they sweet, so protective of their sister, not even stopping to listen to her before they beat Phillip up? Well, no, they're jerks, IMO. I just found them incredibly boorish, especially that scene where they are sitting around getting drunk and talking about that barmaid's tits. Idiot men!

Second, Eloise's whole scheme of running away in the middle of the night, leaving only a little note for her mother was idiotic! This was an intelligent woman, wouldn't she have arranged something so that her family wasn't worried? This seemed to me to have been done only to have an excuse for her brothers to come chasing after her and forcing her to marry. Come on, there were better ways to do that without making our heroine act so out of character. I don't know, Eloise setting up a fake visit to a friend's house and her family finding out the truth by some coincidence?

Still, I liked the love story (which was hotter than expected, too!) so much that I'm prepared to overlook little annoyances like those. How long until the next Bridgerton comes out?

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