Review: Romancing Mr Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

And which is the Mr Bridgerton of this novel? Why Colin, of course. With his older brothers Anthony and Benedict having both made unlikely but successful matches, the author turns her attention to the next Bridgerton brother. Several years have passed since the events of An Offer From a Gentleman. Colin has spent much of that time travelling, and has absolutely no desire to settle down and find a wife--in spite of the fact that his mother is very keen to marry him off. Meanwhile, there is a young lady who he sees only as a friend who has been secretly in love with him for twelves years--and this lady is none other than shy, awkward wallflower, Penny Fetherington.

Fans of Bridgerton will no doubt already been familiar with this character. Although she started off as a very minor part of the series, her character has, through each book become more and more important. She is portrayed as the nicest of the Fatherington family, and friendly with the Bridgertons, in particular Eloise. Violet seems to have some sympathy for Penelope, always insisting that one Bridgerton brother or another (usually a reluctant Colin,) dance with her on every social occasion. Anthony has come to her rescue when another socialite tried to embarrass her. However, an incident that occurred in An Offer From a Gentleman (which is recapped in this novel,) demonstrates that Colin is either distinctly not interested in her, or he's hidden his feelings well and his older brothers know it and cannot resist teasing him. Meanwhile, the same incident--where Penelope overhears Benedict teasing Colin--shows that the character may be smarter, and have a lot more depth than readers had been led to believe.

Anyway, Romancing Mr Bridgerton opens several years after the events of An Offer From a Gentleman. Penelope is by now considered a spinster; Colin has no intention of marrying anyone, despite Violet's wishes to see him married. Meanwhile, Lady Dunbury has realised something that many of the other characters do not--that Penelope has a lot of hidden depths. And she orchestrates this to be revealed to the rest of the ton via a competition to reveal the true identity of local gossip columnist Lady Whistledown.

Parts of this novel are exceptionally entertaining and clever. Penelope makes for an interesting lead, a wallflower, either invisible or regarded as unfortunate or a joke by her peers. Colin is well ... a bit of dick.I cannot say I enjoyed the romance in this one and felt that he was too controlling and that his reasons for wanting to keep Penelope's secret were motivated by selfishness. Of course, he realises the error of his ways before the end of the book and the inevitable happily ever after, but he doesn't make for an entertaining lover to read about--being petty and jealous aren't exactly desirable character traits. His sudden realisation that he is in love with Penelope also feels somewhat out of place. Overall, though, the whole thing is entertaining enough and, obviously, not meant to be take too seriously.

An entertaining instalment in the Bridgerton series, which is let down just a little with a weak hero.

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