It’s In His Kiss, by Julia Quinn
Having come near the end of my self-imposed project to read the Bridgerton novels, I look forward to not having to read more Julia Quinn novels at some near date. That is not to say that this is a bad novel. By the standards of Julia Quinn novels (not a very high standard, it should be noted), this is one of the better novels. Indeed, one gets the feeling that by the end of the series the author got tired of repeating the same formula and decided to vary it up by adding more genres and more tropes to her list, and though that does not make these novels great ones, they at least make them enjoyable enough to read. And that is what is the case here. This is an enjoyable novel that shows how it is that the youngest of the 8 Bridgerton children found their husband in a way that is likely to be appealing to film, if the series lasts that far. After all, this is a film that mixes romance with a heist film, where Hyacinth and her beau, the favorite grandson of her mentor, Lady Danbury, end up falling in love while also trying to solve a complex family mystery and gain the sort of treasure that would allow them to overcome the threat of poverty that they face thanks to Gareth’s estrangement from his legal father.
This novel is a mix between two different types of genres and it works out well. Hyacinth spends her Tuesdays reading to the elderly but witty Lady Danbury, and meanwhile Lady Danbury’s cliche rakish but not entirely dishonorable grandson Gareth St. Clair is dealing with the hostility that he has with his father over the efforts of his father in forcing him to marry a young woman who is not of sound mind. Now the father found out that Gareth was not his own and so tries to make him feel guilty about not being a legitimate St. Clair, which leads Gareth to wonder who his father really was. Meanwhile, Hyacinth’s interest in languages, and some knowledge of Italian, makes her a good person to help translate and understand a family diary that Gareth inherited from his paternal grandmother, who was apparently from Northern Italy. The two of them meet cute at an evening of dreadful music (the notorious Smythe-Smith quartet). After that the novel has them falling in love, dealing with relationship drama, and finding themselves happily married while also struggling to translate part of the diary from Slovene. And there is an interesting epilogue that hints at the resolution to the heist caper part of the novel as well.
Ultimately, how much you enjoy this novel depends on a few factors. Hyacinth is perhaps not the most appealing of the Bridgertons, but the fact that Lady Danbury plays such a large role in bringing these two people together is definitely welcome and the slight bickering between Hyacinth and those around her isn’t too tiresome, at least. Gareth is a bit rakish, but the word rake is so overused as to mean nothing here except that he is thought to be somewhat casual in his relationships with lower class women but to hold upper class women to a different standard. This does not suit for my own views of morality, to be sure, but it does appear to be a common quality in this series of novels, and one of the reasons I am not as fond of them as I am of, say, Jane Austen novels. Still, for what this novel is, namely a cliched romance novel set in the Regency period with not necessarily the most likeable characters, one can do a lot worse than this, even within the Bridgerton series. It’s nice that the novels as a whole became easier to enjoy when the author chose to vary up her formula a little bit.