Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-053124-X
Historical Romance, 2005
While I can’t say I love all her books without reservation, I always find myself looking forward to a new book by Julia Quinn. Her dialogues are funny, her characters sparkle with wit and chemistry, and they are always likeable. Ms Quinn’s latest, It’s in His Kiss, however, lacks any of the usual virtues that have me anticipating her books eagerly. This book isn’t funny. While the author generally does a good job in subverting Regency historical clichés to make them her own, here Ms Quinn seems to be just going through the motions. The result is a book that feels like… well, if the author’s best books are like truffle cakes that melt in my mouth, this book is like the cake that is left in the rain just like what Donna Summer is caterwauling about in that song of hers.
Hyacinth Bridgerton’s story begins when she meets her darling society old coot Lady Danbury’s grandson Gareth St Clair and feels funny inside the way women do when they are attracted to a man but don’t really understand what is happening to them. Gareth has a diary of his grandmother that is written in Italian and Hyacinth offers her translation services even if her Italian is merely serviceable at best. Gareth is hoping to learn more about his parentage. All he knows is that he is the offspring of his mother’s adulterous affair.
This book doesn’t have much external conflicts so the story should have been focused on Gareth and Hyacinth. But their characterizations are rudimentary at most. Very little is explored beneath the surface. Hyacinth is intelligent and outspoken, always trying to get her nose into Gareth’s business, but there’s little else about her. Gareth is not happy with the relationship with his non-biological father but Ms Quinn tries to substitute angst for characterization. I know very little about Gareth at the end of the day other than his paternity blues.
The romance is a disappointment because the characters don’t fall in love as much as they are pushed into doing so by a gaggle of secondary characters from Bridgertons past and their spouses to Lady Danbury, all these people apparently having some sixth sense where matchmaking is concerned. I would love to see more of why these two characters will fall in love but the author prefers to shove down my throat through her secondary characters that it’s fait accompli of sorts that Gareth and Hyacinth are So! Perfect! for each other.
The humor is flat because there aren’t many sparkling banters in this book. Lady Danbury is colorful, but she is a stereotype in technicolor. Everything about this book is an obvious cliché. While in the past the author tries to and manages to imprint her personal stamp on her stories to make them her own, here, Ms Quinn seems to be just rinsing and washing through a laundry list of clichés. The result is a flat and lacklustre book that feels mechanical at best and an outright bore at worst.
This book is done. Let’s hope that the author will take a deep breath, relax, go find some inner muse to recharge the creative juices, and come up with a better book next time.