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REVIEW: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

Dear Mrs. Quinn,

I didn’t start reading your books until the publication of the second Bridgerton novel. The hoopla surrounding it was impossible to miss. Once I’d finished it, I had to go back and read the first book and then each of the following books in the series. My favorite remains Colin and Penelope’s story. As I read each novel after book four, I noticed that my enjoyment dimmed slightly. Not by much but, yes, there was a downward trend. But at eight books it was a lengthy series and such is to be expected.

I wasn’t thrilled with the book that came next, Miranda Cheever, as shown by my C+ review grade. But I heard that this was an older manuscript you’d pulled out, dusted off and polished up for publication while you worked on two all new books. So, okay I was still willing to keep reading your novels. And with “The Lost Duke of Wyndham,” at first it looked like you and I were sympatico again.

But even though my final grade for “Duke” was better than “Cheever,” I couldn’t help but notice that certain aspects of the writing style were beginning to stand out as annoying for me. When I began to read “Mr. Cavendish,” what had been slightly annoying in the later Bridgerton books and vastly irritating at the beginning of “Duke” became something I couldn’t overcome. Namely, the over bantering dialogue. It’s like the book is trying to be a 30′s sophisticated movie on steroids.

The circle blathering, mental and verbal, is enough to drive me insane. You didn’t used to write this way. I’m sure of it and Jane feels the same way. I made it through the last book because it seemed to die down after about the 1/2 way mark but this time, I’ve had it. I just can’t take it anymore. As Amelia and Thomas jibbered on to each other, talked over each other and repeated each other, to me, literally ad nauseum, I ended up huffing (at my ereader) “just bloody well get the *&^$@# on with this scene.” They didn’t. At which point I fumed,” Shut up. Just _shut_ up!” To no avail.

Then Amelia heads off in mental la la land so often that the other characters often have to yank her back and tell her what they all said during the 5 minutes she was off in space.

It wasn’t just the craft that didn’t work for me but the story as well. There’s the hook of this book. Namely, that we see Thomas and Amelia’s PsOV for the events that were covered in “Wyndham.” I was curious and admit to looking forward to watching you handle this. I also liked Thomas a great deal in book one but in this one, he was more a snotty nosed brat for much of what I read. Amelia had her moments as well. At the start, I had thought this could prove interesting- hidden depths and all – but then she began to annoy me too.

As for the dual plot told from different PsOV, nah, didn’t work too well. Maybe if I’d enjoyed the actual writing style used for the story, then it could have. But endless yammering + same plot = annoying –> nuts.

I hope that this isn’t the parting of ways for me and your books. And obviously your writing style is still working well for tons of readers so I have no expectations that you’ll change it. Perhaps a fresh plot will rejuvenate my interest but alas, for “Mr. Cavendish” it’s a DNF.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

42 Comments

  1. Kat
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 06:20:34

    Oh, Jayne, you need to create a graphic for the Nuts Formula. It would come in soooo handy. I’ve forgotten what Wyndham was about (I remember thinking it was okay), so maybe that will help when I get around to reading this one.

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  2. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 07:16:59

    Kat, I must admit I have no clue what you’re talking about with a graphic for the Nuts Formula. Wyndham is about the batty bitch Dowager Duchess who thinks a highwayman who tried to rob her is actually the son of her favorite son who died in Ireland lo, these many years ago. She hates the current Duke who is also her grandson (hatred is reciprocated) and spends the whole book proving what she wants to prove. The heroine is the young woman who was her overworked companion.

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  3. Kat
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 08:10:35

    Nuts Formula:

    endless yammering + same plot = annoying -> nuts

    As for the plot for Wyndham’s book… Yeah, that sounds familiar. There was a necklace, right? Anyway, I have the book, but maybe it’s better if I don’t reread it before I get to Cavendish (if I recall, I wasn’t all that interested in Amelia anyway). I have a high threshold of pain/nuttiness when it comes to previously auto-buy authors.

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  4. joanne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 08:40:18

    Thank you for solving the mystery … because it’s interesting that you mention the Cheever book being ‘dusted off’, I wondered why I liked it when so many others didn’t and it must have been that it took me back— waaay back — to when I first started reading Historical Romances, and it felt familiar.

    For this book, I wondered if the story, told from different POVs wouldn’t have worked if it had been done in one book? Certainly there was enough blathering to edit from the two books to make that a viable alternative …. even if less financially acceptable for the author and/or publisher.

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  5. Deb Kinnard
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 08:40:56

    Now, see, I kinda liked it. It was the first Quinn novel I’ve read, so I had no basis for comparison with her earlier work. And I can’t honestly say I’d have read the same story told from other PsOV — it would seem redundant ’cause I’d already know what happened. I picked up “Mr. Cavendish” based on a review in SBTB, and wasn’t terribly disappointed.

    It was a B- read for me. Nothing in the nuts-graphic wallbanger category.

    YMMV.

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  6. Patti
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:11:00

    I am a huge fan of Julia Quinn and have every book she’s written. I enjoy the verbal banter and find her very witty. That said, I too have been a little less thrilled with her books that have come after the first 6 Bridgerton books. I’m not sure why that is. Sometimes I think my expectations are too high. I often think that is true of many reviewers too, because she is so popular. Whatever the reason, her stories just don’t move me like they used to. There seems to be something important missing. I’ll still but her books, but not as
    quickly as before.

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  7. Jessica
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:30:32

    Yikes. This was up next on my TBR pile, but I was dreadfully put out by Wyndham, and your review, plus the tepid reviews by many others, are making me think my time is better spent on a different book.

    On a different note, I was taken aback to learn that you cannot, in fact, make characters bend to your will. I’ve been exerting my mental powers towards this particular trick for years without success, but I thought if anyone could do it, one of you guys could!

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  8. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:32:38

    For this book, I wondered if the story, told from different POVs wouldn't have worked if it had been done in one book? Certainly there was enough blathering to edit from the two books to make that a viable alternative …. even if less financially acceptable for the author and/or publisher.

    I think so too. But wonder how it could have been done without the book dragging too long. Probably people would have gotten tired of the same scene being retold so show all 4 character’s thoughts.

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  9. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:35:07

    Jessica, there are books I mentally re-edit, if I enjoy them enough to read again, so that I can make those darn characters do what I want. But no, we don’t have The Power to actually change the words on the page. :(

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  10. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:39:20

    Kat I think if you reread Wyndham before trying this one, you’ll be bored out of your mind. Especially since huge chunks of dialogue are taken verbatim from the first book and used in this one. Which in Quinn’s defense she sorta had to do since many of the scenes are the exact same but only shown from Thomas or Amelia’s POV.

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  11. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:42:47

    Hey Deb, don’t let me kill your buzz. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Now you should try some of her better Bridgerton novels and see how they compare.

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  12. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:46:40

    Joanne, what I heard was that she redid “Cheever” in order to release a book last year while she worked on these two books with the idea that they would be released a few months apart. It’s not surprising that she would need to do this since Quinn has usually taken at least a year to release all her books. Unlike Balogh who can crank out 3-4 single title novels in one year.

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  13. ArkansasCyndi
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:49:01

    Kat – The “Nuts” formula would be something like: (I’ll describe since I think I can post pics here)

    Picture of Pair of moving lips + NOT SURE HERE = Picture of hammer hitting head = picture of acorn

    Is this what you meant?

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  14. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:52:20

    Oh, I like that imagery! I wish I had icons we could use.

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  15. Dakota
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 10:14:54

    I agree with you pretty much on every point here, Jayne! (Even with Romancing Mr. Bridgerton being my favorite.) :) I’m not sure when it happened, but I’ve not whole-heartedly enjoyed a Julia Quinn new release since…On The Way To The Wedding. Or maybe even It’s In His Kiss. I felt very much the way you did about this book. *sigh* I miss those days when Julia Quinn felt like a solid bet for me.

    (This may be very obvious, but what does DNF stand for?)

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  16. sandy l
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 10:55:39

    The book is an intriguing idea. Same scenes, different characters. I’m puzzled by the idea that the exact same dialogue was used in both books. I’ve always thought that each person would have their own interpretation of an event. Although we hear and see the same event, we each come away with something slightly different. Does that make sense? Remember the whisper game? By the time the last child says what is whispered in her ear, it is an entirely different word. If an author could pull it off, that would be a very humorous book.

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  17. Kim
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 11:49:02

    I really enjoyed TLDOW and looked forward to MCIP. I thought it would be interesting to see the same scenes from Thomas & Amelia’s POV. However, since the book covers all the same time frame, it didn’t quite work. Perhaps if JQ had set half the story during the same time period and then move on, there would have been more original scenes with Thomas and Amelia. As it was, I felt like the two books repeated the same material. Also, although I looked forward to Thomas’s story, I found he was a bit disappointing in MCIP. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that he even realized that he was in love.

    I disagree with Jayne about the banter. That’s what I think is so great in JQ’s books. I read TLDOW twice specifically because of the banter. The dialogue between all the characters was terrific in MCIP – especially between Jack & Grace.

    (I believe DNF means did not finish)

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  18. MB
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:07:54

    For some reason, I much preferred “Mr Cavendish, I Presume” to “The Last Duke of Wyndham”. I liked the characters better, I guess. But, no, they are not up to some of her better novels. TLDOW was a C for me, MCIP was a B.

    I am feeling strangely unhappy with many of the new releases by my favorite (auto-buy) authors this year!

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  19. Maya M.
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:17:59

    uh oh. i was planning on reading this pair of books (only have ‘duke and i’ and ‘sir phillip’ under my bridgerton belt so far), but for me, ‘cheever’ wasn’t even a C, it was a DNF because of the (to me) intolerable hero. so if you thought it was still worthy of a passing grade, it doesn’t portend well for my wyndham reaction…

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  20. Deb Kinnard
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:39:00

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Bridgerton books. Happens we’re taking a trip to the bookshop tonight, so I’ll hunt ‘em down.

    I neglected to say, I haven’t been disappointed so far with the recommendations I find here on DA.

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  21. Susan/DC
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:41:52

    So far I’ve read TLDOW but MCIP still sits in the TBR pile. What I didn’t care for in the former was that the obnoxious dowager duchess won because she displaced Thomas. Jack might have been somewhat tortured (won’t go into the reasons because I don’t want to reveal spoilers), but he essentially grew up in a happy family and was loved. He then comes to discover a wealthy patrimony he didn’t know existed and a grandmother willing to love him and to use him as a weapon against her other grandson. I immediately felt more sympathy for Thomas, who thought he knew his social status but was far more unmoored emotionally than Jack. Thomas recognized that his grandmother was essentially despicable. Nonetheless, to know your grandmother hates you simply because she resented that your father lived while her favorite son died and to have to accept this every day of your life — that, to me, is emotional torture. I want to see Thomas gain some measure of love to compensate for his lost position in the world and for all the coldness he suffered in the past.

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  22. Moth
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:42:57

    Although we hear and see the same event, we each come away with something slightly different…If an author could pull it off, that would be a very humorous book.

    Sandy l, there was a Kevin Bacon movie called He Said, She Said where they did this. It was pretty funny.

    I think the same plot, different POV needs to be handled really well to pull it off though. It sounds like Ms. Quinn didn’t manage it. Oh well.

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  23. Chrissy
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 12:53:49

    I remember when Devereaux did Fire/Ice and it was SO well done… she really did set the bar high.

    This failed for me. I liked the first one, though DUKE dragged a bit. Liked the dialogue and characters, but it was stretched.

    Cavendish flopped simply because I HAD ALREADY READ IT. It felt exactly like Quinn took DUKE and stuck character specific scenes into it to make it a different book… without actually doing so. HUGE chunks of it were identical.

    Poorly done and worse… a rip-off.

    Which bums me out, because she was a fave and I want her to stay one very badly.

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  24. Corrine
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 13:44:06

    but for me, ‘cheever' wasn't even a C, it was a DNF

    Me too!

    I personally love the Lost Duke of Wyndham. To me, it’s a tie between that and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton as my fave JQ titles. The thing I loved so much about Jack and Grace was that they were honestly happy just to be around each other. They brought each other so much joy, and that makes a great romance.

    On the other hand, MCIP was boring, repetitive and I wanted to throttle Thomas throughout most of the book. I hated (hated, hated, hated) that he waited until he was sure he was going to lose Amelia to do the “right thing” by her. It’s like, come on, you’ve led her along for this long, but now that it’s someone else’s responsibility, she has to marry immediately?!?! I didn’t feel the connection between Thomas and Amelia, and in the end, I didn’t really believe they were in love.

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  25. Michelle
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 14:18:27

    I know I read the Devereaux books that Chrissy mentioned, but I can’t remember them. I do remember a two book series by Jean Brashear for the Superromance line that told parts of the same story from different points-of-view. There were times that the second novel felt repetitive, but overall, it was a fairly powerful reading experience. It would be interesting to read two novels that really pull this concept off and never feel repetitive. I’ve seen it done for scenes in a tv show – the British version of coupling.

    I did buy this book by Quinn, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m trying to have more time from when I read the first book to try to reduce the repetitiveness.

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  26. Melinda
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 16:26:15

    It’s my completely unscientific observation that those who liked Lost Duke did not like Cavendish and those who did like Cavendish did not like Lost Duke. I’m in the did-not-like-Lost-Duke category, and did like Cavendish (better). I personally found Thomas much more likable and Jack to be an insolent twit. In my opinion.

    Since I read them as they were released, I did have a gap of time between the 2 so I didn’t find them overly repetitive.

    I also just finished Deveraux’s Twins – Ice/Fire and found them both awful – confusing and muddled, with 2 heroes who did not earn the title hero in my book, and at least 1 twin who should be slapped. That’s my take on it anyway.

    So I guess it’s to each her own! Funny how that works. I do like most of Quinn’s (and Deveraux’s) other works. (trying to decide if I should add more evidence to my opinions or just leave it at this…)

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  27. Mos Stef
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 16:46:40

    I’m pretty much with you. I did enjoy the ending (but man, was it a slog getting to it!) but the whole thing was painful. I love Wyndham, so this one being so dull and unengaging was a big dissapointment. When “Mr. Cavendish” found himself slowly falling in love after getting to know Amelia, I just had to ask myself… why? Besides the charming scene with them going over maps, she just seemed passionless, spineless and all-around dull. His shining positive feature seemed to end at his “amazing” blue eyes!

    Is anyone else bothered by the back page that said “Julia Quinn’s next bestseller, coming ___”? No matter how well her books sell, that line just seemed really classless and braggy. I’m a big Julia Quinn fan, though I’ve yet to read the entire Bridgerton series (I’ve found they’re best to read really spaced out) but my excitement for her next BESTSELLER is very much diminished.

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  28. orannia
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 17:29:03

    Hmmm, both of these are on my TBR (library) list. Does it matter which one I read first? I was leaning towards TLDOW. I have been told to leave a HUGE gap between reading them.

    I've seen it done for scenes in a tv show – the British version of Coupling.

    OT: Michelle – I LOVE Coupling. I watched it when living in the UK. Most of the time I was laughing so hard I cried! That Spiderman scene is particularly memorable :)

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  29. Jadan
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 17:51:02

    I’m currently stalled out on TLDOW. I started it over the weekend, couldn’t buy into the whole let’s-kidnap-our-highwayman biz and now I’ve put it face down on the second shelf of my nightstand~which basically means it’s in DNF limbo. So, I doubt I’ll ever get to MCIP, but I found that if I whited-out the title of the book in your review, you could’ve been talking about TLDOW for me.

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  30. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 18:26:37

    I'm a big Julia Quinn fan, though I've yet to read the entire Bridgerton series (I've found they're best to read really spaced out)

    I have been told to leave a HUGE gap between reading them.

    I’m getting the feeling that this is the way to read Quinn books. With a long interval between them. I did go back with the Bridgerton series and read the initial books quickly after loving “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” but from then on, I read the books as they were released – spaced a year apart.

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  31. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 18:32:28

    It's my completely unscientific observation that those who liked Lost Duke did not like Cavendish and those who did like Cavendish did not like Lost Duke. I'm in the did-not-like-Lost-Duke category, and did like Cavendish (better). I personally found Thomas much more likable and Jack to be an insolent twit. In my opinion.

    We got an early review copy here and Jane read the books out of order. Methinks the publicist asked her to (which makes me wonder why since the books were released in the other order). She also slightly prefered MCIP to TLDOW.

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  32. Jayne
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 18:42:05

    Is anyone else bothered by the back page that said “Julia Quinn's next bestseller, coming ___”? No matter how well her books sell, that line just seemed really classless and braggy. I'm a big Julia Quinn fan, though I've yet to read the entire Bridgerton series (I've found they're best to read really spaced out) but my excitement for her next BESTSELLER is very much diminished.

    I’m glad I didn’t notice this as that type of thing tends to twist me the wrong way too. I don’t care to be told that something will be “the best I’ve ever seen” or it will “move me.” Let me determine that. But then I avoid reading author promo quotes on book covers for the same reason. I don’t care that they loved it. What I care about is if I will love it.

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  33. Tae
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 18:51:12

    I still love Julia Quinn enough to read everything she’s written automatically, I just don’t buy everything automatically. That’s what the local library is for. I test the book out first from them, then decide if I want to buy it or not. The entire Bridgerton series is worth owning, though the first four especially. Most of the books prior to the Bridgerton books are also worth owning.

    I just didn’t see the tension in TLDOW. I didn’t feel like there was a real barrier to Jack and Grace getting married or being together. It wasn’t as funny as her previous books either.

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  34. Miki
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 19:06:30

    Julia Quinn is one of the first “historical” authors I experimented with. Before that I read contemporary, science fiction, and paranormal romance only.

    The first book I read was “Brighter Than the Sun”, and I read it right after reading a particularly dark urban fantasy. I suspect “Brighter Than the Sun” would epitomize your 30s bantering style – and I loved it for it! I really enjoyed the light (fluffy?) humor and the overall “sweetness” of the story after the UF darkness.

    So that part of this book will appeal to me – and I’ll have to remember to save it for a follow up to one of the other UF books on my cyber-shelf.

    The other part might be more difficult. I enjoyed “Lost Duke” but I wondered how successful she would be at making Thomas likeable. He really did come off as annoyingly snotty.

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  35. willaful
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 19:38:09

    Yes, yes, oh God yes. Though in fact, I think the bantering goes way back to her first books, which I find completely un-rereadable. I am not at all a banter fan, unless it’s done by Loretta Chase. None of Quinn’s books are completely banter-free, but some, like Romancing Mr. Bridgerton have other redeeming qualities so I like them anyway.

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  36. SonomaLass
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 23:50:45

    I quite like Julia Quinn generally, although like almost any author, I have to space out her books to avoid feeling the “same-ness” of the writing. My favorite full length novels of her are The Duke and I and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, although I think I enjoy the Lady Whistledown short story anthologies even more. I liked Secrets of Miss Miranda Cheever too, and also the only one of her pre-Bridgerton publications I’ve read, How to Marry a Marquis. They are silly fun, not intense romance, and that’s what I read them for.

    With this pair, I thought the concept pretty much failed, for a lot of the same reasons others have stated. The overlap was too much, and I knew too well what was going to happen already in the second book, so it felt repetitive for me. I would have enjoyed more having a single book, with both couples and their romances featured. Since it’s all third person narration, she could have shifted the POV around, too.

    I read fast, so perhaps the banter goes by fast enough that I don’t get wall-bangy about it. I like the way Quinn isn’t afraid to take time with a moment between characters, even if it isn’t always advancing the plot.

    One thing that I have liked about Quinn since The Duke and I is how well she writes supporting characters — I love Violet Bridgerton, even though she’s the member of the family without her own book. That happened in Lost Duke for me as well, and I think it hurt the second book. I already felt that I knew and liked Thomas and Amelia — in fact, I liked Thomas better in the first book than I did in the second. It was nice getting to know Amelia better, but again, I think that could have been worked into a single book.

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  37. Jayne
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 14:37:28

    Miki, I didn’t stick around long enough to see Thomas become likable. In fact, during the part of the book I did read, I didn’t like him much at all. I suppose Quinn might have been showing how miserable he was as a Duke in order that the reader could believe he’d honestly not feel a thing when his batshit granny manged to yank him away from the title.

    Anyway, this should supply a banter-fix after a tough UF novel.

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  38. Jayne
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 14:53:58

    willaful, I hear ya. I know she has had banter in all her books but lately banter is taking them over. All banter, all the time! Kind of like a radio ad. Sigh…

    Several of my friends say that she’s really a contemporary author who dresses her characters up in Regency clothing or that she’s more Regency Lite. I realize I’m not going to get a gritty historical novel from her. I’ve always known that but I’ve reached my limit with the endless mental round and round and round about a scene.

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  39. Jayne
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 14:55:37

    I love Violet Bridgerton, even though she's the member of the family without her own book.

    Oh, yes. She’s one of my favorite characters. Though her advice to her soon to be married daughters leaves a bit to be desired!

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  40. Stephanie
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 17:19:34

    I unexpectedly found “Mr. Cavendish, I Presume” at the library and finished reading it yesterday. A few weeks before that, I found and checked out “The Lost Duke of Wyndham.” Reading them that close together was probably not a good idea but when you’re on a book budget, you have to take advantages of opportunities as they come.

    Anyway, I thought TLDoW had one of the best opening chapters I’ve read in a long time, though I’m not sure the rest of the novel lived up to it. I wish I could say something equally flattering about MCIP. The concept of alternate POVs was intriguing but the execution was off. I agree with those who thought there was just too much overlap–maybe if the proportion of new material to old material was higher–50/50 or even 60/40–the book would have been more compelling. As it was, it seemed slow, tepid, and kind of muffled, as if all the oomph had gone out in the first telling of the tale.

    I think another problem is that retelling the events from Thomas and Amelia’s perspectives reinforces how passive they both are as characters. They react rather than act. They don’t make things happen, rather things happen to them. This might work in TLDoW, where they’re supporting players, but MCIP is supposed to be their story. I prefer to see the central couple take charge of their fate, rather than let outside events control so much of what they say and do.

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  41. Mary M.
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 18:26:54

    I bought that book several weeks ago and it’s in the top 5 of my current TBR list. I had thought maybe I should re-read The Lost Duke of Wyndham first since I’ve forgotten most of the story… well, let’s just say I’m glad I saw this review first. Perhaps I can avoid that overlapping feeling now. Wish me luck ;).

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  42. Review: The Lost Duke of Wyndham and Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn | Book Exhibitionism
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 21:24:03

    [...] what oth­ers said: Dear Author (B and DNF) Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (B and [...]

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