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REVIEW: What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

Dear Ms. Quinn:

Confession time. I don’t remember much about The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever.   I vaguely remember Olivia, best friend of Miranda, younger sister of the hero but her flavor wasn’t with me when I started What Happens in London. I don’t know if that is good or bad but I highly enjoyed What Happens. It is sweet, funny and romantic. Can’t ask for much more from a romance book.

Olivia is the only daughter of the Earl of Rudland. She is very, very pretty. Has received a multitude of marriage proposals, all of which have been rejected and is currently being courted by a Prince.   Olivia’s problem is that she is bored now that Miranda has married her brother and hied off to the country-side.   Olivia finds herself gossiping with some nitwits who suggest her  new neighbor killed  his fiance. She has nothing better to do so for five days she spies on  her neighbor while he is in his study.   She notices that he wears a funny hat with plumes and that he furtively tossed a whole sheaf of papers in the fireplace!   Olivia is intrigued.

Sir Harry is annoyed that Olivia is spying on him but not so much that  he stops using his study. In fact, his annoyance kind of turns into  entertainment as he debates internally how long she will keep watching him and why.   This musing is ruined one day when he glances up at the window when  he believes Olivia isn’t there. Olivia sees him looking at her and  knows she’s found out so she stops spying on him to Harry’s bemused chagrin.

Sir Harry proceeds to get himself invited to a party that Olivia will  be attending for the mere purpose of twitting her about her spying on  him.   She treats him frostily and he comes away thinking that she’s  kind of bitchy.   I loved that the two didn’t like each other much in the beginning of the book.

Sir Harry is a linguist and works for the War Office. The Russian Prince courting Olivia  is under suspicion of possibly helping Napoleon and Sir Harry is  ordered to follow him about.   Because the Russian Prince is pursuing Olivia, this gives  Sir Harry an excuse to follow Olivia.

Sir Harry and Olivia spar, find that they enjoy sparring with each other, that they enjoy a similarly perverse sense of humor and eventually fall in love.   You can actually see the two fall for each other which helps the reader buy into the ultimate happy ever after.

My nitpicks included that there was big build up with Sir Harry’s  father being a drunk but I didn’t really see how that had any impact  on Harry and Olivia’s courtship.   Maybe it was too subtly inserted but other than Harry refusing to drink, the issue of his father’s alcoholism and how that affected Harry’s view of family life didn’t seem to impede his desire for Olivia or his desire to marry Olivia once he realized that he loved her.

Another issue is that Olivia is kind of a regular debutante which I appreciated but then I felt she was given “smart” attributes to make her more appealing to the reader.   She loves to read newspapers but not gothic novels. She loves political talk and isn’t good at needlepoint or any of those other debutante skills.

There are twists to the plot that I didn’t see coming and several places in the book where I laughed out loud. The ending is a bit treacly, but probably in keeping with the book. I suspect I’ll be in the minority over the ending as most people will say its one of the most romantic endings ever. If I had to use one word to describe this book it would be charming.   B

Best regards,


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers beginning June 30, 2009 but may be in bookstores now.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. SonomaLass
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 16:23:57

    I liked The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever, except for the ending. I recall Olivia as being somewhat spoiled and very impulsive and stubborn — so much so that often only Miranda could reason with her, which was the reason Miranda spent so much time with the family. Olivia got in trouble over the outrageous things she said to people, which I thought was funny, and I really liked the character. I’m eager to read this and see what Quinn does with a character she essentially created a decade ago.

  2. Julia
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 17:25:53

    Glad to hear! I’m a huge Quinn fan, and I loved The Secret Diaries….

    By the way, did you guys see that there’s going to be a live chat with Quinn on Tuesday? Here’s the link

  3. Mireya
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 18:54:23

    Today is the 26th, Jane. Book releases on the 30th. And so we continue waiting…

  4. katiebabs
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 20:26:21

    This is the second book I read this year where I laugh out loud so many times that people gave me looks. I would have to say this is one of Quinn’s best.

  5. Jill D.
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 21:04:26

    Well, I am hearing quite a lot of positive talk about this book. I guess I will let it influence me. So I am joining the bandwagon and adding it to the pile. Thanks for the review!

  6. Tabitha
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 21:05:04

    I really enjoyed The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever and looking forward to this book…just a few more days now!

  7. Shan
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 00:29:15

    I enjoyed The Secret Diaries…. and all of the other books by J.Quinn that I have read. Its been so long since I read Book 1 that I can not really remember much about Olivia other than she was connected to the hero and heroine. I will more than likely reread the first book before this one is released. I really wished that it was possible for the authors to finish one set of books before they move on to another or at least the books in a set could be released closer together, but I know that doesn’t always happen.

    Regardless, I am still looking forward to reading this and all future novel by J.Quinn. She is one of my favorite authors for historical romance.

  8. Caty
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 04:25:59

    I have this on pre-order and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Julia Quinn book I didn’t like.

  9. Liz
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 16:26:50

    The book might not officially release till Tuesday but I found it at the local Books-A-Million on Thursday.

  10. Babz
    Jun 29, 2009 @ 07:43:46

    Lordy, I really hope this one will be good because I hated, hated, hated the last 3/4 books she came up with. And I know she’s so much better than that.

  11. BOOK REVIEW: What Happens in London by Julia Quinn « Tour’s Books Blog
    Jul 04, 2009 @ 14:55:35

    […] Dear Author liked this book far better than I did.  See their review here. […]

  12. handyhunter
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 17:07:31

    *spoilers, spoilers*

    ‘Charming’ is a great way to describe this book — and I greatly enjoyed the window proposal at the end. I found almost the entire thing quite delightful, and I liked the lack of plot shenanigans (’til the end at least) in Olivia and Harry’s developing relationship. I didn’t think the book needed the political intrigue bit at the end, partly because I liked that Alexei was NOT evil, just a bit boorish, and there were other ways of revealing Harry’s spy life and ability to speak different languages.

    My nitpicks included that there was big build up with Sir Harry's father being a drunk but I didn't really see how that had any impact on Harry and Olivia's courtship.

    I didn’t mind it, but it seems like a little like set up for a later book, if, say, Edward were to get his own story. The brothers’ relationship was another sort of unresolved point to me; it was getting better, sort of, at the end, but after Edward’s outburst/revelation about feeling abandoned by his older brother, there wasn’t really any time for them to talk or argue again in order to repair or re-establish their relationship. I’m okay with everything not being patched up (if, for example, their relationship remained strained, even if Edward stopped drinking), but this feels like a bit of a loose thread because they didn’t have that follow-up conversation.

  13. Trina
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 23:26:47

    I’d love to say I’ve read this already, but the first line of the prologue turned me off. Because of the cocked up job of coding done for the ebook (at least, I”m presuming they only screwed up the ebook). I absolutely hate it when they screw up the formatting such that you have the first character of a word on one line with the rest of the word on the next line.



    Ugh. Purchased from fictionwise and I reported it to them. Downloaded the kindle sample and it is the same way. For now, the book is staying in my list and I’ll move on to other books.

  14. Tamie Petersen
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 19:22:14

    This book has elicit bedroom scenes not intended to be read by anyone but the participants. Since the participants are fictional, it is not appropriate to be read by anyone.

    When a person watches TV, reads a books, listens to a program, considers life… they need to consider this scripture from Philippians:

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

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