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Book Cover C2’s review of A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith, Book 2) by Julia Quinn
Historical romance released by Avon, 29 May 2012

In Julia Quinn’s newest release, Daniel Smythe-Smith finally returns home to England after years in exile on the Continent.  A male Smythe-Smith??  You know you’re intrigued…

The last thing Daniel Smythe-Smith, Earl of Winstead, expects to happen on his first night back at home in England is that he might see a mysterious beauty playing in his family’s annual musicale.  In fact, he is so taken with her, he searches for her after the musical program is finished…instead of greeting his family that he hasn’t seen in years.

The last thing Miss Anne Wynter expects after becoming governess to the Pleinsworth girls is that she would be drafted into service during the Smythe-Smith’s famous (or infamous) musicale.  However, when one of the girls is under the weather, Lady Pleinsworth insists.  What’s a governess to do?  Even if the governess has a secret and would prefer to escape the scrutiny of the ton?  After the performance is blessedly over, Anne encounters a handsome stranger in a back hallway – a stranger who startles her, grabs her, and starts asking her questions. After her initial fright, though, Anne inexplicably relaxes in the stranger’s company.  After a bit of flirtatious chatter and an unexpected kiss, they separate.  Little does Anne know she just met the master of the house…

As Daniel settles back into life in England and gets reacquainted with his family, he does his best to get acquainted with his little cousins’ lovely governess, as well.  And Anne is charmed by the fun, sweet-natured earl, but a secret from her past is about to resurface and Anne is afraid those around her – people she has grown to care about a great deal – could be hurt.

I enjoy a good love-at-first-sight story as much as anyone, faithful reader.  However, would it really be so all-consuming that it is more important than visiting with the family you haven’t seen in years??  My mother would not be having that, let me say.  But let’s push that aside for a moment, because the at-first-sight encounter where Daniel and Anne meet is really lovely and sweet.  Still, the way Daniel arranges to get to know her better – by inviting his aunt and cousins to his estate…not his mom or sisters – seems unrealistic.  And really, I don’t expect a lot of realism, so for me to even bring it up tells you how unrealistic it seemed.

Also, the villain of the piece – the big obstacle to Anne’s happiness – is kind of lame, actually (my notes say cartoony).  I tend to not like crazy villains, unless they are the cold, pure evil type of crazy, so this guy is just annoying – kind of a throwaway character, you know?  Like, oh…something needs to keep the hero and heroine apart…no need to bother with anything to intensive…how about a crazy dude?  And the situation with Anne’s parents that sent her into a life of service also seems very standard…kind of a set-piece to get a heroine into peril and, therefore, not very interesting or original.

It isn’t that the book is bad, really.  The beginning and the end are quite good, and Daniel and Anne’s time with her young charges are fun and showcases Ms. Quinn’s signature humor. Unfortunately, the middle is not Ms. Quinn’s best effort, so this is not my favorite of her books. It couldn’t decide what it wanted to be – a lord/governess story or a I-have-a-horrible-secret-so-we-can-never-be-together story – so it ends up as a strange hybrid. Entertaining, if you are new to the author, but if you are a longtime fan, somewhat disappointing.

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My grade: C+


Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is…

But she’s managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge— in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy— no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he’s the first man who has truly tempted her, and it’s getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger…

But that’s not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family’s annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she’s a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…

Read an excerpt.

Other books in the series:

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