After I finished the first book in the Bridgerton series, I was left desperately wanting more. I really enjoy Julia Quinn's gift for story telling, and her Bridgertons are as charming as one can hope for from a large, series building family.
This, the second book, is Anthony's story. He's the eldest of the siblings and takes responsibility for all of them since their father passed when he was eighteen. His father's untimely death left Anthony with a grim certainty that he himself would die young, and thus he is determined not to fall in love. He does, however, want to marry and produce an heir. So, he sets his sights on Edwina Sheffield, a charming, pretty, intelligent young lady who he feels no particular chemistry for, and so he is assured never to fall in love with her. The perfect wife. However, Edwina will not marry a man that her elder sister, Kate, does not approve of. Anthony starts a quest to prove himself to Kate, who is perceptive, smart, and eternally overshadowed--and someone Anthony does feel intense attraction to. As the pull toward Kate grows stronger, he wonders if he can will himself to keep from loving her.
Quinn seems to be good at building internal conflict. This book dealt with the subject of living through fears, with both main characters coming to grips with seemingly irrational phobias. They share the experience of having lost parents at a young age, and so their hang ups are similar in a way. Their coming together is rewarding both in terms of the love they share and in terms of psychological healing.
On a less serious note, I felt they were both very sexy and very sweet together. There were a lot of scenes that just plain made me smile.You want them to be happy together because that makes you, the reader, happy.
If I'm forced to rip this open and name a flaw, it's only that the supposedly too stubborn to love Anthony actually gives in to all of the things that will lead to love way too easily. He doesn't even really try to keep from marrying Kate, and once married he dives right into all the gooey relationship stuff that leads to love--from conversation, comfort, the intimacy of sharing living spaces, and of course sex. He gives in so easily that I couldn't fully buy his original hang ups.
Overall, though, this was a practically flawlessly enjoyable story. For historical romance fans, the Bridgertons should not be missed. 4.5 stars.