I used to be a big Julia Quinn fan, gobbled up her Bridgerton books as quickly as they came out. But then, hmmm, I'm not sure what happened. Somehow they weren't feeling as fresh for me perhaps? Seemed like the last few books I read by the author were just okay and so I fell away. But I was curious, with a new Bridgerton book arriving on the market - after a number of books in other series - whether I could recapture that sparky feeling those early books provided. The answer? A resounding yes.
Miss Poppy Bridgerton is visiting a friend on the Dorset coast. She's at loose ends to some extent and feeling a bit flat. Her second London season is behind her, but sadly none of the suitors vying for her hand can match her wit and intelligence and she just hasn't found anyone who will challenge her. That is until she meets Captain Andrew James, a privateer who ends up her unwitting kidnaper. You see, Poppy's boredom has led her on a lonely trek into a smuggler's den and when she's caught there, the men feel there's nothing to do but take her with them and turn her over to their Captain. Thus Captain James finds her tied up in his quarters.
But while Andrew is a privateer in name, in reality he's a Navy officer whose commission he traded for service to the crown. He uses his supposed illegal activities to cover up the work he does passing messages and information from England to all other parts Europe. The arrival of Poppy on his boat is just as much a disaster for him as it is her, but his duty is to the Crown and his mission is time-sensitive, so he has no choice but to take her with them.
The set-up here isn't anything remarkably new, but Quinn manages to make what could have felt contrived feel entirely rational and believable. And what the set-up does more then anything else is to allow Poppy and Andrew to spend a lot of time together in what starts as a battle of very equal wits and turns into something much more. So for me the sparky-ness of Quinn is definitely back. Perhaps I should dip into some of the backlist I skipped to see what else I've missed.