My dear Miss Bridgerton. We have been corresponding now for quite some time, and although we have never formally met, I feel as if I know you. Forgive me if I am too bold, but I am writing to invite you to visit me here at Romney Hall. It is my hope that after a suitable period of time, we might decide that we will suit, and you will consent to be my wife'. Sir Phillip knew from his correspondence with his dead wife's distant cousin that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely. Except she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quie, all he wanted to do was kiss her. Eloise Bridgerton couldn't marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinkingand wondering and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except he wasn't. Her perfect husband wouldn't be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was rough and rugged. But when he smiled and when he kissed herthe rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn't help but wonder could this imperfect man be perfect for her?
After reading this superb post-Regency-era romance, the fifth in Quinn's Bridgerton siblings series, it's easy to see why the author's previous book, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, landed on RWA's Top 10 Favorite Books of 2002 list. Quinn is a consummate storyteller. Her prose is spry and assured, and she excels at creating indelible characters like chatty Eloise Bridgerton and Sir Phillip Crane, the protagonists of this unconventional effort. The novel opens as Eloise, a 28-year-old "spinster," flees London to visit her secret pen pal, Phillip, a troubled botanist and widower. The two plan to see if they are compatible, but Eloise's hopes plummet when she discovers that Phillip is not the romantic charmer of her dreams, but a grumpy father of twins. She agrees to remain for a fortnight, however, and as she interacts with him and his unruly children, she learns that he has a good heart, even if he is an emotionally distant father. Weighty issues such as abuse and discipline threaten to overshadow their relationship at times, but Eloise's sunny disposition brightens the novel, as does the arrival of her four brothers. Quinn's characters possess endearing quirks and flaws, and their easy banter is loaded with wit and warmth. Indeed, readers will likely find themselves rereading certain passages if not the entire book in order to prolong their connection to this charismatic clan.