TO SIR PHILLIP, WITH LOVE
This may be heresy to her devoted fans, but Julia Quinn's Bridgerton saga is getting a little pat. Everything feels a bit formulaic for the first half of this book. Outspoken spinster virgin? Check. Tortured, repressed hero? Check. Chaotic meeting of the Bridgertons and the new love interest? Check. Numerous references to how beloved the Bridgertons are? Check.
Frankly, Eloise deserves better. The opinionated younger sister of previous novels is now 28 and leaving London as her brother, Colin, and best friend, Penelope, wed.
She flees to the country home of Sir Phillip Crane, a man with whom she struck up a correspondence after the death of his wife, her distant cousin. Phillip has many secrets as well as a pair of mischievous 8-year-old twins; he needs a wife and mother, and Eloise seems like she'll suit.
But it is not until after Eloise and Phillip are married (hastily, due to her impulsive decision to run away to his country house unchaperoned) that serious conflict stirs the plot in more interesting directions and allows the characters to finally sparkle. SENSUAL (Jul., 384 pp., $6.99)