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Review: What Happens in London, Julia Quinn

When Sir Harry Valentine moves in next door to Lady Olivia Bevelstoke and her family in London, rumors start to fly.  Olivia hears that he killed his fiancee and she starts watching him through her bedroom window, convinced he can’t see her but perplexed when he wears strange hats and throws papers into the fire.  She decides that he is a very peculiar man.  Harry, trained by the War Office, knows Olivia is spying on him, but it’s not until they meet that he hears the rumor that a Russian prince is after her, a Russian prince who may be a danger to the state, and that he must stay near her.  Forced to stay close together, Harry and Olivia learn that rumors aren’t the only thing that happens in London; love does too.

This lacks the intensity of a truly great romance novel but is a funny, heartwarming read anyway.  Olivia and Harry make so cute a couple that in real life, half of us would be a little sick watching them.  Julia Quinn is great at building a friendship bond between the characters, making a relationship that is way beyond passion, and that’s certainly true here, since there is only one love scene and if I recall correctly, it isn’t even very long.  Possibly it’s that lack of intense chemistry which is missing, but we’re still left with the feeling that this couple will be very happy together.  There are some adorably romantic scenes, like the many window conversations the couple has, particularly when they read to each other across the short distance.  Quinn includes another hilariously bad pulp novel which results in some very entertaining scenes.

I also felt that the suspense plot fizzled a little.  There is an event towards the end which didn’t fit quite as well with the quirky, cute tone of the book, trying to add in more suspense.  I just felt it was somewhat annoying, even if it served a purpose in the plot.  The ending, however, made up for that with some of the sweetest scenes I’ve ever read.  After the cringefest that was The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, I am relieved, and look forward to her future work.  What Happens in London is not as great as the Bridgerton books, but worth a read for romantics.

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