So... The Viscount Who Loved Me. The name itself is a spoiler, I believe. Because Anthony is so fucking sure he can control whether he falls in love or not, and Kate just bloody knows no man, especially a handsome and rakish Viscount, could ever fall in love with her. And so it begins, as I eye roll for the first but not last time.
But let's be fair. I have never and probably never will claim not to be able to enjoy a cheesy, stereotypical and predictable romance. Sometimes I just do, and that's more than fine by me. I really do like liking things, whether or not they're "good quality". There are many things I don't particularly like feeling, but if a book gets me involved, even if that means hating with a fierce passion, it's doing its job.
Now, in my humble opinion, there are two things one should not feel while reading a book, novella, short story or any written work meant to entertain in any way, rather than strictly inform. Those two things are nothing or disbelief.
Feeling nothing is simply boring and forgettable. I used to think this was the worst imaginable thing that could happen to me while reading a book, but it's actually the worst for the author. If I'm completely underwhelmed by something, I put it aside and go on with my life.
The real problem is when I don't believe something, when I can practically see the author writing it. The story doesn't have to be realistic, it has to feel real. Even if you couldn't care less about it, a story you can picture is better than one that feels forced. And here I found my issue(s) with The Viscount Who Loved Me, which I'll address in five sections.
I can understand Kate's personality. I can understand, even if it is annoying, how unimpressive Kate feels next to her outstanding sister. Her self-pity, her necessity to be strong, her alleged selflessness. What I can't bring myself to understand, least of all believe, is her prejudice.
Kate hates Anthony Bridgerton before even meeting him. She hates him for his rakish ways, which she knows about because Lady Whistledown writes about them. She literally doesn't know anything else about him because she lives in the countryside and meets him at her first season.
All I'm saying is that Lizzie at least confused Darcy's inability to talk to new people and shyness for snobbishness (more than the average Darcy snobbishness, that is). Kate doesn't even get one look at Anthony and she's already making plans to avoid him and get him away from her sister. And, while I do love Kate's protectiveness towards Edwina and their relationship in general, here it went to a stupid level I could not possibly get.
Overall, Kate's feelings towards Anthony felt forced. Even when she does realize she's in love, I just wasn't convinced. Yes, I had the reasons why she supposedly has found her other half, but it felt like a bad acting with a poor screenplay.
To be honest, I'm fairly new to the HR genre. I'm not an expert by any means, so all my judgment comes from my little experience, but for a rake, Anthony was rather unoriginal and boring. Plus, his humor was as amusing and natural as Patch Cipriano's one-liners. (If you don't know who he is, lucky you.)
Alright. It also didn't help that I read Kleypas' Wallflowers series right before this and I kept comparing Anthony to Lord Westcliff and St. Vincent. Because somehow Anthony Bridgerton manages to be the worst mix of those two amazing characters.
Yes, this has its own section. Why? Because Anthony and Kate's daddy and mommy issues (respectively) took up half of the book. Anthony was all like, "BEES! MORTALITY! I WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH! AHHHHHHHHHH!" And then Kate went something like, "RAIN! THUNDERS! LIGHTNING! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Julia Quinn told me about their pain ALL THE TIME, but I never once felt it. Maybe it could have made a good argument, but the execution wasn't believable.
THE ROMANCE, THE SEX
Both were dull and seemed rehearsed. Since I'm not into erotica and I wasn't attached to the characters, the smut was utterly boring. I literally fell asleep during a sex scene and skimmed through the rest.
Although, it was kind of funny when they fought. Before they became pussies and regretted it, that is.
Here I declare myself completely inexperienced and uninformed for a lot of people's standards, yet this is how it felt for me.
There is nothing wrong with Quinn's writing. For a contemporary or futuristic story it would be more than decent. But for a story set in the 19th century, it was distracting. It is clear that this is a contemporary writer writing a historical book. Usually I wouldn't particularly mind (I didn't in The Duke and I), but I was honestly, truthfully, intensely taken aback by it. I'm not sure how to describe it. All I know is that I didn't feel like I was in the English Regency. It was more like 21st century, possibly in the USA.
Having said all that, I did give the book two and a half stars, didn't I? I attribute that to the Bridgerton family, the Bridgerton Pall Mall and the mystery of Lady Whistledown*. For all those reasons I will continue with the series since most of my friends didn't really love this installment either. The next one promises to be way better, even though the Cinderella trope tends to get on my nerves, in a bad way.