How did I miss this coming out? I have no idea. It was one of those books that was on my radar, and the release date seemed so far away, and then suddenly it's up for a Goodreads Choice Award because it's been out for literally months and I never noticed. I love Julia Quinn (mostly) so I rushed to get it when I realized that it was, indeed, available.
Because of Miss Bridgerton is the first book in Quinn's new series, featuring the Rokesby family. This family is the neighbors of the Bridgerton family, who are of course the stars of Quinn's main romance series. In this series, the time period is significantly earlier than in the Bridgerton series, taking place during the American Revolution rather than in the Regency period when most of Quinn's books are set. The main characters are Sybilla "Billie" Bridgerton, a tomboy and the oldest child of the Bridgerton family who essentially runs the estate associated with Aubrey Hall, and George Rokesby, the heir to the neighboring earldom. Billie has run wild with George's younger brothers Edward and Alex for years, until Edward went off to fight in the war (for the British, of course) and Alex joined the navy. But now Alex is back, and his very presence is grating on George, who can't go off and do the same things because he's the heir, just as Alex and Billie's friendship seems to grate on him. After all, Billie has always thought she'd marry Edward of Alex (either would do) while she and George have been nuisances to each other at best. But when the book starts, George finds himself rescuing Billie from where she's stuck on a roof, where she ended up after trying to save a cat. And of course, things progress from there...
There's not a ton of plot to this other than the romance, which is fine by me. Several of the romance I've read recently (*coughMarryingWinterbornecough*) have relied on plot rather than romance, and they haven't really worked out well. It was refreshing to go back to a simple romance, which concentrates on the building of attraction and romance between the two main characters rather than on tying in convoluted subplots that make the whole story seem rather less believable. If there is a subplot to be had here, it's a simple one, of George coming to terms with his own place in maintaining the family and country rather than defending Britain through serving in the army or navy, and of Billie growing up, gaining maturity, and starting to loosen the deathgrip she's kept on her family's lands. It's a character plot rather than an intrigue plot, and that was just fine with me--and so was watching every other person realize what was between George and Billie before they did! It has the feel of being a slow burn, even though the timeline actually isn't one, and that was great; it's one of my favorite feels for romances these days.
Quinn has had some serious missteps in the past, but I think that over the years she's really grown as a writer and come to terms with what is actually acceptable in a modern romance. She can write a truly delightful romance that doesn't rely on too many frills, and they're very refreshing after stories in which everyone is rushing around being spies or hiding Dark Family Secrets. A delightful story is exactly what this is, and that's all that I wanted from it. My only complaint it didn't last long enough!
5 stars out of 5.