21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Not the best of the Bridgertons, but charming nonetheless.,
By A Customer
This review is from: To Sir Philip, with Love (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the fifth title in Julia Quinn's series of (hopefully) 8 stories about the Bridgerton siblings. Like many books of this genre, all are fairly cheesy and not entirely historically or culturally accurate! In ‘To Sir Philip, With Love’, Eloise Bridgerton finds her one true love in Sir Philip Crane, and they all live happily ever after. No surprise there, then.
This book, like the others before it, is likely to make you smile. Perhaps even broadly at times. But for me, there was no laughing aloud as in Daphne and Simon's story (‘The Duke and I’) neither were there any seriously engaging feelings of empathy as in Anthony and Kate's book (‘The Viscount who Loved Me’). In those books, the heroines had character (albeit rather similar personalities, but Quinn won my approval by acknowledging that early on in the second book) and the heroes were (typically!) very arrogant and very sexy. To put it bluntly, the personalities in ‘An Offer from a Gentleman’ (Benedict and Sophie) I didn’t find terribly exciting and for most of ‘Romancing Mr Bridgerton’ (Colin and Penelope), I found the story, and particularly the attraction between Colin and Penelope, mostly implausible and not very romantic at all! In each of those two books, and again in this one, I had the distinct sense that Quinn was trying very hard to balance the need to distinguish each character from the next (or the last), with that of maintaining a level of familiarity for the reader with each of the Bridgertons. She didn’t quite manage it in my opinion, but to be fair, I have admired her departure from the archetypal angry (but deep down just scared), arrogant (but really just wanting to be loved), and borderline cruel hero in all of the last 3 in the Bridgerton series, which isn’t typical of historical romances. Colin and Benedict Bridgerton really are just nice guys!
Perhaps too much is made of the relative extremity of each of the siblings’ personalities in preceding books, so that Quinn doesn’t feel completely free to be totally adventurous with the characters in their own subsequent stories. But to be fair, little quirks like Colin’s huge appetite and Anthony’s fear of bees reappear in some of the other stories and the familiarity really can be quite charming.
Eloise and Philip's story is sweet enough, but the level of character development really isn't a patch on some of the other books. I was disappointed with Philip as a dashing, sexy hero (although at times felt there was so much potential), and Eloise I found mostly predictable (although I will admit that having a tendency to talk too much and to be quite direct myself might have had a lot to do with that!). The passion between them wasn’t entirely overwhelming either, and, let’s face it, that’s why one reads a book like this. Disappointingly, the banter between Eloise and Philip really could have been from any of the other Bridgerton books with the names merely swapped over, and I think if I had to read another book where they heroes were married by special licence, I might have to rip my hair out! Although, to be fair, in ‘Romancing Mr Bridgerton’, Colin and Penelope actually had a fairly decent wait of a couple of months before they were married.
More generally, the Bridgerton boys playing superheroes on horseback every time one of their sister's reputations is ‘at stake’, at what must be now over 40 years old (the eldest - Anthony - at least) really just gets a tad ridiculous and fairly tedious once you've seen it for the 5th time. But then, scenes like that may be part of the Bridgerton appeal, after all, I’ve now read all five, and am looking forward to the 6th (although to be honest, not as eagerly as I did some of the earlier books). As an aside, for those of us familiar with the other Bridgerton books, I wrote Julia Quinn an email right after I read Benedict’s story – I was convinced I knew who Lady Whistledown was and it turned out I was right! She wouldn’t say either way though and I had to wait almost a whole year to find out. Sad, isn’t it?
‘To Sir Philip, With Love’ is all very light-hearted, and an easy enough read, but not the funniest, and certainly not the most engaging of the Bridgerton tales. I'm loathe to criticise my beloved Bridgertons, but I’d say that 'To Sir Philip, With Love' is one whose appeal is much greater if read as part of the entire series. Nevertheless, another of the ever-charming Bridgerton stories, and one can’t help but look forward to the next.