Series Review: Agents of the Crown by Julia Quinn

Series Review: Agents of the Crown by Julia QuinnTo Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn
Series: Agents of the Crown #1
Published by Avon on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

When Caroline Trent is kidnapped by Blake Ravenscroft, she doesn't even try to elude this dangerously handsome agent of the crown. After all, she's been running from unwanted marriage proposals. Yes, Blake believes she's a notorious spy named Carlotta De Leon, but for six weeks until her twenty-first birthday, when she'll gain control of her fortune, hiding out in the titillating company of a mysterious captor is awfully convenient -- and maybe just a little romantic, too.

Blake Ravenscroft's mission is to bring "Carlotta" to justice, not to fall in love. His heart has been hardened by years of intrigue, but this little temptress proves oddly disarming and thoroughly kissable. And suddenly the unthinkable becomes possible -- that this mismatched Couple might be destined for love.

My Julia Quinn binge continues to be one of the best things about 2017. Agents of the Crown isn’t her best series by any means, but I still read both books quickly and enjoyed the whole experience. Her books just make me happy, even when they half-heartedly attempt to be badass thrillers like these two do.

To Catch an Heiress starts out poorly. At the outset, Caroline Trent has just shot her guardian’s son, said guardian having encouraged his son to rape Caroline so that they will be forced to wed. It’s a really fucked up thing, and it’s going to get thrown aside, except for lols from that point on. In fact, there’s a whole lot of trauma in Caroline’s past, but very little of it is focused on in a sad way; Blake’s fiancee’s death is played for much more sympathy. That kept To Catch an Heiress from being a favorite, despite how much I love the ship.

But I DO love the ship. Well, once you get past the uncomfortable start. Blake takes Caroline into custody thinking she’s a Spanish spy. She fights back but then realizes she can just hang out courtesy of the crown until she comes into her inheritance in a matter of weeks. Caroline’s clever in her attempts to frustrate Blake’s inquiries, which is cute. What’s less cute is the way that Blake thinks sexy thoughts about her at this point, and this is one case where I really didn’t want early kissing.

On the plus side, the whole spy thing gets cleared up pretty soon. Once Caroline’s identity and Blake’s profession come out, the book ascends to a really awesome level (as long as you can ignore the terrible opening, which I could but totes legit if you can’t). Blake and Caroline have this amazing snarky banter thing going. She frustrates him endlessly basically but he also can’t help being charmed by her, which no duh I ship that.

Caroline’s a darling who always wants to HELP with everything. Because she doesn’t want to be packed off since she’s not the spy, she replants Blake’s garden and organizes Blake’s library. She’s open and loving and optimistic, because she wants to make the best of any good thing that comes her way. The hijinks end up being incredibly hilarious, like how Blake’s servants actively work against him when he makes Caroline unhappy and when she ends up having to live in his bathroom because humorous reasons.

To Catch an Heiress would have benefited greatly from embracing the fluff much earlier. The spy plot line is half-assed, and there’s so much really dark shit at the opening that doesn’t get used only to make things really problematic. I’m probably over-rating this, but excellent ship and it made me cackle in some parts so here we are.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Series Review: Agents of the Crown by Julia QuinnHow to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn
Series: Agents of the Crown #2
Published by Avon on March 17, 2009
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

She’s trying to follow the rules…

When Elizabeth Hotchkiss stumbles upon a copy of How to Marry a Marquis in her employer’s library, she’s convinced someone is playing a cruel joke. With three younger siblings to support, she knows she has to marry for money, but who might have guessed how desperate she’s become? A guidebook to seduction might be just the thing she needs—and what harm could there be in taking a little peek?

…But he’s making his own

James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, has been summoned to rescue his aunt from a blackmailer, a task that requires him to pose as the new estate manager, and his primary suspect is his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth. Intrigued by the alluring young woman with the curious little rulebook, he gallantly offers to help her find a husband… by practicing her wiles on him. But when practice becomes all too perfect, James decides that there is only one rule worth following—that Elizabeth marry her marquis.

With How to Marry a Marquis, Quinn pretty much abandons the whole spy thing, which was a good call. Instead, there’s a really cute set up and Blake’s spy friend James, which unfortunately is a bit wasted on some sloppy execution and characterization. It’s still cute, but this one could have been amazing.

Elizabeth has raised her three younger siblings on what little they inherited when their father died and her salary as companion to Lady Danbury. Unfortunately, the well has run dry, and Elizabeth’s salary will not continue to support them. Desperate, Elizabeth determines to marry for money. When she spots a little book called How to Marry a Marquis in Lady Danbury’s library, she can’t resist grabbing it. Conveniently, Lady Danbury invited her nephew, the Marquis of Riverdell, to come stay, ostensibly to search for a blackmailer. He’s undercover as an estate manager. If you can’t tell Lady Danbury is a matchmaker and shipper, you have not read enough. FYI, Lady Danbury is my FAVE.

While the set up is cute and aspects of the story really made me smile, I never really got a hold on who Elizabeth is. She’s a bit all over the place, which made it hard to really invest in this relationship. They mostly seem to like each other because they’re hot, and that’s really just not enough of a connection for me. The secondary characters very much steal the show in this one (Lady Danbury and her cat holla). Also, though I loved James from the prior book, I couldn’t tell why he was so into Elizabeth initially and his reasons for not confessing earlier are so weak. If he’s actually a good spy, he would have figured out what was up waaaaay faster.

So much promise and lacking the problematic elements of the prior book, but unfortunately lacking the shippy spark too.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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