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Must Love Breeches is a light hearted time-travel HR — a reverse Kate and Leopold, where a modern girl with baggage, ends up in 1834 London. With fine writing and a witty plot, it grabbed me from the start!
But, to be completely honest, I was prepared to be disappointed, since so many of the books with a similar plot have usually failed due to overly plucky and strident heroines, who come across as arrogant or TSTL. Fortunately, Angela Quarles is a terrific writer who handles this tricky sub-genre with a deft hand. Bravo!
The lead heroine, Isabelle, is a history professional. She loves Austen, and the British Museum, and all things antique. Upon finding herself in London in 1834, her reactions — and her denial — feel real, and not at all overdone. And as the implications of her situation dawn on her, that she is truly stuck there, it’s fun to watch her find her footing amid all the pitfalls of trying to pass as someone from another age. (I particularly enjoyed watching while she tried to remember what she'd read in novels and history books!)
The narration by Mary Jane Wells, is extremely well done, and worthy of the story, as she enhances the experience of the book immensely. While she initially reads Isabelle with a flat American accent, but soon softens it, as the character makes an effort to sound more like the people around her, and her American accent becomes very pleasant to listen to. VERY WELL DONE, indeed!
(I shudder to think what a less skilled narrator could have done to this book, and hope Ms. Quarles chooses to continue to use MJW!)
The romance, particularly the sex scene, is a masterpiece. Beautifully written and performed, and true to the era in which it occurs, it held me enthralled. Phineas, (great name!) is a true gentleman of his time, and behaves accordingly, showing all the care and respect one would expect, without stepping back from the passion when it counts. I loved how true to the situation that scene was, perhaps more so when compared to those in many of the usual HR’s, where rakes normally prevail. I found it deeply affecting, romantic, and very sexy. I think Ms Quarles is very talented.
Naturally, there is a mystery, with dastardly bad guys, and enough action to keep the book moving at a good steady clip, but it never overwhelms the romance, and gives 1834 London it’s due in atmosphere and description, peopled as it is with great thinkers of it's age. Neither does it become overly violent or unduly melodramatic, which I appreciated. The Epilogue ties things up nicely, and is not to be missed.
There is another book in this series, Must Love Chainmail, and as I do, I can’t wait to read it. I hope it will come to Audible very soon, with Mary Jane Wells, or someone equally talented, doing the narration. Enjoy!
FYI: I was very fortunate to receive this book (from Audioblast!) for an honest review. Lucky me!
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Must Love Breeches in three words, what would they be?
Did Angela Quarles change her timeline midway through? I enjoyed the story, but there are little details that really bugged me. She spent so much time emphasizing Isabelle's cell phone at the beginning and the details about the phone indicate she's probably from at least the early 2000's because it sounds like a smartphone. Isabelle also repeatedly talks about how things are supposed to change over the next 150 years while she's back in 1834, but then the dates given in the epilogue totally screw up the timeline. It's missing at least 40 years. She goes back to 1834, they're married for 30 years, and then she says she'll be born in another 80 years.... In the epilogue, Isabelle says that she was born in 1944 and would then travel back from 1973.... Her age would be right since she's supposed to be 29, but then how the heck is she supposed to have a smartphone that sounds like it's from the 2000's? It doesn't fit! I know the point of the story is to immerse yourself in the romance, but these details are super annoying.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about Must Love Breeches? What did you like least?
I liked all the story. I least like repeated facts.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
What about Mary Jane Wells’s performance did you like?
It was good.
If this book were a film would you go see it?
Yes. This would be a nice TV movie.
It's so rare to find such a well written historical romance that is as romantic as it is plot (not sex) driven. This was such an enjoyable story and so wonderfully narrated that it successfully sent me to the author's website and now I'm off to the next in series!