by Julia Quinn

May 1995
ISBN: 0-380-78074-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Emma Dunster positively, absolutely hated flower arranging. So given the choice of being covered in flour or pollen, she chose to bother Cook in helping with the preparations for her own ball. But in order to make enough cakes for four hundred people, one needs just about the same amount of eggs… and Emma, dressed in servant’s clothes, eagerly volunteers for a trip to the market.

Free to observe the world around her without being watched herself, American heiress Emma Dunster, happily walked the grimy London streets relishing her short-lived freedom. But, in diverting a small boy from being run over by a hack, Emma drops her eggs and rescues the boy in true heroic fashion. Except she is knocked senseless and wakes up in a closed carriage….

Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne sends his chatty sister and her young son away to replace the eggs that Emma had dropped. He wanted to be alone with the red-haired beautiful maid when she awoke, for reasons that, at the moment, escapes him. And thus, begins the courtship dance of Emma and Alex.

Splendid is romance at its best! Julia Quinn excels in developing a relationship between Alex and Emma that is neither hurried nor improbable. For the first three quarters of the story, there are no distractions between Emma and Alex’s budding romance and the reader is left to enjoy the verbal repartees that these two exchange. As for chemistry, Ms. Quinn is crackerjack in creating a sexual tension that is both sweet and heartwarming – nothing is more romantic than making a lover out of someone who has slowly become your best friend!

The secondary characters are just as fun! Emma’s English cousins, Arabella and Ned, are enjoyable as quasi-siblings whose interactions with Emma and each other amusing to read. There are no villains in both Alex and Emma’s familial relations and Ms. Quinn uses these relationships to highlight both character’s capacity for love, not to mention patience! Timeless scenes, such as Arabella being sent back up by her parents to change from her revealing gown shows that whenever dealing with family, nothing has really changed except for the time period!

Splendid is way beyond good – it’s excellent! And if you do decide to pick it up, you won’t be surprised to see that it fits perfectly in your keeper shelf.

Reviewed in June 2002 by Veronica.

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