3rd in the Bevelstoke series by Julia Quinn, Ten Things I Love About You is the story of Sebastian Grey and Annabel Winslow. Neither of whom are Bevelstokes. According to Julia Quinn, the aforementioned series is not about a particular family, rather, it is a series in which secondary characters of preceding novels get their own stories.
Sebastian Grey is the heir presumptive to the Earl of Newbury who hates him for simply existing. The earl had always been insulting towards his nephew and Sebastian had taught himself not to be bothered by it. Cultivating an image of a man of no means had been easy for him as he could be found at his cousin Sir Harry Valentine’s place almost all the time and especially for the breakfast.
After he came back from a war, yes, he is a soldier, he is troubled by insomnia. The man could not sleep however he tries. His exhaustive demeanor has become sort of a certification to society of his nocturnal pursuits that earned him a place in the ranks of the rogues. He would lie awake in his bed and weave tales (if he were for real, he may kill me for saying he weaved tales). He would perfect the descriptions in his mind and then would put those descriptions on paper.
His insomnia made him an author. A published author. An author who wrote lurid gothic novels (as described by his cousin).
Annabel Winslow is a born and bred country girl who has apparently become the one who must find a way to support her family after her father’s death. Being an era where women had no professions whatsoever, her only way forward is marriage. Marriage to a man who can afford to keep a large family. A man who could pay for Annabel’s brothers’ tuition and set dowry for her sisters. It is all about her duty to her family.
Her maternal grandparents, who were no fan of Annabel’s parents match, decided to give her a season in London and proceeded to get her married to the Earl of Newbury who is as old as her grandfather. The man wants to gets married so that he could sire an heir (as his son had died recently without having a son of his own) so that the earldom does not go to his nephew (Sebastian Grey, of course) whom he detests and hates with everything within him for no apparent reason.
Sebastian Grey meets Annabel Winslow and likes her immediately. He is not aware that this is the woman his uncle wants to make his bride. Annabel keeps the knowledge from him as well as she had asked him to kiss her without knowing that he was the nephew of the man she was supposed to marry.
Annabel’s reputation starts to deteriorate after she converses freely with Sebastian at the opera. With accusations flying left, right and centre and scandal the imminent result, Sebastian walks back in to the picture and plays the part of a man smitten with the object of his attention. This, in turn, makes Newbury run to get a special license so that he can marry Annabel post haste.
Alas, Annabel realises that she cannot marry this overweight pompous ass even if it meant her family’s well-being (she ought to have realised that early as Sebastian did mention that he may not be as rich as Newbury but he was not a pauper) and accepts Sebastian’s proposal.
It may as well have been the end of the novel, but no. There is more drama to unfold.
Newbury visits Annabel’s bedchamber the same night as he plans to rape her. She saves herself with well placed kicks in the right place. Somehow Newbury loses consciousness before she can hit him with a poker and she assumes that he is dead. He is not. But that is a story for another time as Sebastian arrives as well followed by Annabel’s grandmother who actually saves the day.
With Sarah Gorely as their secret and three grey-eyed children they are still journeying on the road of their happily ever after.
All in all, it is an amazing and entertaining read. I give it five stars.