A series of careless, unintended actions leads to his friend, Hugh's, leg (and life) shattered forever and results in Daniel Smythe-Smith's extended stay on the Continent. Aimless and unfettered, he lives a life of no responsibilities but it is not a life without worries. Hugo's father, the Marquess of Ramsgate's, threat continues to ring in Daniel's ears and the shadow of danger follows Daniel constantly.
Until Hugh finds him after three years and tells him he can finally come home.
Knowing the Smythe-Smiths, anyone else would have refused to go home to this exuberant, high-spirited (and tone deaf) family -- but, for Daniel, home is truly the best and sweetest place.
His homecoming is made sweeter still when he meets Anne Wynter, governess to his cousins.
She looked up.
Time stopped. It simply stopped. It was the most maudlin and cliched way of describing it, but those few seconds when her face was lifted toward his ... they stretched and pulled, melting into eternity.
She was beautiful. But that didn't explain it. He'd seen beautiful women before. He'd slept with plenty of them, even. But this ... Her ... She ...
Even his thoughts were tongue-tied.
- p. 25
But Anne's the last person who would welcome the attentions of an earl ... or of anyone, for that matter. She's happy to fade into the background, doing everything to not call attention to herself.
For Anne is also living a life of constant fear -- fear that her past will finally catch up with her -- A youthful indiscretion. A ruined reputation. A family who refuses to acknowledge her anymore. And a scorned, injured former lover who is intent on injuring her.
They know they shouldn't pursue the attraction that they feel.
They know nothing good would ever come of it.
But they surrender and enjoy the temporary respite of each other's company and, just when Daniel and Anne start to slowly believe that they can have a different life (a more peaceful, threat-free one), their past ones come crashing into their current lives.
Lives are endangered. Accidents happen. But who is the target? Is it Daniel bringing danger into their lives? Or is it Anne?
Fight or flight? This is the question. The first time around, both chose to run away from their problems and their lives. But now, when more is at stake -- when love is at stake, which will they choose?
This was a pleasant read -- part of the charm of the book hinges on one's previous experience of the Smythe-Smiths (in the Bridgerton novels) -- I see this as a plus and a minus:
Plus: The Smythe-Smiths constantly teased us with their presence in the Bridgerton stories and, even then, one could sense they were unique people with very interesting stories: known for their annual musicale, which despite its (bad) reputation preceding it, everyone attends it.
I'm glad that the spotlight is finally on the Smythe-Smiths -- they were dangerously close to becoming stock characters. Julia Quinn has given them dimension -- and have enhanced the romance of their family's annual tradition.
Minus: Because they are characters from the Bridgerton series, comparisons are inevitable. And, sadly, the Smythe-Smiths' stories don't have the same sparkle as the Bridgerton stories.
Daniel and Anne's story lacked substance and depth -- Quinn's trademark quirkiness is present but this story felt a bit flat.
I didn't like the part where they were rehearsing for the play. (Chapters 10 and 11) It didn't really serve to flesh out our hero and heroine or to deepen their relationship.
The best part of this story is how the author writes about family dynamics. The Smythe-Smiths are fun -- and I could understand why Daniel was so eager to come home to them. It was also bittersweet that Anne is embraced by this family when her own has shunned her completely.
And there is Hugh, second son of Lord Ramsgate -- and the reason why Daniel left. He's actually more likable and more compelling than the main characters. (see pages 85-87)
A Night Like This is the second book in Julia Quinn's Smythe-Smith Quartet. The third book in the series, Sarah and Hugh's story, will be released in May 2013.
To find our more about the author and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.