Brighter Than the Sun by Julia Quinn is not a terrible book. It has many of the trademark Quinn qualities that I love. The dialogue is great. There are many funny interactions. And in this book, there is more than one incredibly colorful minor character.
But I just couldn’t get past the fact that I could not stand the heroine. Ellie is a supposed to be a strong, capable woman, but instead she comes off as an obnoxious know-it-all.
As the book begins, Ellie is walking along a path as a man falls onto her from a tree. That man is our hero: Charles Wycombe, the Earl of Billington. In the fall, Charles injures his ankle, and Ellie offers to help him back to his carriage in town.
By the time the two arrive at the carriage, Charles has asked Ellie to be his wife. Never mind that she’s a vicar’s daughter, or that they’ve just met. Charles needs a wife within the next two weeks or he will lose his fortune.
When she returns home, Ellie also realizes that she wants to marry quickly in order to get out of her father’s house. It’s not her father who is the problem, but his new fiancée, who, for Ellie, is unbearable.
On a certain level, I find the entire premise of the story to be odd. Not because it’s a marriage of convenience — I’ve read an enjoyed many convenience romances — but because, after Ellie leaves her home, Quinn spends the entire book repeatedly telling the reader that Ellie can survive and make the best of anything. Yet, Ellie never even makes an attempt to survive living with her father’s new fiancée. For me, the action she takes in marrying Charles simply doesn’t fit with her headstrong and determined personality. In addition, Ellie is said to be reasonable and pragmatic, and marrying a man who fell on her from a tree is hardly reasonable.
Anyhow, Ellie marries and moves into Charles’ home under the condition that the couple doesn’t consummate their marriage before Ellie is ready. When Ellie arrives at Wycombe Abbey, she is greeted by Charles’ four female relatives, each of whom live at the abbey. I loved Charles’ Aunt Cordelia, who is a bit senile, and his six-year-old cousin Judith, who is adorable.
His 14-year-old cousin, Claire, though immediately hates Ellie. And when everything Ellie touches begins to break, Ellie wonders if Claire has anything to do with it.
When someone begins targeting Charles, though, those living at Wycombe Abbey realize that someone dangerous is around. Can Ellie use her sensibility to help save her new husband, before it’s too late?
There really are a lot of injuries in this book, and after a while it becomes a bit tiresome. It seems as if Ellie or Charles or both are getting seriously injured in every chapter. In addition, there are some really absurd situations in this book. I mentioned that Charles fell out of a tree to meet Ellie (though it never became clear why he was in the tree). In another chapter, Ellie and Charles find themselves smashed together inside a fireplace in a tenants’ home. Odd. Certainly, no one can accuse Quinn of a lack of creativity.
In all, I enjoyed certain parts of Brighter than the Sun, though I found Ellie to be overbearing and entirely unlikable. The story isn’t exactly close to historically accurate, but I’m OK with that. If I wanted to read history, I would pick up a history book.
Would I recommend Brighter Than the Sun ? No, I don’t think so. I would say pick up one of Quinn’s other books, instead. With the exception of Dancing at Midnight, the others are much better.
Also, when I did an image search for this book, I noticed that I totally got jipped, as my book does NOT have the above back cover/step back. What the heck! lol