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A Night Like This
by Julia Quinn
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) 978-0-06-207290-0
****
Daniel Smythe-Smith, the Earl of Winstead, has just returned to London. He's been gone for three years due to a duel gone wrong and the threats on his life afterwards. It's safe now and he has sorely missed his family, so he rushes home to be with them and take back his responsibility as Earl. He happens to return just in time for the annual Smythe-Smith musicale where all the single women of the family play instruments...badly. He's enjoying the show, but is mystified by the woman at the piano who is definitely not a Smythe-Smith.

Anne Wynter is the governess for the young Smythe-Smith girls and finds herself sucked into playing piano at the family musicale in place of the usual piano player who is ill. She's horrified to be playing in front of so many people and rushes away when the performance is over. She runs into the recently returned Daniel in the hallway and he's definitely a flirty bachelor. Anne is attracted to Daniel as any sane woman would be, but she plans to stay clear of him.

Anne grew up in northern England and while she wasn't from a titled family, her family was well-respected and affluent. She was in love with a man there, but found out that he was just using her. On the night she thought he would propose, the man revealed his true feelings and when he expected her to go to bed with him anyway, she cut his cheek with a knife in self defense. In order to save her family from embarrassment, she was ordered to leave the area and never return.

Anne, whose real name is Annelise Shawcross, has always wanted the happily ever after, but knew her future was damaged that one night her fate was determined. With Daniel now paying attention to her and not letting her forget about him, she may have to drop her defenses and allow the dream to come true.

A Night Like This is a tale of two people with pasts they would rather forget. They are both strong characters in their own right and it makes the story even more compelling. There are several plot twists that keep the story going and the pacing is well done with no boring moments.

This is my first Julia Quinn novel, which I was excited to read based on the praise I've heard. While this story is not a breakaway form the norm sort of plot, it is an enjoyable read.

--Nichole Howell


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