What Happens In London is the second book in the Bevelstoke series by Julia Quinn. The book was published by Piatkus on 23rd July 2009 and it is 336 pages long.
Olivia Bevelstoke (who we previously met in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever) is 21 and still unmarried which causes quite a few in the ton to gossip behind her back. It isn't that Olivia has a lack of offers but she just doesn't want to accept any of them, knowing there is someone perfect for her out there. When Sir Harry Valentine moves in next door, the gossip mongers are out in full force, saying that he killed his fiancé. Olivia doesn't really believe the rumours to begin with but considering that his window is across the way from hers, she cant help spying on him to see if she can find anything out.
Sir Harry Valentine works for the War Office only no one really knows that. He has had all the training of a spy although he isn't one, he just translates documents that are extremely important. When the beautiful girl next door starts spying on him, Harry is both suspicious and intrigued. Although he knows that Olivia is spying on him, the first time they meet, he doesn't exactly tell her that he knows.
When a Russian Prince comes to town, maybe plotting against the country, Harry is hired to look after Olivia and spy on the Prince, who is quite taken with her. Forced to spend a lot of time together, two people who didn't think they liked each other very much at all begin to get a lot closer than they should.
What I thought
What I love about Julia Quinn's books is that they are more light hearted and fun compared to some of the other historical romances that I read. Harry gives Olivia a gift in the form of a gothic novel called 'Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron' and this is where a lot of the comedy in the book comes from. Olivia is a big disgusted with her gift at first because she doesn't read anything apart from the daily newspaper. She has no qualms in telling Harry that it isn't her thing at all but he makes her a deal: if she reads it all, so will he. The pair often have conversations through their windows and this is how they start reading the book together. I loved it when Olivia was totally horrified by how bad the book was but Harry was determined that she read it from start to finish without only reading the interesting parts.
Harry and Olivia as main character were wonderful but they were also helped by some of the minor characters. Harry is quite adamant that he doesn't like Olivia when they first meet and the same goes for Olivia but when they spend a bit of time talking through the windows, they find that they actually get on quite well. The story seems more real to me when the main characters don't fall in love at first sight on either side because relationships take work and it would never normally happen that way. The build up to them both realising how much they like each other was very entertaining and enjoyable to read.
Harry's cousin, Sebastian, was another of my favourite characters and I am hoping that he gets his own book someday. Most of the time he seems like he is a bit of a pain for Harry, always asking for favours but never returning them. Sebastian was very funny and always up for some excitement but a totally different side of him came out when he began to read the silly book.
There are quite a few aspects of this story that aren't 100% in my eyes and I'm not sure if this was down to bad research or lazy writing. There are times throughout that Olivia is alone with one or numerous men, including Harry, in her own house. It is stated quite early on that her parents aren't always around so much but they were in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever so I don't know why this changed. In Regency times, this would never have happened without causing a huge scandal so there are times when this story isn't historically correct.
Overall though, this is an enjoyable book that is a little different to Quinn's other work. There is a fair amount of comedy but it is mixed well with the romance side to the story as well as some excitement near the end. Thoroughly enjoyable but not her best work.