Based on the phenomenal growth of Quinn's popularity, and her four-week stint on the New York Times bestseller list with Romancing Mr Bridgerton, it's the perfect time to revisit Ms Quinn's 'splendid' storytelling.
American heiress Emma Dunster has always been fun-loving and independent with no wish to settle into marriage. She plans to enjoy her Season in London in more unconventional ways than husband-hunting. But this time Emma's high-jinks lead her into dangerous temptation...
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August 26, 2003
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Excerpt from Splendid by Julia Quinn
"You realize, of course, that there win be hell to pay if my mother catches us." Arabella Blydon looked over her costume with a skeptical eye. She and Emma had borrowed frocks from their maidsýmuch to their maids' dismayýand were presently creeping down the back stairs of Belle's London house.
"There will be a lot more hell to pay if she catches you swearing," Emma commented wryly.
"I really don't care. If I have to supervise one more flower arrangement for your party, I'm going to scream."
"I hardly, think a scream would be appropriate when we're meant to be sneaking down the stairs."
"Oh, hush," Belle muttered ungraciously, tiptoeing her way down another step.
Emma surveyed her surroundings as she followed her cousin. The back staircase was certainly a change from the one she and Belle usually used in the main hall, which curved gracefully and was cushioned with luxurious carpets from Persia. In contrast, the polished wooden steps of the back stairs were narrow, and the walls were whitewashed and unadorned. The quiet simplicity of the stairwell reminded Emma of her home in Boston, which was not decorated in the opulent London style. The Blydon mansion, located in fashionable Grosvenor Square, had been in their family for over a century and was filled with both priceless heirlooms and exceedingly bad portraits of the Blydons of yesteryear. Emma glanced back up at the plain walls and sighed softy as she fought back a pang of homesickness for her father.
"I cannot believe I'm creeping around my home like a burglar to avoid my mother," Belle grumbled as she reached the bottom of the first flight of stairs and rounded the corner to begin the second. "Frankly, I'd rather curl up in my room with a good book, but she's sure to find me there and make me go over the menu again."
"A fate worse than death," Emma murmured.