Book Review: What Happens in London


The front cover of the novel
Image courtesy of Julia Quinn

What Happens in London, the 2009 novel by Julia Quinn, focuses on the slow-burning relationship between Olivia Bevelstoke and Sir Harry Valentine. These two characters both begin spying on each other — but for very different reasons. One has heard rumors the other has committed murder, and one believes the other is engaged to a foreign dignitary thought to be plotting against England. Whatever their original motive for spying may have been, the pair certainly never intended to scope out true love.


Olivia Bevelstoke becomes privy to the rumors her new neighbor, Sir Harry Valentine, murdered his fiancée — and though she doesn’t believe this, can spying on him hurt? Luckily, her bedroom window overlooks the window of Sir Harry’s office, so she can easily investigate while hidden away by her curtains. However, little does she know that Sir Harry actually works as a translator for the War Office, and has completed extensive training that makes him very aware he’s being watched by the blonde across the street. Sir Harry, thinking Olivia to be a bored debutante and nothing more, is suddenly informed she is the very person the War Office wants him to keep an eye on. Harry is curious as to why the War Office would single her out — surely she couldn’t be a spy? Olivia is far from a spy; she just happens to be getting very close to a foreign prince who might be plotting against England. Harry, though initially annoyed by his assignment, finds himself beginning to watch Olivia with a certain intensity, pushing the enemies-to-lovers trope to the front of the narrative. Will Harry uncover an unsettling truth about Olivia and the prince, or will Olivia simply turn Harry’s world upside down?


I’m not one to shy away from my interest in romance novels — or Julia Quinn historical romance novels to be more specific. This was her first novel I had read aside from the Bridgerton series and I can honestly say it’s one of my favorites. This book is simply charming. The characters, dialogue, humor and the enemies-to-lovers trope all combine to create a world that draws you in — and one you never want to leave.


By Rylee Petty, Staff Writer

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