Friday, September 28, 2012

My Fictional BFF, Kate Sheffield

Six months ago, I blogged about my favorite bad boy hero, Saint (from London's Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch). Now I'd like to tell you about my my favorite heroine, or as I like to call her, my fictional BFF, Kate Sheffield. This blog was first published over at Romance Novel TV, but now I would like to share it with our Romance Dish readers. WARNING: This blog contains possible spoilers for those who haven't read The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn...though, I'm pretty sure most of you have. *g*



My Fictional BFF, Kate Sheffield
 

There comes a time in every reader’s life when you read a book that just clicks on all levels – a flawless, much loved storyline, a dashing, sexy hero, a darling heroine you’d want as a best friend and the endearing secondary characters who become like family.  Such was the case for me with Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me.  The first time I read it I was completely blown away and it’s one of the few books that I’ve read multiple times.  It’s my “go to” book . . . my comfort read . . . and yes, my very favorite book.  It features one of the most popular and beloved heroes of all time, Anthony Bridgerton, the head of the well-known Bridgerton family.  But what would Anthony be without his leading lady, Kate?  Nothing, I tell you.  This blog is all about my girl, Kate. 

We first meet Katharine Grace Sheffield when she and her sister, Edwina, are embarking on their first London season together.  At twenty-one, Kate may seem a bit old to be having her debut, but her family only had enough funds for one trip to London, so they decided it best to do so when Edwina turned seventeen.  They are there with Kate’s stepmother and Edwina’s mother, Mary.  Right away, we learn three important things about Kate: she is fiercely loyal to her family, she is sensible, and she is completely selfless.  Despite the fact that her sister is this season’s “incomparable” and is beauty and grace personified, Kate doesn’t pout about it nor feels any jealously towards Edwina.  She accepts it as fact and is happy for and utterly devoted to her sister.  Who wouldn’t want a sister like that?  In fact, Edwina and Kate are so close, that Edwina pronounces that she will not marry anyone her sister does not deem worthy.  When Kate observes Edwina dancing with Viscount Bridgerton, the “reprehensible rogue”, her defenses are instantly raised.  There is no way that that rake is going to marry her sister.  Later, the viscount tells Kate that she is as lovely as her sister.  Big mistake, but Kate handles it very well.  “And you, Lord Bridgerton,” she replied in a tone that could have frozen champagne, “are almost as handsome as your brother.”  Heh.  Kate gives as good as she gets. 

Competitive only begins to describe how Kate is around Anthony at first.  In fact, it is their conflict and verbal sparring that absolutely drive this story.  Not to mention it creates some of the most memorable scenes in any historical romance, such as the Serpentine debacle and the infamous Bridgerton Pall Mall game.  Who doesn’t love that Kate, having picked the black “mallet of death”, deliberately sinks Anthony’s pink ball in the lake?  I could read that scene over and over and never tire of it. 

But it isn’t always combative between the two.  While it’s obvious they enjoy vexing each other, it’s even more obvious that there is a spark there.  The more they’re around each other, the more they want to be.  And Kate’s heart really softens towards Anthony when he does the one thing she doesn’t expect – he rescues her friend Penelope from the young lady hurling nasty insults at her by giving her the cut direct. 

. . . and in that moment Kate had the oddest feeling that she understood this man completely. 

But even stranger – suddenly she wasn’t so certain that he was the soulless, reprehensible rake she’d taken such comfort in believing him. 

“Did you see that?” 

Kate, who, along with the rest of the assembled company, had been staring openmouthed as Bridgerton led Penelope from the room, his head bent to hers as if she were the most fascinating woman ever to walk the earth, turned to see Edwina standing next to her. 

“I saw the whole thing,” Kate said in a dazed voice.  “I heard the whole thing.” 

“What happened?” 

“He was . . . he was . . .” Kate stumbled over her words, unsure of how to describe what exactly he’d done.  And then she said something she’d never thought possible: “He was a hero.” 

This is how I picture Kate. How fitting!
(Photo courtesy of biography.com)
At this point, poor Kate is torn.  She now knows the true Anthony Bridgerton and knows that he would indeed make a fine husband for Edwina.  Except that now she wants him for herself.  And then the unthinkable happens as they are forced to wed thanks to a pesky bee and the biggest gossip in London.  Yes, Kate wanted him, but not like this.  She may not be happy with the circumstances, but my girl is no idiot.  She knows the ramifications if they do not wed.  She accepts and suddenly Anthony has a revelation about his betrothed. 

With great reluctance, he slowly tore himself away from her, letting his hands rest on her slim shoulders and straightening his arms to keep himself far enough away so that he wouldn’t be tempted to continue where he’d left off. 

And the temptation was there.  He made the mistake of looking at her face, and in that moment he would have sworn that Kate Sheffield was every bit as beautiful as her sister. 

Hers was a different sort of attraction.  Her lips were fuller, less in fashion but infinitely more kissable.  Her lashes – how had he not noticed before how long they were?  When she blinked they seemed to rest on her cheeks like a carpet.  And when her skin was tinged with the pinks of desire, she glowed.  Anthony knew he was being fanciful, but when he gazed upon her face, he could not help thinking of the new dawn, of that exact moment when the sun was creeping over the horizon, painting the sky with its subtle palette of peaches and pinks. 

Wow.  What girl wouldn’t want to have someone feel that way about her?  But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?), despite what Anthony thinks of her, he tells Kate not to expect love from him.  They will always have a mutual friendship and respect, but never love.  Kate tells him that that is okay with her, but deep down inside, it’s not.  And Kate starts to become a little selfish.  Good for her! 

All her life, she’d been the one who’d received the second glance, the second greeting, the second kiss on the hand.  As the elder daughter, it should have been her due to be addressed before her younger sister, but Edwina’s beauty was so stunning, the pure and perfect blue of her eyes so startling, that people simply forgot themselves in her presence. 

Introductions to Kate were usually met with an embarrassed, “Of course,” and a polite murmured greeting while their eyes slid back to Edwina’s pure and shining face. 

Kate had never minded it much.  If Edwina had been spoiled or bad-tempered it might have been difficult, and in all truth, most of the men she’d met were shallow and silly, and she hadn’t much cared if they only took the time to acknowledge her after her sister. 

Until now. 

She wanted Anthony’s eyes to light up when she entered the room.  She wanted him to scan a crowd until he saw her face.  She didn’t need him to love her – or at least that’s what she was telling herself – but she desperately wanted to be first in his affections, first in his desires. 

And she had an awful, terrible feeling that all this meant she was falling in love. 

Falling in love with one’s husband – who would have thought it could be such a disaster? 

Well, it didn’t end up being a disaster, but it sure was a bit of an uphill battle for Anthony and Kate.  Anthony helps Kate conquer her biggest fear and she knows that what she feels for him in indeed love, though she doesn’t understand why Anthony can’t feel the same.  (Readers know that he believes he’ll die before he turns thirty-nine, as his father did.) Drinking himself into a stupor along with some shrewd advice from his brothers confirms to Anthony that he does love Kate and that it shouldn’t matter if he dies in five, eight, ten or fifty years from now.  What matters most is loving that one person with all your heart while you can. 

“I was so sure that it was the one thing that could make this . . . this . . . I don’t really know what to call it – this knowledge of my own mortality . . .” He raked his hands through his hair, fighting for words.  “Love was the only thing that was truly going to make that unbearable.  How could I love someone, truly and deeply, knowing that it was doomed?” 

“But it’s not doomed,” Kate said, squeezing his hand. 

“I know.  I fell in love with you, and then I knew.  Even if I am right, even if I’m fated to live only as long as my father did before me, I’m not doomed.”  He leaned forward and brushed a feather-light kiss on her lips.  “I have you,” he whispered, “and I’m not going to waste a single moment we have together.” 

Kate’s lips spread into a smile.  “What does that mean?” 

“It means that love isn’t about being afraid that it will all be snatched away.  Love’s about finding the one person who makes your heart complete, who makes you a better person than you ever dreamed you could be.  It’s about looking into the eyes of your wife and knowing, all the way to your bones, that she’s simply the best person you’ve ever known.”
 
Yes, all ends well for Kate and she absolutely deserves it.  We learn through her journey in finding her “happily ever after” that she is loyal, sensible, selfless (and a little selfish when the moment occurs), intelligent, witty, compassionate, honorable, vulnerable, strong in her convictions, stubborn when she needs to be and patient when she needs to be, as well.  Julia Quinn does a masterful job of not just telling us these things about Kate, but showing us.  We know that Kate is each of these and more, and I couldn’t ask for better qualities in a BFF, fictional or otherwise.

So, dear readers, as you can tell, I love this book and I absolutely adore its heroine, Kate Sheffield. Who are some of your most unforgettable heroines? What qualities do they have that make you feel that way? Please share!

29 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorites too! Now I have to go read it again.......LOL

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    1. Dianna, I believe it's time for my annual reread as well. :)

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  2. Andrea, what a wonderful post today! I reread TVWLM earlier this week when you and I were chatting on FB and you mentioned you were blogging about it today. I love JQ as an author and, along with RMB, TVWLM is one of my faves....which I hadn't remembered until I read it again. I think Kate is spunky and has a positive outlook on life. I agree, Princess Kate(Catherine) does come to mind when thinking about Kate S. It was great to meet up with Anthony and Kate again this week and today.

    My fave heroine is Penelope from RMB. She is shy and unsure of herself, but comes into her own with a quiet confidence and believes in her worth. Wonderfully and romantically, Colin also sees that in her, even though it has to smack him between the eyes because he didn't realize his love for her was there all along.

    Thanks again for a super post today!

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    1. Aww, thanks so much, Deb! After I read through this blog again, I determined that I need to read this one again. It's one of the few books that I do reread. So many great moments. :)

      Oh, I love Penelope, too. She certainly progressed beautifully during the first few books of the series and is the perfect partner for Colin. I love that book, too! I may need to reread it as well!

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  3. This book is one of my favorite rereads! I love Kate and Anthony.

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    1. Yay! Another person who rereads it! Thanks for stopping by Cheryl. :)

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  4. Ack, ack, ack - I have not read this book yet - I KNOW!!! But I have, of course, read Julia's books and loved them. So, afraid of spoilers, I did not read your post. But, again, another book on my tbb list (sigh).

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    1. Wow, I've never "met" someone who hasn't read it! lol Well, catslady, I hope you get to enjoy this one soon. Let me know when you do!

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  5. The MALLET OF DEATH... love it... catslady -- you MUST read this next!! We insist!!!

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    1. Yes!! One of the best-written, most beloved scenes EVER, isn't it girlygirl?! Love it. :)

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  6. I enjoy re-reading a favorite novel. It's like taking an old friend off the shelf and sitting down for a nice chat.

    To name a favorite heroine is impossible for me. There are so many that are favorites each in their own way. However, your pictures of Katherine made me think of Princess Diana. I admired her so much and to me she was a true heroine. She did so much to help so many people and I feel confident that her legacy will really live on through her sons and her new daughter-in-law.

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    1. I totally agree, Connie, with everything you said! I'm reading LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase (my first by her) and I am loving Jess!!! She may very well vault to the top 5 heroines!

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    2. Fabulous and thanks! Keep bringing on these great book suggestions!

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  7. i really love Kate! she's one of my favorites, along with daphne and violet, from the bridgerton series.

    Sienny

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  8. Hi Andrea!

    One reason I love Julia's books is that she doesn't "skimp" on her secondary characters! I'm thrilled that The ViscoKate is getting her own story in Kate is getting her own storyin the Viscount Who Loved Me!

    I think that Julia is the "Queen" of making you feel that each one of her characters is important and I can't remember reading one of her books that doesn't have secondary character that I don't want to have their own book! I have a feeling theat The Viscount Who Loved Me is going to be another one of those books so in my mind you can pick any of her books and you'll find one of my favorite secondary characters and after all who wants to choose just one!

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    1. You are so right, Jeanne. JQ does make readers care not only for the hero and heroine, but those secondary characters are pretty darn special, too! :)

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  9. Kate is wonderful, Andrea. But then I've never met a Julia Quinn heroine I didn't like. From Emma Dunster in Splendid to Anne Wynter in A Night Like This, they've all been appealing. I'd have a hard time choosing a favorite.

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    1. I forgot to say that Jessica Trent is one of my all-time favorite heroines. How wonderful to be reading Lord of Scoundrels for the first time.

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    2. I completely agree, Janga, that JQ writes extremely likable heroines. I promised you in a post at the beginning of the year that I would read LOS this year and I'm finally able to do so. Loving it!!

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  10. I think I need to reread this book. ;)

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  11. I know much you love Kate. :-) The black mallet of death is one of my favorite parts in that book. Hmmmmm, I think I'll reread it. I love the entire Bridgerton family.

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    1. Thanks, Gannon! It is totally a reread-worthy book!

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  12. One of my all-time favorite! I remember liking it so much that immediately after reading it the first time I went back to the first page and read it all over again. If I remember well, there is a *memorable* library scene that made me laugh so hard...the beauty of a JQ HRN, weak-in-the-knees romance and witty humor!

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    1. Yes! When Kate is hiding under the desk...and so on... ;-) Love it, Mina!

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  13. Wonderful blog, Andrea! I think TVWLM is also one of my all time favorites, Kate and Anthony always make me smile. When I went to the book signing event in Bellevue earlier this year, I had to make some hard decisions about which books I would take with me or buy for autographing by five of my favorite authors. TVWLM definitely made the cut! "It Happened One Autumn" by Lisa Kleypas is another one that I took along and it reminds me very much of the themes in play in TVWLM. What do you think?

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    1. Oh, I totally agree, Flora. It Happened One Autumn is one of my favorite Kleypas books because of the animosity/tension/sparks between Lillian and Marcus. I adore the "enemies to lovers" theme!

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