Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the
amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives
from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country
estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and
enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the
handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid
plans can go awry. From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a
seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an
unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her
mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or
will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something
other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to
Rating-- 4 1/2 Stars
I couldn't resist reading a good Regency romance this week, especially when I found a clean one with no heaving bosoms and relationships based on sex. Yay for "a proper romance!" I found Edenbrooke when I visited the Whitney Awards website. It is one of the nominations for best romance, and Regency romances are my favorite thing to read. I know, I know--I'm an action/adventure, and Fantasy writer. But if you have read Lunula, then you know I have a real soft spot for romance. I haven't tried my hand at writing a real romance, but they are my favorite to read.
With that said, I opened this book and loved it instantly. It made me laugh out loud on the second page, and about 30 pages in I remember thinking, "I can tell this book isn't going to be long enough. I don't want it to end!" It was such a treat to read something that made me jealous! I love being jealous about a writer. I learned things from the way Donaldson wrote, and I even went back and studied a scene to see how she so effortlessly brought me into the banter between the protagonist and her love interest. It was like literary candy!
So why the half star deduction? Okay, so here's my thing: I'm a picky reader, and especially so when it comes to romantic progression. Donaldson did a fantastic job of creating a seamless relationship between the protagonist and her love interest--their first meeting is one of my favorites of all time. But the problem I ran into was the affected anger Marianne had toward Phillip sometimes. It came off as forced. I understand that it's pretty funny when Marianne is angry with Phillip, and trust me, those are some of my favorite kinds of plots. I love it when they both hate each other first and then come to like each other. It's probably because my own love story with my husband is similar.
But sometimes it just felt made up for the purpose of entertainment. It didn't really flow all the time. I think Marianne had every right to be mad at him in some instances, but for the most part, he was a perfect gentleman. It just didn't always make sense.
BUT even after all that, this will remain a favorite. Donaldson wrote with humor, heart, and real wit, and for a debut author, I have to tell you that I am incredibly impressed. Jealous. In awe. I love it! I'm so glad she has been nominated for an award because she absolutely deserves it. My advice? Read it immediately!