Rating – 3 stars.
Browsing Netgalley’ titles last month I had come across a book called Blackmoore: A Proper Romance – Julianne Donaldson’ upcoming release. Reading the blurb made me want to read it and so I requested the title.I simply loved it , a review of it can be found here on my blog.
Hence intrigued and excited I sought out Donaldson’ prior release – Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance.
Unfortunately my expectations were I think too much since they weren’t met. This isn’t to say I didn’t find the book enjoyable, I did but perhaps my judgement is based on my experience of having read Blackmoore, which I undoubtedly enjoyed a lot more. So maybe my rating is a bit colored by that scale of expectation.
Had I not known while reading this book that this was Donaldson’ debut novel I would have picked it up on reading it. It’s sort of a dead giveaway in that count over here; which is to say it has all the markings of a cliché all over this one.
The plot for this book like most regency romance novels has a large estate, the hero who undoubtedly is the heir to it, the heroine, a dowry, a rake, some family members who may or may not be always entertaining or amusing and the telltale matchmaking in the process.
Oh! it even has an abduction and a highwayman.
Marianne and Philip meet under the most trying circumstances at an inn after Marianne has had a dangerous run-in with a highwayman because of which her coachman is injured gravely and her maid has been scared out of her wits. And while they don’t experience love at first sight during the meeting they do become friends.
It’s on arriving at the estate of Edenbrooke that Marianne discovers, Philip owns it. Having been invited by the best friend of her late mother Marianne is excited by the opportunity to travel to a new place and meet her twin sister Cecily through which the invitation was extended to her, after a very long time.
Having led a comfortable, sheltered life always, Marianne’ world is torn apart when her mother passes away in an unfortunate riding accident. She is thus taken to live with her grandmother in Bath, while her sister is sent to live with a cousin in London when her father travels to France, away from his home & homeland to mourn the loss of his beloved wife. Though he has the best of intentions at his heart as knowing his girls he finds appropriate lodgings for them, what her father doesn’t realize is this act of his has hurt Marianne immensely though Cecily seems to have remained unfazed by it.
Being the younger twin, Marianne has always been the more sensitive of the two girls, though she is strong at heart. But unfortunately for her, Cecily’ beauty and social skills overshadow her. While Cecily excels at being a being a lady and has a melodious voice that can mesmerize anyone when she sings Marianne can barely croak. She however is an excellent artist when it comes to the brush and a skilled rider who also enjoys reading and would not mind learning fencing, as she gets bored trying to embroider.
And while Marianne has been grieving with the loss of her mother, Philip has dealt with his own demons, battling with the responsibilities and expectations that come along with the title bestowed upon him as he mourns his beloved father and elder brother.
They find kindred spirits in one another as their friendship deepens which allows them to both deal with their grief with someone who understands them and accepts them as they are. She learns that he wants someone to love him not for his title or possessions while he finds out she doesn’t want anyone to want her out of pity.
They fall in love and while he realizes it, she is yet to accept what her heart wants, when in walks Cecily and misunderstandings and confusions ensue as Marianne learns Cecily wants to marry Philip believing her sister fell in love with him when they met in London.
The book picks up towards the end a bit more but by then its a bit too late to salvage some things.
Not nearly as enjoyable as Donaldson’ Blackmoore but nonetheless a good read.