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Marianne Daventry enjoys spending long, quiet days in Bath with her grandmother. The peaceful interlude has been just the thing to help the 17-year-old deal with the untimely death of her mother. Still, Marianne's getting antsy. And that's not a good thing for a girl whose focus is supposed to be on turning herself into a proper young lady. She's not at all envious of her vivacious twin sister, Cecily, who's enjoying a season in London, but Marianne wouldn't be adverse to experiencing a little excitement. Especially when the alternative is listening to her grandmother's constant criticisms and—even worse—atrocious love poems from the dreadful Mr. Whittles.
So, when Cecily invites Marianne to join her for a summer in the country, Marianne can't accept fast enough. She's not looking forward to the social obligations she'll be expected to keep, but the vacation will certainly provide the diversion Marianne's been craving lately. After all, Cecily's got big plans to woo and wed the Lord of Edenbrooke and she'll need her sister's help to make sure her scheming comes to fruition.
But, when Marianne meets the infuriating, yet charming Philip Wyndham, everything changes. Suddenly, what promised to be a sedate, sisterly summer in the countryside is becoming a whirlwind adventure full of danger, devilry and deception. The man-catching madness has begun and Marianne hardly knows which to trust—the ambitions of her beautiful, fickle sister or the traitorous longings of her own heart? Marianne must make a critical choice between love and loyalty, a choice that will mean betraying her sister or losing the only man she's ever wanted. Forever.
I don't read a lot of Regency romances, but when I do, I'm (almost) always thoroughly charmed by them. There's just something about that gentle, bygone era that makes me smile. And swoon. Edenbrooke, a debut novel by Julianne Donaldson, provides plenty of chances to do both. The plot's nothing super original, nor are the characters, but Donaldson's lighthearted prose keeps the story from feeling stagnant. Most refreshing is the time the author takes to build the romance between Marianne and Philip. Insta-love never feels authentic—this does. Add in some intriguing twists and turns and Edenbrooke becomes a fun, romantic page turner that will appeal to teenagers and senior citizens alike. Did the novel blow me away? No, but still, I quite enjoyed this clean, charming read.
(Readalikes: Although I've never read anything by Georgette Heyer, I keep seeing Edenbrooke referred to as "Heyer-esque." It's also Austen-ish. As far as modern comparisons go, it reminded me of books by Sarah Eden.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for scenes of peril and mild sexual innuendo