Ruthless, cold, precise, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, tolerates only the finest-- in clothes, in horseflesh, in mistresses. And now he's found the perfect bride, the one whose dowry will restore his family's shattered legacy and bring him peace at last: the exquisite heiress Lisbeth Redmond.
She's about to play with fire...
But one unforgettable encounter with Lisbeth's paid companion, Phoebe Vale, and the Marquess is undone. This quiet girl with the wicked smile and a wit to match is the first person to see through the icy facade to the fiery man beneath. But their irresistible attraction is a torment as sweet as it is dangerous, for surrendering to their desire could mean losing everything else they ever wanted.
Comment: This is the 6th installment in the wonderful Pennyroyal Green series by Julie Anne Long and it was the one scheduled for May. I had god expectations of it since I realized the heroine wouldn't be a titled lady or something. I was very curious in seeing how the pair would work together.
This is the story of the Julian, Marquess of Dryden, a man re-known by it's cold demeanor and pragmatism. He's achieved everything he wanted since his father let the family's finances go to waste because he never cared for them. Now, the only thing missing is an estate from his mother's side he wishes to get back. But that is in the power of Isaiah Redmond and his only way of getting it is by marrying Lisbeth, the older man's niece. However, before starting his courting, Julian meets Phoebe Vale, a schoolteacher that doesn't seem shy around him, something he finds refreshing.
Phoebe knows there isn't much she can do. She wants to have an adventure so she thinks about going to Africa to teach, but before she even makes that decision she meets Julian, everything she can't have and is asked to be Lisbeth's company during the time they'll be at Redmond's house. Phoebe tries, but the marquess isn't just a title and sparks fly between them...
Once again, I really couldn't put down a story by this author. I think she going to be one of my favorites in the genre.
This book features one of my favorite types of heroine, someone poor but with a simple confident and dreams even if she knows she won't ever be more than what she is. I liked the mix of resignation and confidence in her. I feel very empathy towards her although she does a lot more bravery than I could ever have by accepting Lisbeth's invitation to be with her during the house party and, later on to be in London during the season.
Of course without this, there wouldn't be a story... but still, I have to say what made me like Phoebe also made me a bit angry because I thought she would be smarter to avoid certain things. In a way I think the author was quite successful in creating a character that is simple but dreams too high and isn't aware of how close to disgrace she is flying.
Despite this, what surrounded Phoebe's travel to London and her subsequent behavior was certainly not as unlikely as one might think in those times where most women had no rights, no importance and no voice if they weren't ladies or belonged to good families.
Julian is a much more easier character to understand I think. Deep down he has honor and is in control of his feelings. The challenges he faces, namely trying to make others see he's serious and not like his father, are all worthy and his ultimate behavior never made me think he wouldn't. Sure, I had a reader's privilege to see him but even to other characters, I think he was always someone they wanted to emulate because of his attitude. Although one could also say that would happen due to his personality that no one seemed to unravel. Until Phoebe challenged him and made him realize he didn't have to just let life follow what society wanted. I liked him and how he took so many steps to be someone Phoebe could trust.
Yes he said some things I totally understand why they made Phoebe disappointed, but if there were no conflicts what would be the point?
These books focus mainly on the character's journey towards love and a HEA. All the secondary characters and situations are a complement to it but, interestingly, that doesn't remove any balance from the story and it's always fun to see how the books feel populated and full of energy even when the scenes are set on the main couple.
Another amazing detail, in my opinion, is how the author hits the precise emotions and awareness of each character in the scenes they are in. This author's characters aren't stupid or aloof or distracted or inattentive. They always act with purpose, with meaning, even if funny or peaceful moments. All their reactions are thoughtful and cleverly used by the author. I like this sense of utility they all have.
I really have a wonderful time with a book by this author. I kept being surprised by how much I like to see and follow each protagonist path towards happiness and something. In the end I always think that yes, these two complement each other and their actions have meaning and are more than just a puppet doing what the author tells them to. It's a curious feeling but it happens every time.
I'm very eager to get to the next one and I hope it's as fascinating, entertaining, well thought and put together as this one. I don't think it's perfect because Phoebe could have a few details more according to my own personal taste and the scenes between them could have been even more powerfully shown, but all in all, another great story!