Manufacturing heiress Penelope Brown seems the perfect choice for a wife. She's pretty, proper, and looking for a husband.
Determined to rise above her common birth, Penelope prides herself on her impeccable behavior and good sense. Grand Passion? Vulgar and melodramatic. Yes, agreeing to marry Nev was a rare moment of impulse, yet she's sure they can build a good marriage based on companionship and mutual esteem.
But when they arrive at the manor, they're overwhelmed with half-starved tenants, a menacing neighbor, and the family propensity for scandal. As the situation deteriorates, the newlyweds have nowhere to turn but to each other. To Penelope's surprise, she begins to fervently hope that her first taste of Grand Passion in her husband's arms won't be her last.
Comment: I've had this historical book for some time now and I'm sure I was eager to read it at the time but as with most books, it just got lost in the pile. This month I decided to finally get to it and I also planned on using it for the alphabet challenge because it would make a wonderful I entry.
This is the story of Lord Nevinstoke, a young man used to the good life, reckless behavior, freedom and parties with his friends. However, his father dies and he is now the heir and the responsible for his family and estates. He soon realizes his father left the family huge debts and he doesn't have the means to pay them of to keep the living style his mother and sister are used to. He sells as much as he can but his only escape will be to marry a heiress.
Penelope Brown is rich because her father, once a poor man, got wealthy due to his brewery business. the aristocrats look down their noses at her and her family but they are accepted in certain places because they can. Nev and Penelope meet once and he seems to find her interesting and easy to talk to. So, when he's in trouble, she's the girl he thinks of to help him and she understands his situation.
They marry for convenience, all cards on the table. But won't they try to be more than just friends or polite espouses?
I enjoyed this book. I liked the way Nev and Penelope met and dealt with Nev's request, I liked seeing their attempts in making a positive thing out of a marriage of convenience and even how they tried to take their tasks and duties seriously.
There are some sub plots that are important to the story's development but I wasn't as amazed by those. I liked the emotional aspects of all details concerning the couple's relationship.
What I really would have liked to see more of was their passion and connection. Sure, we see them together, we know what they feel, they share their feelings once in a while but I still think some things were too subtle, and I'd love to see them think and act more in love. The sub plots can be distracting and I think they also focused attentions on other things.
The romance is an interesting detail. Usually couples moon over each other or just give in to exaggerated sex escapades. I liked there was a slow, balanced start to this couple's relationship but as their lives together kept on giving them challenges to overcome and their feelings got more intense, I would have liked to see more of that. In their POVs, they would think about the other, what he/she would be feeling, how much they meant for each other, they did have intimate moments, but it was too subtle, too polite... I wanted a bit more passion. I think the angst scenes or angst-related were amazing and powerful and I felt for them in their insecurities and fears, not only to each other but because of secondary issues. But the love should have been more obvious.
The sub plots were well thought, detailed. The problems with the estate where Nev and Penny are going to live after they marry are interesting. Nev has worries and tasks to perform, he has to assure the life and conditions of his tenants and there is a lot of talk about this subject, a villain in the middle of everything and hidden intentions I think the author developed well, even if I wasn't always as interested in that as I was in the romance.
I liked seeing Nev changing to become someone reliable, someone his family could count on and I felt for him when he couldn't make things better just by his will. It was interesting to read about a hero not all powerful and with personal and emotional doubts, just like any human being.
Penelope is a good heroine, she thinks she's not special but has a practical side I really liked. I wish she could have had the power to see through the bad intentioned characters but well, that's wishful thinking, not a flaw in her character.
Nev and Penny end up being a good couple, they accept the other, even the issues each one brings to the marriage... some details like Nev's ex-mistress and Penny's ex-beloved could have been better used to highlight their relationship and love and somehow I think the author didn't go as far as she could in terms of angst and emotion, even maintaining the perfectly good atmosphere the story had.
In the end, this was a good book, an interestingly good story and I do plan on reading other things by the author in the future.
This was her debut and quite well thought and executed, despite the things I, personally, liked less.