Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Title:  Edenbrooke
Author:  Julianne Donaldson
Genre:  Historical fiction/romance
Publisher:  Shadow Mountain
Pages:  264
Attained:  Via publisher at BEA


Synopsis from  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 she 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 Edenbrooke.
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I was told, "If you love Austen, you should read this."  And I agree.  Edenbrooke is the perfect book for an Austen fan.  It's got the Pemberly-like estate, the witty dialogue, the swoon-worthy hero.  And it not only reminded me of Austen, but also Georgette Heyer, another one of my favorite authors.

The story focuses on Marianne Daventry, a girl who prefers quiet country living, who feels that she lives in her twin's shadow, and who doesn't fit into her society's definition of a "proper" lady.  She's a great character from the beginning; she's smart, witty, spirited, but also wounded by her mother's death and father's abandonment.  I loved her character development throughout the book.  She travels to the country to spend the summer with her sister at a country estate, and while there, becomes friends with Phillip, the second son of Lord Wyndham.  Phillip is perfectly swoon-worthy.  Handsome, funny, flirtatious but with this deepness to his character.  Throughout the story, Marianne uncovers all these different layers to Phillip's personality that make him truly wonderful.  I also love him because he's such a tease.

I do feel that the Goodreads summary is a bit misleading.  The way the blurb describes this book, you'd think it would be this action-paced adventure.  Yes, there is a highwayman and a mysterious stranger, but they're relatively minor parts in the story.  The true focal point of this book is the relationship that develops between Marianne and Phillip.  They have this incredible friendship that's also simmering with romantic tension.  But their conversations are what I enjoyed the most.  Their verbal sparring and Phillip's roguish flirting are so entertaining; I just wanted to skip over everything else that was happening just to see what they'd say to each other next.

I would definitely recommend Edenbrooke to anyone who likes Austen or historical romance.

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