One of my all-time favorite tropes is two sisters -the plain and the beautiful- fall for the same guy and he goes for the plain sister. The beautiful sister may or may not be evil, but she always knows the other sister is ugly. I just love it! So when I read what Edenbrooke I knew I had to read it. Now, the presence of favorite tropes does not guarantee enjoyment, but fortunately this story was very good so I was a happy reader.
When Marianne Daventry’s mother died, her grief-stricken father moved to France to mourn leaving her and her fraternal twin sister, Cecily, behind. Marianne went to live a boring life in Bath and Cecily remained in London. Despite being twins Cecily is the beautiful sister and behaves accordingly, she goes to balls and wants to marry well. Marianne, on the other hand, is a bit of a tomboy, likes horses and all she wants to do is stay outside and twirl, she knows she isn’t as beautiful as her sister, but wishes to marry for love.
One day, Cecily and Marianne receive an invitation to spend some days in the country at the gorgeous state known as Edenbrooke. This breaks end the monotony in their lives. Cecily wants to marry the eldest brother and owner of the state, and Marianne just wants to scape Bath. In the middle of the journey, Marianne encounters a highwayman who steals something from her and shots the driver, so they deviate to a local inn to spend the night and ask for help. That’s when she meets Phillip, a gorgeous man who in a not-so-gentlemanly way denies them help. Once in Edenbrooke they meet again because it turns out that Phillip is the family’s middle brother. Sparks fly and forced to spend time together they develop a close friendship, but things are about to get complicated with the arrival of Cecily, because it turns out that the man she wants to marry is Phillip.
This was a charming book. I liked it because Cecily wanted Phillip, Marianne wanted Phillip and it was painfully obvious that Phillip wanted Marianne. But the story doesn’t take the usual route because Cecily is spoiled but not evil, she’s a bit careless when it comes to her sister’s feeling but she means well, so it’s up to Marianne to realize that she is just as worthy of his love, and that regardless of her looks she has several qualities that make her stand out and be special in her own way.
The angst comes from a love triangle that exists only in Marianne’s head. She feels too plain to attract a man like Phillip, she knows that her sister laid claim first, and because of her mother dying and her father leaving, she has abandonment issues. She was very young so at times her character came across as childish, and the conflict was easy to solve, I never doubted the outcome. But I enjoyed the book a lot. It is a light read that almost has a YA feel to it, maybe because the heroine is a teenager, or because the tone is lighter than in the Historical Romances I’m used to reading, but it was a refreshing change of pace.
Phillip was dreamy, although we never get his POV, but his intentions are clear, so we don’t really need them. Cecily wasn’t a complex character but I liked the fact that she wasn’t a cartoonish villain.
My main issue was that the big misunderstanding was gimmicky and had no reason to be since there was enough conflict with all of Marianne’s issues. And I hate when external circumstances force the characters into action. For once I would like to read a book where the hero and heroine figure out they love each other by thinking about it and mutual communication. No evil guys endangering the heroine’s life.
Overall it was a sweet G-rated romance, recommended for fans of historical romance looking for a light and cute story, and maybe even for YA readers looking for a historical story that’s heavy on the romance.
Review by Brie
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.
Shadow Mountain. March 27, 2012.