When I discovered last month that it was Read-A-Romance Month and hatched my plan to introduce myself to the genre, I didn’t really consider the fact that the book I was reading at that particular moment was, in fact, a romance.
I would have never guessed, because Julianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke isn’t a romance of the shirtless cover, steamy sex variety. In fact, its publisher, Shadow Mountain, used this title to debut its new line of romances dubbed “A Proper Romance.” (Guess Shadow Mountain isn’t as entertained by the creative use of impassioned adjectives as I am…) No matter, Edenbrooke is a perfectly fine novel, more in line with a Jane Austen-type love story than the sultry, seductive kind.
This was one of my few grabs at BEA last year when I was sick as a dog, and I picked it up for its historical, English countryside setting. Marianne is our heroine—a girl going stir crazy in Bath, living with a grandmother who disapproves of her independent, atypical ways. Marianne basically thinks the world she lives in is ridiculous. Women are expected to be meek and mild, preen for a husband, follow a designated path rather than live their own lives; and she wants no part of it. Marianne’s twin sister Cecily is basically her exact opposite—everything a woman of the times “should” be. Cecily’s been spending her time at a sprawling country estate called Edenbrooke, hatching a plan to marry the estate’s hier. When she invites her sister to Edenbrooke for a stay, Marianne jumps at the chance to get out of Bath and enjoy the countryside she so deeply loves, fully intending to keep to herself and stay far, far away from Cecily’s mission.
But of course plans go awry.
Marianne’s coach gets robbed by a highwayman. This somewhat obnoxious but dashing stranger keeps showing up. And Marianne generally feels that her entire way of being will both disgrace her grandmother and keep her single for life. But of course, I promised a romance with this post, so of course that “obnoxious but dashing stranger” plays a bigger role!
This story is really about Marianne, a very young woman (late teens, I think?), growing up and making peace with what’s expected of her and what she wants. She’s a likable character to follow as she navigates her place in the world. This is a “pretty” romance, with an idyllic setting and plot twists that entertain without overwhelming. And, following what I learned about Romance novels, you can rest assured everything will work out in the end.