Publisher: Bantam Books
Review source: Publisher
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Series: Pennistan, 5
Fifth in the Pennistan historical romance series with this story set in 1819-20 London. The couple focus is on Lord Jess Pennistan and Beatrice Brent.
Blayney is one of those authors who puts a modern twist on an historical romance. In her case, it's a more egalitarian stance for the women and a contemporary feel for the emotions. The previous stories that I've read were all within what I privately refer to as the Poppy's Coin series, which I've enjoyed very much. This one, not as much. There was just a bit too much of the modern about this story, although it won't hold me back from diving into the Pennistan series because I did like the characters.
For the most part, I enjoyed this short story. I'll always love a feisty heroine! Especially one who likes to read. Their father is obsessed with their marrying very well---a title at a minimum, but neither of the girls is as concerned with who they marry. And daddy dearest has his own affairs to concern himself with.
Blayney does a nice job of teasing out the details behind Jess and Crenshaw's dispute. It does paint a very honorable picture of him. It's too bad he has to suffer for it. There are also a number of romances in this house party. At least one of which doesn't end so well for the person involved. Thank god.
I enjoyed the countess' style of entertaining: the small statues and setting each of her guests a task to tell the other what they enjoy most and either demonstrate it, provide a lecture, or teach a skill. It certainly leads to a variety of possibilities.
My only other whine---other than about the modernity---is that silly incident at the dinner table when Cecelia is playing monkey-see, monkey-do. I thought the girls were intelligent, and yet Cecelia is behaving like an idiot. I mean, c'mon...salting the wine?? And no one else at the table is doing any of this, so how can she possibly imagine that this is the thing to do?
There's bad blood between Lord Jess and Crenshaw---a dispute that will come to a head when Jess insists on gambling to get that land back.
Meanwhile, Beatrice and Ceci are about to enjoy their first house party; their godmother's intention is to ensure that they are comfortable in Society before the Season begins.
And the jaded Jess encounters the feisty Bitsy.
Beatrice and Ceci are twins whose very wealthy father, Abel Brent, a mill owner, is intent on their snaring lords. Ellis Brent is their brother, rescued by Lord Jess. Roger Tremaine is Beatrice's best friend and her father's machine designer. Leonie Darwell is the lady's maid engaged for the girls; she's quite the champion of Lord Jess.
Jasmine, the Dowager Countess of Haven is godmother to the girls and intent on easing them into society. Mr. Hogarth is the art curator and librarian at Havenhall.
Lord Jessup Pennistan is the son and brother of a duke. A very angry duke. Callan is his easygoing valet. The Reverend Michael Garrett is a vicar at Pennsford and Jess's brother-in-law; Lady Olivia is Garrett's wife. Annie Blackwood was the daughter of the young Pennistan's governess; she was practically incorporated into the family. Lynford is the oldest brother, the fifth Duke of Meryon married to Elena; Rexton is their son and heir. Lord Gabriel is married to Lynette; their children include Marie, Owen, and Angela. Lord David is married to Mia---she's pregnant.
Lord William, Viscount Bendasbrook is now the Marquis of Destry and the heir to a dukedom. He's a bit of a klutz conversation-wise and falls in love with Cecilia.
The rest of the houseparty includes:
Baron Crenshaw is a very bad man. Mrs. Jane Wilson and her daughter, Katherine, Miss Wilson; the Earl of Belmont is quite good with puzzles; and, Nora Kendrick is a widow recently re-entering Society.
Sadie is a young girl in the wrong place.
The cover is a blue brocade background with Beatrice in a blue gown being embraced by a half-dressed Jess. Very formulaic.
The title refers to Beatrice and Jess always having time for One More Kiss once they're married.