by Julianne Donaldson (Goodreads Author)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.
My Review: 9/10
I really loved this book. The word that kept coming to mind was delightful. I was frequently laughing out loud and smiling to myself as I read. This is definitely one I will come back to again and again.
I loved the characters and imagery and the depth of the relationships. I loved the overall experience.
Now for the criticisms.
the first 90% of the book was just SO GOOD! But the last 10% fell apart for me. I thought it was way too over the top. The rescue was too coincidental, which just never sits well with me. I think, well if they were just one second to late -at any point- then it all would have been lost. The only way I can deal with dumb luck built on dumb luck (Clumpett happens to be in hearing range, tells people, her father and Philip happen to be in the country and happen to come across William and co. and they happen to stumble on the right inn) is if it's attributed to divine intervention. I felt Donaldson missed a great opportunity here.
The declarations of feelings were way too melodramatic and drawn out. And even worse, this book tumbles headfirst into the same misunderstand-makes-smart-characters-stupid pit that most of its kind fall in. I could understand the misunderstanding itself, but I didn't think her actions were in line with her personality; I felt that Marianne would have confronted Philip or continued to hope, especially when he continued to behave so encouragingly. Then the constant self denial in the face of almost everyone else's encouragement of his affection was too much to believe. I kept thinking, WWLBD (what would lizzie bennet do)? She would have hoped and aggressively sought out the truth. She would have been forthright and certainly combative if she felt she was being used or played with. She would have been real. I reject anything less.
Philip's declaration was too pretty, flowery and girly, not at all realistic.
The abduction itself should have been omitted. The nephew's character made me question the uncle, especially as it all started by his eavesdropping. Why was this never fleshed out?
The ending was too neatly wrapped up; while I love escaping in reading, I don't want a total suspension of reality, where suddenly characters betray their own interests and personalities to fit the resolution (grandmother, cecily, etc).
I know this is nitpicky, but at the beginning of the book, I thought the twirling was sweet, but by the end, I thought it was overemphasized and therefore too childish.
I thought this was a Christian historial romance. While I loved that morals and virtues were common themes and upheld well, I don't recall any direct reference to Jesus and faith. So I was a little disappointed there.
On the whole, I will forray into Edenbrooke again and again, but I will likely end right before the orchard abduction or at the end of chapter 22, before william comes home alone. This book was so good, and for a first novel, it gives me so much hope for what this author will create. Particularly because I actually read her second book, Blackmoore, first; I already know how much she improves from one book to the next.