Author: Julianne Donaldson
Published: March 27th 2012, Shadow Mountain
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Age group: Adult
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
I am a big fan of Jane Austen’s books, and I also love romance stories. So when I read the description of ‘Edenbrooke’, I became immediately excited about it. British Regency is the time period I find really fascinating. It was very aristocratic and elegant. I really admire the way people were at that time, their society and all the social rules of behavior they followed. I think these people were so noble and beautiful. Maybe it was not quite like that, but that’s pretty much the image that’s been created in my mind by Jane Austen. Besides, there’s something very attractive about that time, when there were no electronic or technical devices, and people actually met in person and talked to each other instead of phone calls or text-messages.
The main heroine Marianne lives with her grandmother after her mother’s death separated her from her family. Her sister Cecily is placed in London, while their father is grieving alone in France. Being twins, Marianne and Cecily are not exactly alike. Cecily is more outgoing and coquettish, she knows how to make an impression and to charm any man she wants. And Marianne is very down to earth and sincere. She’s doesn’t know how to flirt with men or how to behave around glamorous people. She’s happier when she’s free and alone with nature, riding her horse.
But Marianne’s grandmother is worried that, unlike Cecily, she may not be able to make a good match. So Marianne is sent to Edenbrooke following her sister’s invitation to stay with the family she lives with. The journey to Edenbrooke turns out very dangerous, as Marianne’s carriage gets attacked by a highwayman. She then is saved by a young man named Philip, who refused to tell anything more about his persona. But, imagine Marianne’s surprise when she finds out that he is actually the owner of Edenbrooke.
But, nevertheless, the attraction between Marianne and Philip keeps growing only to later break all Marianne’s hopes when she learns that her sister also has the eyes for Philip. And as far as Marianne’s concerned, she can’t remember a time when she could win over Cecily.
In general, I liked the story. It was that type of an easy-reading chick-lit pure romance book, that I just couldn’t not get affected by. It was very predictable, with Marianne being this typical damsel in distress and Philip the knight in shiny armors. I liked the progression of their love story. They started as friends, with Philip showing Edenbrooke to Marianne and letting her ride one of his favorite horses. But then the tension between them gets stronger and stronger and I found myself simply unable to stop reading, anxious for Marianne and Phillip to finally get together.
While the main reason why I was interested in this book in the first place was the similarities I believed it had with Jane Austen’s works. But I found out that aside from being set in Regency era and telling a love story, there are no more similarities. I loved how noble and just right were Jane Austen’s characters, but in Edenbrooke they are way more free in their behavior, the book really highlights all the people’s faults. In Edenbrooke the characters are more frivolous, while Jane Austen is way more strict about it, and I believe that this added a special charm to her books. Besides, I cringed at some really rude and harsh language Julianne Donaldson used in the book. This can be seen in the way Marianne’s grandmother talked to her, she really humiliated Marianne.
I can’t say that I liked Marianne a lot, for she was so awkward, but I generally sympathized with her as she was so naive and young. Philip was a real gentleman, I was so enamored by him and his attempts to woo Marianne. In the end they became such a cute couple.
Maybe if I didn’t have such high expectations about Edenbrooke, I would have given it five stars. But I give four, because while it was quite a nice read, there wasn’t anything new or unique about it, it was very predictable. I guessed the plot from the very beginning. Also the Regency era this book tried to depict as its main setting didn’t really translate that great, sometimes it felt like it’s the present time judging by the way the characters acted. But I’ll admit I absolutely loved the romance part and that’s what really is the main attraction of this book.
Favorite character: Philip
Favorite quote: “I hope you do not let anyone else’s expectations direct the course of your life.”