The heroine, Marianne Deventry is staying with her grandmother in Bath, England. Marianne is bored silly. She misses her father and her charming and beautiful twin sister, Cecily. Marianne has been in Bath for fourteen months, ever since her mother died. Her father left Marianna with her grandmother while he went off to France to grieve. Cecily has been with their cousin Edith in London, enjoying the social scene there. Marianne is very different from her sister. She likes to read and paint. She also had this adorable and childish habit of twirling when she’s happy. But Marianne hasn’t had much to twirl about. She misses her father and wants to go home but can’t. She feels rejected and alone. But then word comes from Cecily, inviting her to come stay with Cecily’s dear friend Louisa at her family estate of Edenbrooke. Marianne is thrilled because she’ll see Cecily again and meet Louisa’s older brother who Cecily plans on marrying.
Marianne expects a wonderful adventure, but she gets more than she bargains for when a highway man tries to rob her carriage. He gets away and almost ends up killing her driver. Marianne finds a local inn and asks for help. Whom she first comes in contact at first is incredibly rude. The man is some lofty gentleman who's condescending toward her and doesn’t lend a hand. But eventually after her driver is taken care of, the gentleman apologies and through some innocent flirting on his part, Marianne begins to thaw around him. He introduces himself as Philip but won’t give her any more information about himself. Finding the entire situation odd, Marianne leaves for Edenbrooke not expecting to see the mysterious Philip again. But she does. Philip was having some fun at her expense. He’s Louise’s older brother. The same older brother Cecily is in love with and wants to marry.
Out of respect for Cecily’s feelings, she’ll keep Philip at a distance. Philip wants to make amends for his rudeness and goes out of his way to be Marianne’s friend. Marianne thinks he’s only being kind toward her because of Cecily who will arrive at Edenbrooke in a few days. But as she and Philip keep each other company, she can’t help but start to care for him. But then she finds out a big secret Philip is hiding and her heart is broken in two. Now she must put her guards back up around Philip who she can’t help but want as her own regardless of her sister’s intentions.
Edenbrooke is a book that had me at hello. Marianne is a beautifully written protagonist. I was enthralled with her from the first page. She has this innocent sweetness to her that you can’t help but smile about. You’ll also want to hug Marianne because she feels she’s limited because of her looks and her simple nature.
Philip at first will give you the same reaction Marianne has toward him. He comes across as a snob, but the moment Marianne arrives at Edenbrooke and spends time with him, you will become smitten with him. Philip is a big flirting rogue where Marianne is concerned, but it’s his way of courting her. Marianne is so oblivious to Philip’s feelings, which is frustrating because she doesn’t tell him how she feels and listens to gossip concerning Philip in a not so nice light. She also overhears something that comes close to destroying her inside. But then again, seeing as how Marianne is a very innocent seventeen year old and the time and setting, it makes sense that Marianne wouldn’t admit her thoughts to Philip, especially when she hears different stories from others. Poor Marianne is confused about her feelings for this man and it becomes worse for her because of Cecily who appears to have claimed Philip for her own.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the underlying sensuality to the story, mainly from Philip. His smoldering stares and respectful but almost calculating touches toward Marianne makes this all the more enjoyable. The buildup of wanting between these two leads to a nice awwww worthy ending.
Edenbrooke receives high marks from me. It’s a near perfect romance with a heroine who touched my heart, including her love interest who allows her to shine and show the world her inner beauty she hides inside. This is one book I wouldn’t pass up. Do yourself a favor and buy Edenbrooke. This will be in my top 10 for 2012 and now has a space on my keeper bookshelf. (Shadow Mountain)
Final Grade: A
A few other Edenbrooke reviews: