Skeptic Scale: ♥♥♥
Huh. What shall I say about this book that won't seem make me seem like a totally demanding d!ckhead. First of all, this was a good read. Julie Anne Long is obviously an amazing writer and the Pennyroyal Green series is a winner. But like the totally demanding d!ckhead that I am, I just wanted MORE.
I mean, first of all, I was all disappointed by the fact that this wasn't the big Lyon/Olivia story that I have been waiting for for ages and ages (JAL and George R.R. Martin are KILLING me with all this SUSPENSE. I BEG you both to put me out of my misery already.)
And second, I thought that maybe this particular story had a bit less uniqueness and knock-you-knickers-off-ness than the others did and that could be why I'm having such a hard time articulating why it missed slightly with me.
He: Jonathan Redmond, the youngest son of the famed Redmond family of Pennyroyal Green. No one really expects much of him - not his father, the business-obsessed Isiah Redmond, not his siblings and not his friends in the ton. But Jonathan does have passion and interests outside wagering and gadding about Society. He has a knack for investing in good ideas - it's just that he doesn't always have the money to do it.
She: Thomasina, or Tommy, is the bastard daughter of a Duke, she had a tragic life but has scrapped and saved and has managed to build a place for herself in Society. It's a fragile foothold, to be sure, but she's determined to cling to it and to build the thing she wants most - a family.
Conflict: Tommy needs a wealthy, titled man to marry her and give her his name and to finally give her the respectability she's never really had. Jonathan doesn't have a title or wealth making him the exact opposite of what she wants. His father has also decreed that Jonathan must get married to a respectable lady of good breeding within 6 months or he loses what money he does receive in his allowance. Tommy is the exact opposite of respectable and not at all someone Jonathan can think of pursuing. Nothing seems to align for them and they know it.
1) I wish the hero was more "tortured" by his decision to follow his heart.
I'm not a sadist or anything, but I like there to be some tension in the lead up to when H & h eventually get together. I want it to feel like the odds are so hugely against them, the risk of choosing each other is so fraught with peril that there is always the chance that they won't get to be together. Even though these are romance novels and I KNOW the ending, I want to feel like that ending is in mortal danger of never happening. I want to feel weak with relief when the HEA does happen for them. Dramatic much? Hells yeah...
Here, it just felt like both knew what they felt for each other early on. Jonathan's character was painted like this noble nice guy so that you already KNOW what his attitude to his father's ultimatum would be. I wasn't ever in doubt of his actions. Or hers.
2) I'm so over Good Guys - give me a leeeetle bad.
The hero is the classic Good Guy. He has a superhero complex and feels the need to save everyone, he's nice to children and ladies, he's an affable friend etc etc. I feel like I read this characterization a LOT. I would love to believe these Good Guy types actually exist but remain unconvinced. I wish there was a way to make a REGULAR person, one who doesn't naturally act like a saint and risk bodily harm to save others, be heroic. I wish he was even a little bad. Or regular even. At least that way I can pretend such a hero could actually exist somewhere in this big bad world.
Speaking of Good Guys. I wouldn't have minded if this heroine was a little less tragically wonderful. I mean, she's like a lollipop. All unrelenting charm and sweetness.
She got a superhero complex of her own and in spite of all the crappy things that happen to her growing up, she still has this fresh naivete and delightful innocence about her? C'mon. The last scene in the Epilogue made me roll my eyes even though it was supposed to show how she was such a dignified and magnanimous person in spite of being wronged by life. People don't work that way! Or maybe I'm just a huge jerk.
There were some other issues I had, but basically I thought the story was a bit blah and I kept feeling this deja vu, because honestly I feel like I have read the story of ruined-bastard-daughter-comes-up-in-the-world-relying-on-her-wits-and-incomparable-beauty-and-in-spite-of-the-tragedy-of-her-own-life-seeks-to-save-others-from-similar-fate-while-attaining-saintly-aura-of-untouchable-innocence. Nyeeeeh.
I read somewhere that the next one in the Pennyroyal series is about Ian Eversea. Aaarrrgh. Shoot me nowwwwww. Give me Olivia and Lyon dammit. Although when I've calmed down I won't be that crushed about Ian's story - I like that guy in the other books so fine. I'll wait even LONGER for Olivia/Lyon. Waiting even longer for their story won't raise my expectations or anything...