I could not put this book down. I was mesmerized by the wit and humor and the romance in this novel. I loved everything about it. I also liked the fact that it's about a young woman coming from town (Bath) who goes to the countryside. Not a woman who comes from the country and goes to town (Bath, London, Brighton, etc). (Think of Jane Austen novels. Country to town.) It puts a different perspective on things. The writing in this novel was brilliant. I could very much imagine what was happening. It was delightful. The writing gave me just enough details to let my mind draw a picture of what was happening but not too much that I was bogged down by details. The story was the focus not the setting. I liked the writing style a lot.
I think that the book jacket does a very good job of describing Edenbrooke.
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 Marianne 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 own summary of the book gives away lots of spoilers so read on at your own discretion.
The novel is about a young woman named Marianne. After her mother died she was sent to live with her grandmother in Bath. Her twin sister, Cecily, went to live in London with their aunt. And their grieving father went to France to forget about his beloved wife. Marianne disliked Bath. Her aunt and grandmother never go out in society. And Marianne missed her father and her twin sister. She felt abandoned by everyone. So when Marianne was invited to the countryside estate of Edenbrooke to visit her late mother's friend she jumps at the chance. Along the journey to Edenbrooke her carriage is stopped by a highway man. Marianne and her maid, Betsy, are unharmed but emotionally upset. They stay at an inn overnight. There they meet an interesting gentleman. It is not until they arrive at the estate that they learn that the man is Phillip, the middle son who lives at the estate. Marianne is very embarrassed to learn his identity because she was not very ladylike at the inn or when she met Phillip at the estate before realizing he lives there. One of the conditions that Marianne's grandmother gave her when allowing her to go to Edenbrooke was that she become more ladylike. Marianne decided that in order to earn her grandmother's inheritance and greater approval she had best start acting like a lady. No more twirling. Learn to sing a song for company. Learn to flirt with gentlemen. Follow the example of other young ladies. Marianne's twin sister, Cecily, was also invited to stay at Edenbrooke. She was delayed in London to attend a ball. During that week Marianne was at Edenbrooke without her sister she became good friends with Phillip. They would spend hours in each others company exploring the estate or just conversing in the library. Marianne knows that Cecily has her heart set on marrying Phillip. So she tries not to fall in love with him. But of course that doesn't work. Marianne denies her feelings because in her mind Phillip belongs to Cecily. And Cecily always gets what she wants. Marianne feels like she cannot compete with her prettier, more accomplished, ladylike sister. So she doesn't try. Marianne doesn't see that Phillip loves her too until it is pointed out to her. Marianne needed help seeing past the miscommunication that occurred between herself and others. She got that help when the "highwayman" comes back and kidnaps her. He is a man she knows from Bath who knows about her large inheritance and intends to forcefully marry her so that he can lay claim to her fortune. Phillip, who meanwhile went to France to fetch Marianne's father, is infuriated with this man so much that he plans on dueling him. Marianne stops him because she doesn't want anyone to die when that man didn't really hurt her. Instead Marianne asks that the man be hurt a little and that he be sent away from England. Knowing her sister's feelings, Cecily gives Phillip up to Marianne. Phillip and Marianne finally declare their love for each other. And it is great because they love each other for who they are and not for their money. Because of course Phillip is the heir to the Edenbrooke estate. The eldest brother, Charles, and their father are not alive. (It was quite convenient for the characters that Phillip was the heir but I didn't see it coming so I liked it.)
Like I said before this novel is a lovely regency romance novel. The mystery of it all and the romantic tension between Phillip and Marianne was written so well. I felt like I could put myself in Marianne's place. I got butterflies when she got butterflies. In fact when I finished the book at 3am after reading it straight through I was so giddy that I couldn't sleep or even just lay in my bed for the next half hour. (That's when I ran outside and got the mail from the mailbox and had a piece of toast.)
I highly recommend Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson to anyone who wants to read a brilliantly written regency romance novel. I loved this book a lot.