Penelope Fairweather from rural Finnshire arrives in London with a hopeful heart. The dowager invites her for a season to catch a husband. Unfortunately Penelope’s rustic finesse is as delicate as a fat bear ripping apart a honeycomb infested with buzzing bees. Fake mustaches, highwaymen, pickpockets, and a devilishly handsome duke follow.
“All the good stuff is not for ladies,” Penelope grumbled.
Penelope is a sweet historic romantic comedy, full of amusing and original ideas.
Anya Wylde is a great storyteller. She smoothly entwines little stories into the main one, such as Penelope’s encounter with the Falcon, the highwayman. She vividly portrays both the characters and descriptive parts. You become attached to the characters soon, you can see and hear them, and feel sympathy for them.
Penelope, a country girl, with her spirit and refreshing uniqueness, arrives to spend the season in London, at the invitation of her mother’s old friend, the dowager of Blackthorne.
With her tendency to babble, and to cause embarrassing accidents, Penelope is out of place very much. But she is also kind, open, and cheerful, so she immediately wins the support and friendship of the dowager and her daughter, Lady Anne. It is soon revealed that there is no one in her surroundings who would remain untouched by her irresistible persona, maybe except Charles, the Duke of Blackthorne, who is highly irritated by the presence of Penelope, for various reasons.
Even though he mercilessly insults her in private, and in front of others as well, it is obvious from the very beginning that Penelope and the Duke are meant for each other, but I would never imagine so many hilarious situations till they have their ‘happily ever after’.
What is not perfect
While the reader is whirled from engaging scenes, from one to another, some gentleness is forming between Penelope and Charles, slowly, bit by bit, and it is nicely developed. But about at three-quarters of the book there is a scene that breaks the arch of this development. Spoiler! Highlight to read! It is the scene when Penelope sings a tavern song. The rudeness of the Duke and the improper behavior of Penelope are not only exaggerated, but also inconsistent here.
The musical scene put me off too. I don’t really like the genre in general, but reading a musical… well… I hardly need say, weird.
And I expected more laughter because of the fake moustaches.
What I loved
All of the characters are well-delineated and kind of caricatural, and it’s okay – they are very entertaining.
The duke, that ”blasted, infuriating, heartbreakingly handsome man”, who can be so kind and thoughtful that Penelope wishes “he would do something, anything, to make her hate him again.”
Penelope, that brave, temperamental country girl, who has a special talent to turn everything upside-down. Who babbles when she is nervous, but she does not back off when she meets bandits, and never loses heart.
Lady Anne giggled. “She arrived this afternoon and has managed to annoy Charles, scare Sir Henry, horrify you and entertain me.
But not only Charles is annoyed with Penelope, they are mutually irritated by each other:
“Oh, you horrid man, I wish I could strangle you.”
I was delighted by the fights and teasing between them, full of suppressed tension and intensity. I loved the kisses!! How sweet they were!
And soon – due to Penelope’s charm – the duke, who never smiles, now laughs. The duke, who never apologizes, now says he is sorry. Many times.
Lady Anne – I got to like her right in the first chapter. How hungry she is for a change! And Penelope surpasses her wildest expectations:
Lady Anne grinned. She had never been introduced to a goat before.
Anne’s side story is great as well. Her friendship with Penelope is lovely:
“Penny, how could you behave like a total idiot?” Anne giggled.
“I have no pride when it comes to winning back people I love.”
Anne smiled, “I love you too, Penny.”
I loved Madame Bellafraunde’s character and lectures:
“Men find all girls in skirts desirable depending on their mood. A man need not love to make love.”
Jimmy Grey, the Falcon is hilarious!
And finally Lady Bathsheba, who has not only a personality, but also self-esteem:
“Lady Bathsheba doesn’t like being called a goat …,” Penelope muttered to herself.
All in all
Penelope is an ingenious, thrilling, and sweet regency romance, with lovable characters, satisfying romance, surprising twists and turns, and lots of laughter! I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romances – you’ll surely love this delightful novel!
I will definitely keep an eye on the author.
I would like to thank the author, Ms. Wylde, for a copy ofPenelope, in exchange for an honest review.