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 historical romantic comedy, filled with amusing and original ideas.
Anya Wylde is a great storyteller. She smoothly carries the story forward, vividly portrays the characters, and is able to make enjoyable even the 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 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 very much out of place. But she is also kind, open, and cheerful, so she immediately wins the support and friendship of the dowager and her daughter, Lady Anne. No one in her surroundings can remain untouched by her irresistible persona, maybe except Charles, the Duke of Blackthorne, who is highly irritated by the presence of Penelope, for many reasons.
Even though he mercilessly insults her, whenever he gets the chance, it is obvious from the very beginning that Penelope and the Duke are meant for each other. But they go through many hilarious situations before they have their ‘happily ever after’.
What is not perfect
While the reader is whirled through the events of the story, some gentleness is forming between Penelope and Charles, slowly, bit by bit. It’s nicely developed but about at three-quarters of the book there is a scene that breaks this development. Spoiler! Highlight to read! It is the scene when Penelope sings a tavern song. Both Penelope’s and the Duke’s behavior are exaggerated, and inconsistent here.
The musical scene put me off, too. I don’t really like the genre in general, but reading a musical… well… it hardly needs to be said, weird.
And I expected more laughter because of the fake moustaches.
What I loved
All of the characters are well-portrayed and kind of caricatural, and it’s okay – they are very entertaining.
The duke, the ”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, the brave, temperamental country girl, who has a special talent to turn everything upside-down. Who babbles when nervous, but she doesn’t 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.”
The fights and teasing between them were delightful, 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. She is so hungry for a change, and Penelope surpasses even 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 strong self-esteem:
“Lady Bathsheba doesn’t like being called a goat …,” Penelope muttered to herself.
All in all
Penelope is a delightful and sweet regency romance, with lovable characters, satisfying romance, surprising twists and turns, and lots of laughter!
I would like to thank the author, Ms. Wylde, for a copy of Penelope, in exchange for an honest review.