In Julianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance (Shadow Mountain, April 2012) Marianne Daventry is sent to live with her cantankerous grandmother in “stifling” Bath after the death of her mother, abandonment by her grieving father, and separation from her socially ambitious twin sister. Unsurprisingly, Marianne soon feels dejected and out of place.
She welcomes an unexpected invitation to visit her sister at the Edenbrooke estate. On the journey Marianne comes face to face with a dangerous highwayman — and, in the same violent encounter, meets the love of her life.
Foreshadowing takes a backseat to character development and major plot points may be counted on a couple of fingers, but Donaldson’s delightfully witty dialogue is engaging. As in other contemporary novels set in the Regency Era, our heroine operates slightly outside the expectations of a “genteel” lady of her time. And unlike many romances which drag the characters through conflict, prolonging their joy until the finale, this refreshingly straightforward tale provides tender interludes throughout.
This debut novel captures all the charm of the Regency period — while offering plenty of romance for readers who crave a bit more than the tight-lipped love scenes written by 19th century writers.