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In for a Penny by Rose Lerner

I picked up In for a Penny based on the reviews of several of my favorite savvy bloggers as well as the strength of the lovely cover art. I could do without the ornate gilt frame, but I think the pastoral scene at sunset is lovely. And, as I am a fairly weak-stomached romance reader, I appreciated the lack of skin. Having read it I can honestly say this cover very much fits what's inside--the uncommonly sweet story of a boy, a girl, and a marriage of convenience. I'm sadly pretty inexperienced when it comes to Regency novels as well. I keep meaning to get around to Georgette Heyer but a wrench always seems to get thrown in the wheels of that happening. So I decided to go ahead and dive into this new release with a handful of hopes and a strong sense of curiosity.

Miss Penelope Brown occupies a singular position within the hierarchy of the London social set. The daughter of a businessman, she is by and large looked down upon for her humble origins, despite her father's fabulous wealth. It doesn't help that he made it running a distillery and that her common-born mother lacks pretty much all the social graces required to thrive amid the stuffy, old blood circulating through the balls she attends. Which is why she is so startled to find young Lord Nevinstoke paying her court at the latest party. When they discover they share a taste for Malory and he appears to find her mother amusing rather than offensive, Penelope finds herself relaxing just the tiniest bit. Then his friends rush up bellowing something about his dreaded mother and he's off and rushing into the night. Sure she will never see him again, Penny is nothing short of flabbergasted to find him, hat in hand, on her doorstep with a proposal of marriage on his lips. It appears his father was recently killed in a duel and the family coffers are in disarray. Nev and his mother and sister are on the brink of losing everything if he is unable to secure a sizable amount of capital. Immediately. This is where Penny and her fortune come in. And, in a moment of generosity, kindness, and possibly temporary insanity, she accepts his offer. And thus, the rest of their lives begin.

It is physically impossible not to like Penny and Nev. I'll tell you that right off the bat. They are delightful and endearing and I was in love with the idea of them by the end of their first conversation. Penelope is earnest and shy, extremely clever and not afraid to say what she thinks or make her own decisions. Nev is the equivalent of an adorable golden retriever puppy. Happy and gentle and prone to rushing headlong into anything that strikes his fancy. Together they make a most striking couple, and not at all in the physical sense. They're neither of them stunningly attractive, and Nev has more than a few nasty habits borne of entitlement and indolence. He even keeps a mistress, which practice ends the day their marriage takes place. I worried (as much as Penny, I'm sure) that this aspect of the story would bother me. But I have to hand it to Rose Lerner for handling it as sensitively and appropriately as she did. It makes you like Nev more. And justifies Penny's early faith in him. I loved how kind and good they were and I wanted nothing more than to watch them grow closer together. And, of course, the road to happiness is awash in pitfalls and obstacles. They are constantly misunderstanding one another and they fight an uphill battle against both their parents' disapproval and the suspicions and distrust of Nev's steward and tenants on his country estate, where they go to live until they find a way to salvage things. I ate the first two-thirds of this charming romp up like candy, looking forward to the eventual realizations and happy resolution. But  somewhere around that point, things started to get a bit wearing. The misunderstandings persisted beyond my credibility level. Enough with the assuming the worst already. The bad guy continued to act increasingly insane (not in a good way) and a couple of secondary characters made annoyingly late and infuriatingly predictable entrances just to complicate matters, when the story did not needed littering up with their presence. For me, this melodrama took away from the sweetness that was their growing trust and introduced doubt and deception simply for the sake of prolonging the climax. By the end I was just tired of it all, when I should have been content. And that's a shame. Now, the writing in In for a Penny is simply lovely and the characters are strong. I wanted to know them and hug them for how happy they made me. The problem for me was more one of pacing and failing to quit when you're ahead. So, though I ended this one disappointed, there was definitely enough good that I will be picking up Ms. Lerner's next novel--Lily Among Thorns--when it comes out next year.


Linkage
Book Binge Review
The Book Smugglers Review
Gossamer Obsessions Review
Smexy Books Review
Tempting Persephone Review

Comments

  1. Oh, reading a romance without being dared!!!! : D

    I am sorry you ended up disappointed and I know exactly why too. I did think though, that the stregths of the writing and characters combined were enough for me.

    I just LOVED this book.

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  2. angieville has been given a sunshine award here:

    http://bishsbeat.blogspot.com/2010/04/sunshine-award.html

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  3. Ana, I know! What is the world coming to? ;)

    I know how much you loved it and I completely understand why. I just wished for a bit more growth by the final section. And stupid Edward. After that stunt he played, I could not understand her even considering letting him in her home. I know he was her best friend for ages...blah, blah, blah. lol. Clearly it still gets me in a huff.

    But the writing=LOVE.

    bish, aw, thank you! You're awesome.

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  4. Oh you must read a Georgette Heyer soon. They are so much fun. You will love all the fantastic language.

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  5. I completely understand about romance. I read the Cabot book 'written by Mia Thermopolis' not knowing there was some skin in it and found myself falling on the floor laughing. It seemed to make fun of romance novels a little bit and a few of the lines were just brilliant. And then all of a sudden wham she gives in to his advances and it's just like any other heaving bosom novel. ugh. Sorry about that side note.
    Anyways, yours sounds interesting, and I think I read Georgette Heyer on a dare and it wasn't too bad. Not an author I'm keen to follow, but I'm not wishing desperately I had that couple of hours back.
    Thanks for the rec.

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  6. Nev and Penny were sooo cute! So good hearted. I love them. I thought the ending climax was a little much..but really a great book :)

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  7. Michelle, I know I will! It's like something is conspiring to keep me away. I'll have to work harder. :)

    Raspberry, glad you weren't wishing for the time back. I didn't feel that way with this one either. Just a bit sad it didn't finish stronger when it was such a delight up until then. A few simply wonderful passages and scenes...

    Mandi, *grin* they really were. I wanted them to join forces sooner, I guess.

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  8. I'm sorry to hear that the book eneded up as a disappointment, still I think I need to check it out. I'm too afraid of missing out on something good. Thank you for your honest review, Angie.

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  9. Ladybug, I'd love another opinion! And truly the majority of the book is nothing but charming.

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  10. I love the cover! Sounds like a good read.

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  11. Angie, what you said about wanting Nev and Penny to join forces sooner? Exactly how I felt, and my biggest problem with the book. The over the top villain I could live with, maybe because I've read books with crazier ones or because I was able to mentally minimize the villain's role in light of the huge problems that Nev did have to deal with.

    Still, I am also looking forward to Lerner's next book.

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  12. Trisha, I'm glad to hear you agree on that point. The divide persisted too long. And this is coming from someone who loves the drawn-out tension usually. But they were both so sweet and I didn't buy the denseness extending so far, I guess.

    But I'm looking forward to the next one as well! :)

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