Release Date: Jan 12, 2021
Series: Penhallow Dynasty
Heat Level: Warm
Imprint: Avon Books
My first Lisa Berne was unexpected.
Our hero, Anthony Farr is the Duke of Radcliffe, a second son forced to dukedom because of the death of his brother, forced in a marriage by his father, and altogether a man who prefers a quiet country life. His sister is eager to remarry him. While his young son enjoys the carefree at home life Anthony tries to provide.
Enter our heroine, Jane Kent, a young woman chasing after her family history since she has no one left in the world. She arrives on the doorstep of her great-grandmother at Penhallow house and as luck has it is welcomed into the fold. Of course, she meets the Anthony as the households are neighbors in the country.
This book is a slow burn, upon slow burn with Anthony and Jane getting to know each other via Jane’s friendship with Anthony’s son. There’s awkward talks, this stand-offish shyness expressed by both characters and a touch of that stunted communication. This is a low heat, lots of steam kind of story.
I found myself loving the character’s their different natures. From Anthony’s deep-seated hatred of being told what to do as well as how everyone dumps on him. I could empathize with Anthony doing the best in regard to his responsibilities and everyone else seeing him as not doing enough. Jane is this mix of street smarts and curiosity that enchanted me. Her learning how to function within society and having this rag to riches type story also made my heart happy.
Why only 3 stars?
The characters don’t talk. Most of the meaningful thoughts that could have been voiced are kept internal. The banter is very banal, which fits the characters but drove me nuts when compared to the pages and pages of info dumping throughout the book. A lot of things are told not showed. In ways the story read as if the author struggled with what to include, and how to make these characters come together in a cohesive way while also building and circling back to a lot of side storylines with secondary characters.
Overall, I was this odd mix of happy and disappointed at the end. I enjoyed the characters and the rich world that Berne created in this country setting. It’s rough because I wanted to love this story so much, and there were elements that hit all the right beats for me. Ultimately the good and the bad kind of cancelled each other out.
For readers who want a low angst, slow burn historical romance away from the glittery drama of The Season and London.