Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.
From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.
So. Historical Romance. Hopefully you’ve been around the blog enough to know that I LOVE IT LIKE BURNING. The history, the fancy, oh-so-proper parties, the flirting, the drama, the dressing up for dinner, and the slow-burning romance–it’s like catnip to me. EDENBROOKE by Julianne Donaldson is just one of these historical romances, friends, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I suppose, though, that I should start with a quick confession of sorts: Usually, the historical romances I read–and love unashamedly–feature some hot, hardcore sexytimes. I enjoy those parts very much, especially because when the story as a whole is told well and is fleshed out, the sex is really just a part of the bigger picture, as opposed to the story merely being a vehicle for the sex. EDENBROOKE is a different kind of historical romance because the romance and the sexual tension here are not explicitly sex-driven. Truth? I wondered before I started reading Julianne Donaldson’s book if I would MISS the sexytimes. More truth? I DIDN’T MISS IT AT ALL. The romance between Philip and Marianne is plenty tense, hot, romantic, fraught, and delicious. The LONGING is PALPABLE, guys. Like, it’s a real, huge thing throughout the whole book, but ESPECIALLY in this HOT BANANAS scene involving a love letter. I KNOW, RIGHT?! *fans self*
In fact, there isn’t really much about EDENBROOKE that I DIDN’T like. I could hardly put it down long enough to sleep, and of course, the thing that makes this story so endlessly satisfying is the two main characters, Phillip and Marianne. One of my favorite things to see in a solid, well-founded, deep relationship is good conversation. And I’m not just talking about trust and being comfortable talking about things that you usually keep to yourself, although Phillip and Marianne have that for sure. I’m also talking about the BANTER. The flirty, witty back and forth that comes from affection and ease and enjoying someone’s company. The way Julianne Donaldson has drawn the main relationship in EDENBROOKE is really impressive in its complexity, depth, and TINGLY-NESS. It’s LEGIT.
The rest of the characters are nothing to sneeze at, either. Although I will say that Marianne and her sister, Cecily, have an interesting relationship based on Cecily’s dominance and expectation of always getting her way. In truth, it bothered me that Marianne let her sister’s wants and needs override so many of her own. For a while at least. But one of the great things about the characters in EDENBROOKE is that even though Cecily was a touch unlikable at times, I never disliked her. She was just a very real character because she wasn’t perfect. All of the other characters were the same–real and well-rounded.
Guys, Julianne Donaldson has written a jem of a romance. It has all of the qualities that I look for in my favorite historical romances, and I’m not forgetting about the sex because TRUST, EDENBROOKE brings the hotness in other ways, and the characters, the setting, and the relationships all shine through. I wasn’t kidding when I said I couldn’t think of really anything I didn’t like about EDENBROOKE, and I can’t wait to read more from Julianne Donaldson! If you’re a fan of historical romances, you really shouldn’t miss this one, friends.
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Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children. Edenbrooke is her first novel.