Julie Anne Long has done it again. This book proves once again why she is one of my favorite historical romance authors. She crafts characters I genuinely care about and relationships easy to root for. Although this is the latest in her Pennyroyal Green series, it holds up well as a standalone, featuring neither a Redmond nor an Eversea (the two core families) in a leading role. It is a great place for a new reader to get their feet wet –or for an existing fan to return.
Our hero, Phillipe, is tangentially tied to the Redmonds. He was a heavily featured secondary character in Violet and Flint’s book, I Kissed an Earl. (He was Flint’s good friend and first mate.) Now he is convalescing in Pennyroyal Green after a brutal knife attack. He is surly and brooding and utterly beastly to his ragtag household staff… so different from the man we knew before. Our heroine comes in the form of his new housekeeper, Elise Fountain.
Elise is a single mother, who lost her last job when the circumstances of her son’s birth came to light. She needs to make her new position work, since it’s the last barrier between her and the streets. And make it work, she does. There are times she has to stifle her natural inclination to talk back or snark at her new master, but he begins to take pleasure in his new housekeeper’s cheekiness. She is clearly smart, determined, funny and beautiful. She becomes the very thing in life that brings him joy again.
The thing is, Elise’s social station and lack of a dowry make a future between them impossible. And at first, honestly, neither was looking for a HEA from the other. This romance was a slow burn and that was one of the things I loved about it. I felt like these characters truly grew to know each other and care for each other before things got physical. Both characters were sympathetic and Long really sold me on what motivated them and how they came to be who they are. The character development was so good. As was the sexual tension, the emotional engagement, and the storytelling.
This installment wasn’t as funny as books in this series often are, but it worked fine without it. Plus, for those of you frustrated by the wait on Lyon and Olivia, wait until you read the very end. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
*ARC Provided by Avon
Click to purchase: Amazon
It Started With a Scandal
by Julie Anne Long
Release Date: March 31, 2015