Holly‘s review of In for a Penny by Rose Lerner.
IN FOR A PENNY
No more drinking. No more gambling. And definitely no more mistress. Now that he’s inherited a mountain of debts and responsibility, Lord Nevinstoke has no choice but to start acting respectable. Especially if he wants to find a wife–better yet, a rich wife. Penelope Brown, a manufacturing heiress, seems the perfect choice. She’s pretty, rational, ladylike, and looking for a marriage based on companionship and mutual esteem.
IN FOR A POUND
But when they actually get to Nev’s family estate, all the respectability and reason in the world won’t be enough to deal with tenants on the edge of revolt, a menacing neighbor, and Nev’s family’s propensity for scandal. Overwhelmed but determined to set things right, Nev and Penelope have no one to turn to but each other. And to their surprise, that just might be enough.
Lord Nevinstoke has spent the last few years living the life of a ne’er-do-well, drinking and carousing with his friends and mistress. He really doesn’t think past the end of the night. It’s all about what he wants, when he wants it. He meets Miss Penelope Brown at a ball and is taken with her, so he introduces himself and spends some time with her. Then he has to rush out unexpectedly to avoid a lecture from his mother. Several weeks later he spies her again at Vauxhall Gardens and is similarly taken, though he doesn’t speak to her. That evening he finds out his father has been killed and the next day learns they’re ruined. His father left him with a mountain of debt and no way to see clear of it. Then Nev remembers Penelope. She could be the answer to his prayers.
Penelope is shocked and slightly appalled when Nev shows up on her doorstep and begs for her hand in marriage. He’s upfront with her, telling her he needs her money, but also says he believes they’ll be well suited. She’s always wanted a relationship based on respect and companionship, but two short meetings hardly seem enough to determine if she’d find that with Nev. And yet she can’t seem to turn him down. Despite the misgivings she has, she agrees to the marriage.
But once they’re settled in Nev’s country estate, she realizes marrying a fortune hunter is the least of her problems. Their tenants are about to revolt, her in-laws are insufferable, they have a sinister neighbor who seems mildly obsessed with Nev’s sister and if that isn’t enough, things from both their pasts keep popping up, adding to the drama. At one point Penelope says, “Oh, Nev. What a Gothic novel our life has become!” and indeed, that’s exactly what it seemed – something straight out of a Gothic novel.
As a debut Regency novel, In for a Penny really hits the mark. Despite all the crazy things that keep happening to Penelope and Nev, it was never too much. I was drawn into the story from page one. I think one of the best things about it is the marriage proposal and acceptance. There was no secrecy between them, or Machiavellian schemes on either side. Nev told Penelope upfront that he needed her money. He didn’t try to woo her and pretend to be in love with her, nor did Penelope fancy his proposal as anything but it was – a business arrangement. They were both very pragmatic about it, which I found very refreshing.
Once married, they try to find solid footing with each other. Nev feels like Penelope settled for him and isn’t sure how to prove he cares for more than her money. Penelope wants to believe Nev when he claims to care for her, but she isn’t quite sure he’s telling the truth.
Much of the novel shows Penelope and Nev getting to know one another. There are some lovely scenes where you can see they are in perfect accord, but there are others where they hurt one another without even realizing it. The relationship seemed very real to me.
The descriptions of the time period seemed right on. Unlike so many other Regency novels, this one really dealt with the grit of day-to-day life for a Lord and Lady. They had to deal with tenants and money troubles and difficult friends and family members. I found it to be very refreshing.
There were times when I became frustrated with both main characters because of their lack of communication, but since I understood where both of them were coming from I was never bothered for long. Something I had a harder time letting go was the way Nev’s mom acted. She was very much a stereotypical Regency-era mama. The way she treated her daughter and Penelope annoyed me to no end. I really wish in the end Nev had made it clear that wouldn’t be acceptable.
Overall this was a lovely Regency novel with beautifully drawn characters in a richly painted setting.
4.25 out of 5
This book is available from Samhain Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.
Rose Lerner is guest blogging with us today. Be sure to stop by and say hello for a chance to win a signed copy of In for a Penny.