While the H and h of this new Long HR are appealing, the story is cute and the romance satisfying, it just was not quite what I was hoping for. In the first place neither H nor h is a Redmond or an Eversea and I've been waiting eons for Lyon Redmond (aka the pirate Le Chat) and Olivia Eversea to resolve their difficulties. I thought their story would follow Long's 2010 I Kissed an Earl (Pennyroyal Green Series), but she came out with What I Did For a Duke: Pennyroyal Green Series in 2011 instead. But that last one was such an excellent romance that it didn't matter that Lyon and Olivia were nowhere to be found.
The H and h of this new one are only very tangentially connected to Pennyroyal Green. The h, Phoebe Vale, plucked from the slums of Seven Dials as a young girl and educated at Miss Marietta Endicott's Academy in Pennyroyal Green, is now a teacher at said academy. The H, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, is visiting Pennyroyal Green to attend a Redmond house party. Julian inherited his title from a dissolute father who managed to lose everything not entailed to the estate and Julian has been in the process of restoring the marquessate to its original wealth and extention of land. One last property he wishes to repossess is now owned by Isaiah Redmond, so he's courting Lisbeth Redmond with that goal in mind. It doesn't hurt that Lisbeth is gorgeous and one of the most sought after of heiresses.
Julian is pretty gorgeous and sought after himself by the women of the upper class and is much admired and emulated by the men. Everyone wants to be like him and imitates his every lifestyle choice, from clothing to hair to horses, you name it, they all want to be the same to the point of ridiculousness. This lends itself to some relatively amusing scenes in the book.
Long is an excellent writer of romance and could probably make the Yellow Pages romantic. She has a great way with dialogue and witty repartee and the way her heroes and heroines fall in love is stellar, just the way romance should be. Unfortunately, this particular romance did not touch me as much as hers usually do.
Lower-class Phoebe and upper-class Julian meet initially at Postlethwaite's Emporium in Pennyroyal Green, where Phoebe is admiring a bonnet far out of her price range and Julian is buying a pricey gift to take to Lisbeth. They meet again at the Academy where their interaction really begins and it carries over to the house party, where Phoebe is serving as companion to Lisbeth. I have to confess that I did not see the reason for the initial attraction between the two. It felt contrived, and the banter, which is usually very witty in a JAL romance, seemed to be trying too hard and came off as more "cute" than it did "witty". However, after establishing the attraction, Long makes it become quite lovely and palpable.
In addition to the banter being more cute than witty, the whole story felt too cute to me. Now, I'm not blaming the story. I think the problem lies with my age. There are HRs that appeal universally to the romance reader, whether she be 20 year old or over 60. This wasn't one of them. Instead of my enjoying the incidents with cat, hat and hair styles, I found them perhaps a bit over the top and tending at times toward the silly. But, as I say, it's me, not the book. If I had read this some 30 years ago, I would have totally loved it.
And, one more thing. Please, Ms Long, when do we get Lyon and Olivia's story?