I have been a fan of Jane Austen and the romance of the Regency era (as found in novels) for most of my life. However, I am fairly selective in the works that I read, and any time a novel claims to be a historical romance a la Jane Austen, I have high expectations. It's not just enough for the book to have historical regency accuracy or clean, tension-filled romance --the writing has to be solid. The character development needs to be believable, the plot needs to flow, I need to laugh, and there cannot be any modern social mores unrealistically inserted for the author's own personal agenda. (Longbourn, anyone?)
I remember very clearly the first time I picked up Julianne Donaldson's debut novel, Edenbrooke. I had read raving reviews (she won two Whitney Awards), but I still wasn't sold. What hooked me was how it was described on the cover: "A Proper Romance." Ah! That is something I could support. I gladly read it, and it has, quite honestly, become one of my favorite novels! I have read it several times, since (as well as Donaldson's other novel, Blackmoore). I was impressed because Donaldson fulfilled every one of my expectations for a regency romance.
As luck would have it, she has written a short eBook novelette that gives fans of Edenbrooke (like me!) a glimpse into the mind of Marianne's love interest (and hero), Sir Phillip. It is called Heir to Edenbrooke: A Prequel Novelette.
I was excited to read this short prequel, and Donaldson did not disappoint! As Edenbrooke is written entirely from Marianne's point of view, I found it enlightening and enjoyable to read more about Phillip from his perspective --his past, his relationship with his older brother, his feelings on inheriting, and why he was running away from Edenbrooke the night he met Marianne. I found myself going back and forth between the novel and the novelette throughout Marianne and Phillip's first conversation, and the dairy maid part was even funnier from his viewpoint! What I found lovely was that the consistency in what they said matched the consistency of their characters throughout the book. It was also just fun to go back to Edenbrooke in a new way, even for a short time.
Of course, I would highly recommend you first read Edenbrooke before reading Heir to Edenbrooke, as it gives away some plot points. Some of the most important revelations in the novel come because Marianne cannot read Phillip's mind, but even if you choose to read the novelette before the novel, I promise you will find it quite entertaining.
(My only negative reaction to the novelette was that it was entirely too short! But I guess the term "novelette" should have tipped me off...)
To order the eBook Heir to Edenbrooke (only $3.99!), go to any site eBooks are sold.
To view Julianne Donaldson's website and find where you can purchase Edenbrooke (or Blackmoore), go here.