I am a big fan of Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series; and I did like this latest installment, but it took me a while to warm up to it. The romance was a very slow burn and I found myself impatient through the first half, waiting to get to the romance. It's a friendship to love story and it seemed like the friendship part lasted a long time. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but just as it took our couple awhile to get on board with the lovin' -- it took me just as long to get excited about them together.
Our hero, Jonathan, is the youngest of the Redmond clan. Few people take him seriously, especially not his father. But there is more to Jonathan than meets the eye. Behind his good looks and rakish charm, he has a mind for business. He even has a lucrative venture in mind. Unfortunately, his father won't give him the backing he needs. Even worse, he demands Jonathan marry an "appropriate" woman or be cut off financially from the family.
Thomasina --Tommy-- exists on the fringe of society. She is no proper lady, but she is no courtesan either. She helps plays hostess to popular parties, and is universally desired by the men who frequent them. Her carefree and attractive persona is a just a mask she wears, however. She lives hand to mouth, comes from a difficult childhood, and has a higher calling that constantly places her in danger.
In meeting Jonathan, Tommy finds a kindred spirit. They have the same wit and social parrying skills. They see through each other's bullshit, frankly, and come out friends because of it. And it's a good long while before it progresses beyond that. In the interim, they end up showing each other their true selves... something few others ever see. By the time they start to see each other with romantic interest, they are so close, they can't imagine living without each other, despite all the common sense reasons they should be with other people.
I liked the characters. I liked the plot and I thought Tommy's cause was a great one. I felt for her as she struggled without anyone to love her. I loved that she maintained her independence and worked to live up to her personal morality. Jonathan, meanwhile, was sexy and an interesting blend of earnest and jaded. But I never burned for them to get together. Sure, it was nice once they did --and the book picked up at that point-- but I didn't feel much tension between the two of them in the first half. First they were friends; then they were briefly friends with (less than sex) benefits; then true lovers. I guess the tension was supposed to be in that middle phase but it was underwhelming. Not bad by any stretch. I just wasn't excited.
I had hoped to love it more.
*ARC Provided by Avon