Before I begin this review, I have to say that in a genre where where so many books have absolutely atrocious covers, where readers pick up and love the books despite the cover art, this book has one of my favourite covers in years. It fills me with joy and perfectly encapsulates the contents of the book. I wish more romances had covers this great.
While many of Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green books can be read out of order or completely independently of each other, this book is the culmination of the 11-book series, and as such, will probably not have the same impact on the reader as if it’s read without some previous knowledge of the series in general and Olivia and Lyon’s tragic romance in particular. There are SO many good books in this series, and one absolute classic. Go read some of them, then come back for this review.
It is said in Pennyroyal Green in Sussex, that the Redmonds and the Everseas have been enemies since the Dark Ages, but that once every generation, a Redmond and an Eversea will fall disastrously in love with each other. This generation’s doomed couple – Lyon Redmond and Olivia Eversea, who met at a small assembly and almost instantly fell incandescently in love, despite knowing that their parents would never approve. Meeting an hour here and there in secret, conducting their courtship as secretly as they could, completely oblivious to the fact that everyone around them could see that they were besotted. Then Lyon Redmond suddenly left England, never to return. Gossip said it was because Olivia Eversea broke his heart.
Five years and thousands of hothouse flowers delivered to her door, Olivia Eversea shocks everyone by accepting the proposal of Lord Landsdowne, a quiet and unprepossessing viscount. Their wedding is the social event of the season, and as most of her siblings have had quiet weddings, Mrs. Eversea is determined that Olivia will get married with pomp and occasion. Yet at every turn, there are reminders of her long-lost love. A popular ballad is created, sung on every street corner. Illustrated prints depicting the possible adventures of Lyon Redmond appear in shop windows. He is seen as the dashing hero, she as the withered Miss Havishamesque creature who jilted him.
Lyon Redmond has spent the years away from England making a fortune, proving with every action that loving Olivia Eversea is what he does best. Now she is marrying another, and it’s time for a reckoning between them. The last time he asked her, she refused to leave her family and go with him. Now Lyon will confront Olivia one last time and they will see if their love story is in fact a curse, or a blessing.