Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Pennyroyal where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new matrimony. When British mud makes British hands unclean. From forth the fruitful loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers fuck up their life. Whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their pining cause everyone to take a wife. The fearful passage of their forbidden love and the continuance of their parents’ rage, which, but their children’s matrimony, naught could remove, is now the lengthy traffic of this post – the which, if you with patient eyes attend, what here shall miss, my review shall strive to mend.
…and that’s about as much of that as I can manage.
This series revolves around 2 families, the Everseas and the Redmonds, both of whom have begrudgingly coexisted in the Sussex town of Pennyroyal Green for centuries. The mutual animosity started generations ago – something about a stolen cow – and now the families mostly avoid each other. Both families are loaded, but while the Redmonds are known for being reserved and refined, the Everseas are generally fun-loving troublemakers. Local legend says that every generation a slayer is born an Eversea and Redmond are destined to fall in love, and the most recent afflicted seem to be Redmond heir Lyon and beautiful Olivia Eversea. Rumour has it that she broke his heart, so now Lyon has disappeared without a trace, while Olivia has become jaded and bitter. Each book in the series revolves around a particular member of either the Redmond or Eversea clans, while the last entry comes full circle and gives us the return of Lyon.
Book 1 – The Perils of Pleasure
The series starts off with Colin, the youngest Eversea male and the most notorious. Years of scandals and breaking hearts have finally caught up to Colin, and he is about to be hanged for a murder he did not commit. In swoops Madeleine Greenway, kickass Jane-of-all-trades type, who has been hired to save Colin from the gallows. Unfortunately for Madeleine, her employer actually had no intention of paying her, so now her only hope of collecting that paycheque is to stick with the handsome rogue as he attempts to clear his name. Colin enlists Madeleine’s help to track down a witness who can confirm his innocence, but who was spirited away in a mystery carriage before the trial. Colin is also on a bit of a time crunch, as his eldest brother Marcus is set to marry Colin’s erstwhile fiancée in a matter of days. Obviously, as it turns out, Colin just might have more in common with the woman who helped him hide in a casket than he does with his small-town sweetheart.
This was a great introduction to the series. Colin is charming and confident, but still shaken by his time in prison. Madeleine is fully capable and self-reliant, quick to call Colin on his shit, even if she is a sucker for that smile. The descriptions of London’s seedy underground – with things like “resurrectionists” – made for an interesting history lesson, and the identity of Colin’s mysterious benefactor managed to totally surprise me. Throughout the book, we are also introduced to the many Redmonds and Everseas in Pennyroyal Green, which sets up the rest of the series nicely.
Book 2 – Like No Other Lover
The second entry in the series gives us an introduction into the wealthy, respectable, and way less fun-sounding Redmond family. Namely Miles Redmond, second son and forever in the shadow of the missing golden boy Lyon in his father’s eyes. Miles has managed to make his own mark on the world however, by becoming a famous explorer and publishing a book about his exotic adventures in Lacao. Back in Sussex and looking for funding for another expedition, he is ordered to preside over a gathering at the Redmond home, as well as to find a respectable bride. In glides completely inappropriate but beautiful Cynthia Brightly, friend of Violet Redmond, who has come to the country in the hopes of outrunning a scandal and snaring a husband. Naturally, inconvenient sparks fly even as they both set their sights on other people.
This one was a solid entry, if not as exciting as the first book. I liked that Miles and Cynthia have some history together, and so he gets to have his former-nerd revenge. Cynthia is a complicated character, not immediately likable due to her Queen B status and tendency to play the people around her. The dynamic between the two of them is good, but I found it unfortunate that so many others had to be hurt in the process. We do get a glimpse into the other members of the Redmond family – most notably wild and reckless Violet, and asshole control freak Isiah – which helped me look forward to the later Redmond books.
This post was getting really long, so click here for my review of books 3-5.