Friday, June 20, 2014

Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning

The Basics:
Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Book One in the Thornbrook Park series
Historical Romance
Published June 3, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

The cover looked sweet and I like the publisher.


Disowned for marrying beneath her, Eve Kendal returns to England destitute after her husband's death and the mysterious disappearance of their savings. Her childhood friend, the Countess of Averford, takes her in, and sparks fly between Eve and the Earl's brother. But Captain Marcus Thorne has his own demons to face, and as they begin a steamy affair, secrets from the past threaten the whole estate...

My thoughts:

Thornbrook Park takes place just after the turn of the 20th century - I don't know that I've ever read a book set in this period before, so there was some appeal in that. This is the time of Downton Abbey, a time when we're shifting into muddier class systems in Britain.

I think the book leverages this in a couple of ways. One is that the romance is between a second son and a widow without a family support system, who needs to learn to support herself. Yes, they're still upper class, but there aren't any titles on the line.

There's also a sense of forward motion - there are references to newspaper articles about women getting the vote elsewhere in Europe, one of the female characters is quite modern in her thinking and I was really struck by the ease of railroad transport. The ability to commute back and forth to London on the trains was an important factor in the story.

So... the story? Is quite good. I enjoyed how out of the ordinary Eve was, because of her position as a widow. The expectations for behaviour were slightly different - certainly, there were still rules for propriety but her ability to carry on an affair was quite a contrast to the usual tension around  historical romance heroines retaining their virginity and all pretenses of innocence.

There is a *lot* of back and forth in this one, and the business around Eve's finances is... perhaps a little silly in the grand scheme? I didn't feel as though it was a particularly menacing situation. Still, I enjoyed that Eve was very proactive about tracking down her money - she's a very personable character, putting others at ease, very supportive and thinking of others ahead of her own interests.

The flirtation between Marcus and Eve was also quite enjoyable. They had a genuine chemistry that leapt off the page. Their banter made me smile.... This book made me feel good!

Bottom line:

Thornbrook Park is a success - I loved Eve and Marcus and was rooting for them throughout. I hope there's a book in this series devoted to the investigator that helps Eve with her case!

4 stars
For fans of historical romance, early twentieth century romance, prizefighters, widows getting a second chance at love.

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