23 June 2013

It Happened One Midnight (Pennyroyal Green #8)

Summary from Goodreads:

More than one beautiful woman’s hopes have been dashed on the rocky shoals of Jonathan Redmond’s heart. With his riveting good looks and Redmond wealth and power, the world is his oyster—until an ultimatum from his father and a chilling gypsy prophesy send him hurtling headlong toward a fate he’ll do anything to avoid: matrimony.

Intoxicating, elusive Thomasina de Ballesteros has the bloods of London at her feet. But none of them knows the real Tommy—the one with a shocking pedigree, a few too many secrets, and a healthy scorn for rakes like Jonathan.

She is everything Jonathan never wanted. But on one fateful midnight, he’s drawn into Tommy's world of risk, danger…and a desire he’d never dreamed possible. And suddenly he’s re-thinking everything...including the possibility that succumbing to prophesy might just mean surrendering to love.

In Like No Other Lover, the second book from Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series, Jonathan Redmond receives a prophecy from a Gypsy: he will have ten children and break hearts. And he does – break hearts, that is, because no lady of the ton has yet enticed him into matrimony. Until the day his staid father issues an ultimatum: Jonathan will receive no more monetary assistance from him, nor investments, unless he marries. Marries appropriately, that is, since Lyon is still missing and Miles married the unsuitable Cynthia. Jonathan is now cash-poor and desperate to prove himself to his father.

Thomasina de Ballesteros – Tommy to everyone – is the mysterious beauty who has captivated the rakes of the ton. Tommy, however, has no use for any of them. Unless they can provide her with access the Duke of Greyfolk, possibly, but her reasons for that need are her own. When Jonathan catches her spying through Greyfolk’s window the two exchange barbs then part. They don’t need one another. Fate keeps throwing them together. Tommy needs to turn a quick profit and Jonathan needs capital to invest in a four-color printing press. A daring nighttime excursion to rescue an enslaved child and a shady mill operation keep Jonathan and Tommy working together, but external forces (parents, Society, money) work against them.

I really like the concept of this installment in the Pennyroyal Green series. The idea of self-made men (and women) was very radical in the Regency era. In a way, that freed Jonathan from his father’s strictures – by not being tied to “old money” he was able to make his own decision regarding Tommy. The problems of modern corporate capitalism are echoed here in the Mercury Club investment group and their refusal to acknowledge the virtual enslavement of children. There is a beautiful chapter later in the book as Violet gives birth to Ardmay’s child. But there are some parts of the book I found highly improbable, particularly regarding the Diamonds of the First Water deck. While funny and daring and a way to use the cattiness of Society ladies against them whilst making a heap of money off of vanity (then using the idea to turn the tables on Isaiah Redmond) I just didn’t buy the concept in the historical setting. A young lady considered a “diamond of the first water” would not have risked her reputation by deliberately posing (and then ensuring all London knew she had personally modeled for the portrait) for something as vulgar as a deck of playing cards.

Before receiving the DRC of It Happened One Midnight I hadn’t read any of the Pennyroyal Green series so I power-read the first seven books. While one could read this eighth installment by itself, I understood considerably more about why Isaiah Redmond acted the way he did since I took the time to read the series. The series also has an interesting layout by alternating between the Redmond (even numbered books) and Eversea (odd numbered books) families, the Capulets and Montagues of the town of Pennyroyal Green. It Happened One Midnight is a quick read, enjoyable for Tommy’s and Jonathan’s financial daring, but I didn’t get the same enjoyment from the book as I did with book 3 (I Kissed An Earl) or book 7 (A Notorious Countess Confesses), which I consider Long’s best installment to date. There are still a few unwed Redmonds and Everseas and I am interested to see how Long concludes the series.

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