cover image You May Kiss the Bride: The Penhallow Dynasty

You May Kiss the Bride: The Penhallow Dynasty

Lisa Berne. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-245178-1

In Berne’s lively and well researched debut Regency romance, Livia Stuart knows that hers is far from a fairy-tale existence. She was orphaned at the age of six in faraway India and summarily packed off to live with her sole English relatives. Her Aunt Bella and Uncle Charles see her only as an expense upon Ealdor Abbey, their ramshackle home in Wiltshire County. Now 18, Livia is no real beauty, has no inheritance and little education, and exists in that strange space between servant and gentry that leaves her completely vulnerable and lacking in prospects for advancement. She has a brief but memorable first encounter with wealthy Gabriel Penhallow; their second meeting, at a ball in honor of Gabriel’s likely offer of marriage to snooty, condescending Miss Cecily Orr, is far more remarkable, ending with Livia and Gabriel being found in a compromising situation. He awkwardly makes the obligatory proposal to save Livia’s reputation, but the two of them struggle to wring happiness from their hasty marriage until Livia decides it’s time to stand up for herself and stop to meekly fading into the woodwork. Berne’s consistent, engaging writing and solid knowledge of the period make for a wonderful evening’s reading. Agent: Cheryl Pientka, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Apr.)