In For a Penny by Rose Lerner
February 23, 2010
Paperback, 336 Pages
Reviewed by Mandi
Why did I read: It was offered for review by the author and after The Booksmugglers glowing review, I knew I had to read it.
Favorite quote: Penelope seemed haloed for an instant in perfect beauty, and he felt a sharp, unsettling pang as if someone had plucked one of his heartstrings, hard, and found it out of tune. It wasn’t like affection or lust – those he knew; it was something entirely unfamiliar.
Lord Nevinstoke, or Nev is a carefree, wealthy bachelor who enjoys drinking, gambling, and spending many nights with his mistress. He goes from party to party, with his friends, who often egg each other on to do mischievous things. At one such party, he meets Penelope Brown, a very wealthy daughter of a merchant – her father owns a brewery. Although her family does not have the high ranking background as his does, this doesn’t bother him one bit as he enjoys the brief time he spends with her.
Nev’s carefree ways are about to end when his father dies foolishly in a duel. Now Nev becomes Lord Bedlow, and with the title comes all the many debts his father has incurred. Debts that go into the tens of thousands and there is no way Nev can repay them. With a failing estate in the country, he starts selling off everything he can get his hands on. That is until he remembers the wealthy, single, Penelope Brown. Without another thought Nev races to her house and asks for her hand in marriage. He is totally honest with her, as his proposal goes something like – I’m broke, I need your money. Will you marry me?
Penelope remembers Nev from the one night they met, although she can’t quite figure out why he strikes such a chord with her. He isn’t overly dashing, but his honesty and the way he is truly baffled by numbers and financing, speaks to her. Penelope is good with the books, and knows she can be of use to him. Plus they share a common love of music, and Penelope without really thinking, says yes. The yes comes with a list of requirements she writes, and then becomes too embarrassed to show Nev, although he gets the paper away from her. The list includes how he must not be ashamed of her or her parents, and must give up his mistress. Nev agrees to all, ready to set out in a more mature life.
Now they move to the country to face an estate in financial ruins, and tenants who are very bad off. Moreover, they have to face each other as basically strangers and see if their impromptu marriage can turn into something much more.
In for a Penny is just a lovely historical romance. There is so much to love about both Nev and Penelope. To begin with, Nev is a little bit of a different hero. Yes he was a mischievous bachelor with no goal in life and imbibed in drink and women. He bumbles around and says the wrong things a lot. But, when his father dies, he really takes his responsibility seriously. He stops drinking, he tries to be a gentlemen for Penelope. He works very hard at this, but the funny thing is, deep down, Nev is a wonderful person without a bad bone in his body. He definitely has what it takes to be a Lord, but he relies on Penelope to help with the books, and doesn’t have the snobbery that the ton normally have. He is just a really sweet person, and I think Penelope picks up on that early.
Penelope is strong, very smart and willing to take a chance with this man, even though she is a virgin in so many ways. She knows her family is not prestigious and she knows Nev is really just marrying her for her money. But that is really alight with her.
What I most loved about this book is Nev and Penelope coming to know each other. Yes, his mother and sister make appearances and other people from the town, but there are many pages devoted to just the two of them learning about each other. We see their “courtship” and their progression to romance (which is definitely not lacking in this book.) Although Penelope comes from wealthy parents, her dowry is used to pay most of the debts. We see them frustrated at the state of their tenants and with how to help them with money they don’t have. They are two people with such good hearts – no trickery, no games. I think the book would have been just as good without the dramatic ending, but it did nothing to lessen my enjoyment of it.
In for a Penny is a very sweet, very solid romance and debut author Rose Lerner has gone to my auto-buy list.