Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale
Book One of the Cavendish series
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
In the first novel of Maya Rodale's stunning new series, an American heiress must learn to navigate London society and an infuriatingly irresistible rake . . .
Lord Darcy is the quintessential Englishman: wealthy, titled, impossibly proper, and horrified that a pack of Americans has inherited one of England's most respected dukedoms. But his manners, his infamous self-restraint, and his better judgment fly out the window when he finds himself with the maddening American girl next door.
Lady Bridget Cavendish has grand—but thwarted—plans to become a Perfect Lady and take the haute ton by storm. In her diary, Bridget records her disastrous attempts to assimilate into London high society, her adoration of the handsome rogue next door, her disdain for the Dreadful Lord Darcy, and some truly scandalous secrets that could ruin them all.
It was loathing at first sight for Lady Bridget and Lord Darcy. But their paths keep crossing . . . and somehow involve kissing. When Lady Bridget's diary goes missing, both Darcy and Bridget must decide what matters most of all—a sterling reputation or a perfectly imperfect love.
What I Liked:
I received an ARC of this from Avon, for the Avon Addicts program. I also received an eARC from Avon via Edelweiss. Both were for free. This in no way affected my opinion.
I ADORED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I had a feeling, because it's Maya Rodale and she is sooooo good (I love her Wallflower series!). This book is definitely my favorite of the ones I've read by her, and in running for favorite romance novel of 2016! (Obviously I have eleven and a half more months for this to stay put or change.) I do not think I will be able to do this book justice, so please forgive the possibly short review!
Bridget and her older brother, older sister, and younger sister are leaving America and joining the haute ton of England. As it would turn out, James is the new Duke of Durham, inherited from his deceased uncle. The three sisters as well the as new Duke must learn (quickly) how to fit into society - but every attempt is a complete disaster, especially when it comes to Bridget. Bridget writes down her family's disasters, from falling in the middle of a ballroom, to Amelia's brief disappearance... to Bridget's scandalously delicious kiss with Lord Darcy ("Dreadful Darcy"). But when the diary goes missing, Bridget and Darcy must decide what to do about the impending scandal and ruination.
I haven't read too many books involving American heirs/heiresses (if any at all?), so this was a new experience. I love how "American" and different the Cavendish family is! The three girls are simply too wild for English society; all the hasty lessons in manners and deportment have done nothing to ease or slow the disasters that follow the girls. Bridget falls at their first ball, Claire is much more interested in mathematics, and Amelia tells someone that she likes to ride horses. And James - he prefers to be riding horses than navigating through a sea of social-climbing young women.
Bridget is probably one of my favorite historical romance heroines, at least in the least year or two. I can't remember giggling so much while reading an HR novel! Bridget isn't necessarily clumsy, but she doesn't have the grace and hardness that the English noblewomen have drilled into them since birth. Bridget has so much character and wit and charm and wickedness. She is the only one of the sisters that really wants to try to fit into polite society; but I hoped that she would never become like those stuffy, shallow girls in society.
Lord Darcy (whose lovely given name is Colin Wright - I love the name Colin!) is the paragon of an English nobleman. He's a very important earl with lots of power, money, and a spotless reputation. He's stiff and completely expressionless and emotionless, at least in terms of outward appearances. Since he was little, his father and tutors taught him how to properly be a gentleman and the heir to a very powerful title. So, Darcy is extremely stiff and immobile and emotionless, and it's shocking to him when the teasing of an impertinent American sister of a duke actually gets to him. Despite Darcy being very hard to read, he's very swoony in his own way! I mean, physically, he's supposed to be very attractive, but the whole silent thing really works in his favor, and he's one of the most eligible bachelors.
At first, it seems like Bridget will marry Darcy's younger brother, Rupert. Rupert it charming and handsome and comes to Bridget's rescue many times. But there are circumstances that Bridget knows nothing of, which makes Rupert an ineligible match. But for a good portion of the book, Bridget is convinced that Rupert will propose to her... all the while, she can't keep her eyes (and interest) off Darcy.
Ahhh, the romance. Watching these two interact is SO precious. Darcy is practically a robot (it's cute, really!), and Bridget is an impertinent, witty not-quite-yet-a-lady. Darcy's like a block of ice, whereas Bridget is a wildfire - she thaws him out. First there is lust, but Darcy doesn't want to act on it because he thinks his brother will propose (again, this CAN'T happen, but Bridget doesn't know that), as well as Darcy is supposed to be looking for a perfect English lady (not an uncivilized American!). So it's a lot of push and pull, a hate-to-love type of relationship (apathy-to-love?). I LOVED seeing these two interact, and fall in love!
The chemistry between them is a slow-burn chemistry, just like the romance. There is tension between them from the start. but Bridget doesn't really pay attention to Darcy (she doesn't really notice that he is an attractive man) until A Certain Event occurs - and same for Darcy. So cute! And hilarious - definitely one of my favorite scenes of the book.
If any of you is wondering about a love triangle - nope! It's all Darcy and Bridget, and they are ridiculously cute and hilarious. It takes a while for Darcy to thaw, but when he does... *fans self* There is only one real love scene in this book, but it was pretty steamy! It seems to be Rodale's style, to only have one sex scene in her books. Which is fine, but this book could have benefited from many more of those scenes! However, the one scene really fit, especially in terms of how Darcy and Bridget are, and the circumstances of their relationship (semi forbidden, as Darcy doesn't expect to fall for the American, and Bridget was still foolishly waiting for Rupert to propose, not for the entire book though).
I adore Bridget, and Darcy and Bridget and Darcy. I love the Cavendish siblings and their family dynamic! They are very true to each other and very devoted to each other. Darcy is also very committed to helping his brother - he doesn't want Rupert to be a thing like him, or their father. I love how important family is, in this book.
Overall, I am a HUGE fan of this book. It wouldn't have gotten the rare five-star rating from me otherwise. I can't wait to read Amelia's book next!
What I Did Not Like:
Come on, Maya - more love scenes, please! There was only one sex scene, and it could have been much more drawn out. Maybe another one at the very end or something! I did love the thick tension and chemistry between the characters though!
Would I Recommend It:
I soooo recommend this book to historical romance fans. Like, definitively, YES. Don't miss this book. I had a "miss" book just a few days ago (The Rogue by Katharine Ashe) but this book was a HUGE hit. Like I may go reread it right now because the whole book was hilarious and swoony and enjoyable and not filled with angst! No heartbreaking stretches or crazy climax/ending. And yet the story (outside of the romance) captured my attention entirely. Ah! You need this book!
4.5 stars -> rounded up to 5 stars. This is my first five-star rating of 2016! That really did not take long (it's my eighth read of the year). So much love for this gorgeous book! I can't wait to read Amelia's side of things, in Chasing Lady Amelia!
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