Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the most awkward of ducklings. She is a disaster magnet, with no polish, a penchant for saying whatever comes to her mind, and a best friend (Lady Bathsheba) who is a goat. So the dowager Duchess of Blackthorne and her daughter, Anne, Lady Radclyff, have their work cut out for them. It doesn't help that Charles, the present duke, despises Penelope, and wants to send her back to Finnshire. What they don't know is that Penelope has no home to go back to, since her stepmother hates her. Penelope has one chance to have a home, and that's to succeed at finding a husband. If only she could do something right and temper her incautious, enthusiastic ways, so she can have a chance at a home and a family of her own.
The Radclyff women recruit Madame Bellafraunde, a dynamo at styling women of the ton, who just happens to be a man dressed as a woman, to turn Penelope into a stylish young lady who can catch a husband. What ensues is moment after moment of zany scenes, as Penelope struggles to find her feet in a new world. The Duke of Blackthorne slowly finds his feelings change for Penelope, her sweet spirit and generous, authentic nature finding the key to his frozen heart. Now if he could only convince Penelope that he doesn't hate her. There's also the matter of his mean-spirited fianceé, Lady Lydia Snowly.
Penelope is a laugh riot. This is a book for romance readers who really want to enjoy themselves with lots of slapstick-style comedic scenes and absurdity. Penelope is absolutely adorable. Her sweetness and honest spirit makes her a heroine that readers will love. At times, I wondered how she could constantly stumble from disaster to disaster, but it's all in fun. Mixed with the hilarious moments is pathos for Penelope's situation. She lost her true mother at birth, and was never loved by her stepmother. She never felt accepted in her own home. She hasn't had the same opportunities as many, but that doesn't stop her from being a young woman of courage and strength.
Charles, Duke Blackthorne is not very likable for most of the book. He says the most horrible things to Penelope, which makes him seem like a puppy-kicker. I loved that Penelope stood up to him, and demanded his respect. She didn't try to fit into his narrow boxes and narrow world, and over time, he realizes that he loves her for who she is, despite her lack of a verbal filter and penchant for disaster. While I didn't much care for Charles initially, he does come around and redeem himself, and he and Penelope have great chemistry. I wanted him to fall in love with her, just because that would be the last possible thing a lofty duke like himself would ever consider doing.
This novel is populated with quirky characters that kept me laughing and engaged in the story. I love to laugh, and Anya Wylde definitely had me laughing with this book. I couldn't wait to see what zany disaster would occur next. I liked the crazy twist on "My Fair Lady", with a little cross-dressing thrown in.
Penelope is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It's unashamedly goofy, but it's done so well, this book is infectiously readable as a result. I would recommend this novel to readers who love funny romance stories. Penelope is a heroine that you can't help but love. Charles isn't quite as likable, which is why this isn't a five star read, but I did like how he comes to realize that he can't resist falling in love with Penelope. And it's great to see her get the happy ending she deserves. Definitely recommended!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Danielle Hill.
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