New Release Review: My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Posted August 30, 2016 by Emily in Blog Tour, Book Review, GIVEAWAY, New Releases / 1 Comment

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

New Release Review: My Fair Princess by Vanessa KellyMy Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly
Series: The Improper Princesses #1
Published by Kensington on August 30th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency, General
Pages: 352
Purchase Links: AmazoniBooksKoboIndieBoundGoogle Play
ADD TO GOODREADS: Goodreads
Heat Index:three-flames

First, Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .

Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.

Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?


Rating:One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Also in this series: Three Weeks with a Princess
Also by this author: Three Weeks with a Princess
*Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below: a Grand Prize winner to get a $25 Amazon gift card;  and four runners up to receive a copy of CONFESSIONS OF A ROYAL BRIDEGROOM and HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER*

 

Review

In her Renegade Royals series, author Vanessa Kelly explored the lives and loves of the fictional bastards of King George III’s numerous sons. Her new series, The Improper Princesses, delves into the stories of the Royal Princes’ illegitimate daughters, starting with My Fair Princess, the Pygmalion tale of Gillian Dryden and her search for acceptance.

These royal illegitimate children are marked for life by their parents’ scandal, forever living on the fringe of ‘proper’ society, blue-blooded yet tainted. Men of the Regency era were afforded opportunities to rise above their birth and seek happiness on their own terms, as demonstrated by the Royal Renegades. Unfortunately for the Improper Princesses, the perceived sins of their mothers become theirs and without society’s acceptance they faced a life of judgment and isolation, a fact My Fair Princess thoughtfully addresses.

In the wake of Gillian’s mother’s scandalous royal affair, the family left England for Italy,  eventually settling in Sicily, where her mother found a loving man to accept her and Gillian. Following the murder of her beloved step-father, Gillian set out on a course of vengeance, training to exact retribution rather than practicing her dancing and needlework. A dangerous turn of events forces the family back to England, where it is quickly apparent Gillian is not prepared for London ballrooms and drawing rooms.

Refusing to accept defeat, Gillian Dryden’s aristocratic maternal grandmother seeks the help of distant relation Charles Valentine Penley, Sixth Duke of Leverton to launch Gillian into London’s social scene.

And thank goodness she did! Without Lady Marbury’s ingenious scheme to elicit the assistance of the unimpeachable ‘head’ of their family Gillian and Charles might not have embarked on the endearing friendship and engaging romance that fill the pages of My Fair Princess from start to finish. From their initial meeting, sparks fly between Gillian and Charles. The dialogue between the two is quick-witted and flows so naturally that the characters leap off the page. The action scenes are seamlessly written and the sensual moments are handled beautifully.

Charles, aka “Peerless/Perfect Penley,” finds Gillian fascinating (and exhausting and exhilarating and damnably attractive). He expected to find the “perfect” English woman to fill the role of his Duchess, without such annoying complications as love involved. The more time he spends with Gillian, the more flawed his plan seems and more appealing Gillian becomes. Rather than writing Gillian as being resentful of Charles, Ms. Kelly offers a refreshing take on their dynamic and chooses to have Gillian appreciate his time and effort (even if she initially prefers to return to Sicily and thus scoffs at the idea of his tutoring).  While Gillian might have been initially put off by Charles’ apparent perfection, she quickly comes to appreciate him as a person, not just a title. She’s drawn to his innate kindness and honor —as well as his distracting good looks, especially when he smiles, something he does quite often in her presence.  Readers of My Fair Princess will find it hard not to smile along with Charles and Gillian as they navigate the trappings of the ton and their path towards love. A true gem of a book!

Excerpt from My Fair Princess

“So, you’re the one who’s going to tame the savage,” she said in a crisp voice that carried the hint of an exotic accent. “What fun for both of us.”

Her grandmother let out a heavy sigh, and even Griffin shook his head. The duke, however, simply regarded her with a perfectly unruffled manner, as if she were some recently discovered species, only vaguely interesting. Gillian began to get quite a bad feeling that she’d finally met her match.

She’d been hearing for weeks how Leverton was the key to solving Gillian’s little problem, as her family called it. According to them, he was perfectly suited to guide her into society’s good graces, and perfectly capable of managing away even the most troublesome elements of her background.

He must be a bloody perfect miracle worker, if that was the case.

As she cautiously eyed him, she couldn’t help concluding that he did seem rather perfect in some respects. He was certainly prettier than she was, with thick, tawny-colored hair, striking blue eyes, and a face straight off a Greek statue. And he was certainly a good deal more stylish than she was, although that was true of almost anyone. But even she could appreciate the way his beautifully tailored coat showcased his broad shoulders, and how his breeches clung to his muscled legs with nary a wrinkle. As for his cravat, it was practically a work of art.

In fact, he was so damn perfect it made her stomach hurt. She’d been drawn in by perfection before, and it had almost ruined her.

“Stop trying to shock us, Gillian,” her grandmother said. “You know quite well it won’t work.”

Au contraire, Lady Marbury,” Griffin said. “I find myself quite riven with horror.”

He flashed Gillian the conspiratorial smile that always made her feel someone truly did understand her. And, more important, Griffin didn’t find her wanting, unlike apparently everyone else in London. She couldn’t wait to shake the dirt of England from her boots and return to Sicily—the sooner, the better.

“Miss Dryden is quite right,” Leverton said.

Gillian frowned. “I am? About what, exactly?”

He slowly crossed the room to her. He didn’t prowl, precisely, but something in the way he moved made her think of . . . a wolf, perhaps. Slipping silently through the night as he hunted in silence.

An exceedingly clever wolf, she guessed. One with very sharp teeth well suited for ripping apart a person’s carefully ordered life.

Leverton’s height forced her to tilt back her head to meet his gaze, and she found herself staring into eyes a beautiful shade of cobalt. She had to admit they were really quite amazing.

“Please believe me, Miss Dryden, when I say I meant no insult. I was merely surprised by a few details regarding your situation. It caused me to forget my manners.” A glint of amusement lurked in his gaze.

Her stomach twisted at the notion that he might be laughing at her. But when he smiled, her stomach seemed to untwist and start dancing with butterflies.

“Come, my dear girl,” he said in his beautifully cultured voice. “I beg you to forgive me before I’m compelled to do something drastic—like throw myself at your feet. That would be embarrassing for both of us.”

“Bloody coxcomb,” Griffin muttered.

Leverton ignored the aside, keeping his attention on Gillian. Her heart began to thump and heat crawled up her neck. “Oh, very well,” she grumbled. “I forgive you.”

“You are most gracious,” Leverton said. “Now, perhaps we can start over and leave all this awkwardness behind.”

“What a splendid idea,” Grandmamma said. “Your Grace, my granddaughter, Miss Gillian Dryden.”

The duke bowed as if she hadn’t just tumbled through the door, and as if they hadn’t just spent the last few minutes insulting each other.

“Gillian, I have the pleasure of introducing you to the Duke of Leverton,” Grandmamma added.

“Good Lord. I know who he is,” Gillian replied, not hiding her exasperation.

“Then make him a curtsey, my dear. A proper one.”

Repressing the urge to roll her eyes—one curtsey was as good as another, as far as she was concerned—Gillian dipped down and quickly came up.

Leverton’s eyebrows ticked up. On him, she rather expected it was the equivalent of a horrified gasp.

Well, nobody ever said she was graceful, at least when it came to that sort of silliness.

“Hmm,” he said. “We’ll have to work on that.”

“It’s all nonsense, if you ask me,” Gillian said. “All this bowing and scraping like a peasant before his master. Perhaps you’d like me to polish your boots while I’m at it.”

His disapproving gaze made her blink, and she almost took a step back. This was a man who did not like being crossed.

“Gillian Dryden, you will cease acting like heathen,” her grandmother rapped out.

“I had no idea you had revolutionary tendencies, Miss Dryden,” the duke said. “How very interesting. And no, I would not like you to polish my boots.  My valet would not approve.”

Now he sounded bored. And if he was bored, he would be more likely to go away and leave her alone. Splendid.

Still, she couldn’t help feeling irked by his dismissive tone and demeanor. The Duke of Leverton was certainly a snob and probably a fop. She didn’t know which was worse.

“Why would you think I have revolutionary tendencies, sir?” she added in a sugary-sweet voice. “Is it because I think I’m as good as anyone else, despite my unfortunate social status?”

Gillian braced herself for the expected put-down. She’d grown used to being labeled a prince’s by-blow, or worse. It was best to simply accept it and then do her best to avoid anyone who looked down on her because of her parentage. She’d learned that hard lesson a long time ago.

The duke studied her for a few moments before replying. “Of course you are.”

“Of course I am what?” she asked.

“As good as anyone else. Any sensible person must think so,” he said.

“That eliminates most of the ton,” Griffin said.

Leverton seemed to weigh her brother’s droll comment. “I believe your assessment is too pessimistic, Steele. Shall we say, perhaps fifty percent?”

The exchange was so silly that Gillian had to laugh. Leverton’s eyebrows ticked up again, but not, she thought, with disapproval. Then he flashed her another dazzling smile that made her feel like the floor had just tipped sideways.

“That’s much better,” he said.

She shook her head, exasperated. “I don’t understand any of this.”

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About Author Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa KellyVanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.

Author Links:  Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads

About Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa Kelly is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance.

Vanessa’s previous series, The Renegade Royals, was a national bestseller. She is currently writing a spin-off series called The Improper PrincessesMy Fair Princess, book 1, was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month. Vanessa also writes USA Today Bestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. 

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