Series & Title: The Improper Princesses, Book 1: My Fair Princess
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From: Zebra via NetGalley
Reviewed For: Tasty Book Tours
Follow the tour
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?
Two opposites who discover and fall deeply in love with another. This isn't a new romance idea. I've read it before. But it's attractive, you know? Like friends to lovers romances. They're familiar while being completely unfamiliar due to circumstances, characters, and, of course, the author.
Ms. Kelly is not a new-to-me author. She is not just a standby historical romance author either. She's my go-to when I need a historical romance fix. Her writing is beautiful and clear, precise and engaging.
That doesn't change with this story.
Charles and Gillian play the opposites attract trope to their advantage. He's her guide to becoming a proper lady. She's the crack in the sidewalk that trips him up every time. Yet, that original reason for coming together doesn't matter one iota when their hearts come into play. Their individual strengths and weaknesses melt away as they come to appreciate one another for who they really are. That knowledge gives them what is, in my opinion, the greatest foundation for their relationship to grow and thrive: trust.
The verbal sparring made for great reading but it wasn't the best thing about this story. For me, it was Gillian. She is a wonderfully made character. Her strength resonates from the pages. I laughed plenty as I read her antics, but I applauded and cheered loudly when she remained unmovable despite expectations and demands to become the proper lady she was supposed to be. Her "scandalous" behavior was hardly scandalous but rather an outward display of her unwillingness to compromise and/or change when it came to something she cared deeply about and believed wholeheartedly. Her intelligence added appeal that opened Charles' eyes to all he'd been missing.
Propriety has a place but so does impropriety. A life lived consistently within the walls of propriety is a life that hasn't been experienced as it should. That was Charles before Gillian. The Charles after Gillian was a completely different man, one I felt complimented without taking away from the woman Gillian always was.
This is a great starter to Ms. Kelly's new series. I wonder what adventures Ms. Kelly will write about the other princesses in this series. I can't wait to find out.
Vanessa 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.