In for a Penny
Rose Lerner
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Buy *In for a Penny* by Rose Lerner online

In for a Penny
Rose Lerner
310 pages
February 2010
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The last two books I have read share similarities: both take the idea of a titled man having to marry a fortune and of the marriage of convenience turning into a love match. Both are historical romances in worlds of horses and carriages, large family estates and more. However, only one of these books is a good read - this one.

In for a Penny starts a little inauspiciously for this reader, with a quote from another author about this book saying "Georgette Heyer watch out!" Likening historical romances to Heyer's books is usually a recipe for disaster as they never match up. In for a Penny doesn't match up either, but it is a very good effort and I enjoyed it very much.

Heyer's book A Civil Contract involves a mushroom/Cit who marries into the aristocracy because the lord is significantly in debt. This story starts similarly - Penelope Brown, daughter of a brewer and a significant heiress, finds herself suddenly courted by Lord Nevinstoke, a drinking and gambling rake whose money is running out. When Nev's father dies unexpectedly and he realizes the true state of the family finances, he proposes marriage to Penny, the only way that he can see out of his problem. Rather surprisingly, she says yes, and they begin married life.

This is where In for a Penny really hits its stride. I can't think of another book I've read which looks so closely at the lives of lords of the manor and their tenants when there's no money. Penny and Nev come face to face with the consequences of years of neglect and the potential of an uprising by their tenants. Combined with romantic entanglements from both of their pasts, their first months of marriage are hardly a lighthearted honeymoon. Still, the skills that Penny has for bookkeeping and Nev has for diplomacy and empathy might just see them through the difficult times.

This isn't a particularly easy read - there isn't a great deal of happiness and joy, even between hero and heroine. But the author evinces a quality turn of phrase that made me chuckle many times, and she seems to get into the minds of people of different classes and how they might feel about their interactions. In for a Penny is much better than most of today's historical romances - not as good as Georgette Heyer, of course, but still definitely worth a read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2010

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