Julie Anne Long
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Series or Standalone: Pennyroyal Green #6
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: bullying; gun violence; sexual assault
This book. THIS BOOK! Unputdownable. Fan-freaking-tastic. This is my favorite thus far of the Pennyroyal Green series. I had actually read this book way back in 2016, but forgot I had read it before, so I loved rediscovering the story as bits and pieces came back to me as I started reading.
Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden has earned the nickname Lord Ice as he’s known for being ruthless, cold, and precise and he only tolerates the finest things. And now he’s found the perfect bride in Lisbeth Redmond, as with her dowry he’ll regain the last piece of his family’s shattered legacy. However, when Julian meets Lisbeth’s paid companion, Phoebe Vale, he cannot get her out of his head. Phoebe, constantly overlooked, has a fiery wit and is the first person to see through Julian’s icy facade to the real man beneath it. As the attraction between them grows, Julian has to choose between his heart and his head.
This book is why I love reading romances. I love all the emotions and the journey you go on with the characters. While you know they’ll get their happily ever after in the end, it’s all about the fun and unique ways an author can get them to that point. Julie Anne Long truly delivers on the romance in this one. I was hooked from the opening with our hero stumbling into the Pig & Thistle after being shot to jumping back in time six weeks.
Seriously, the romance in this gave me all the feelings. It was just so good. The romantic tension was terrific, and Long hit all the right emotional notes in the story. Seriously, I had so many FEELINGS while reading this – it was a rollercoaster. Phoebe and Julian were just made for each other. I loved how far gone he was for Phoebe, and he didn’t even know it. He sees her and hears and shows he cares by remembering the little things like what bonnet she was admiring and what plant she was collecting in the forest. Their banter is fantastic, yet I also loved that their conversation could go deeper. There is a connection between them that goes beyond lust as they feel safe confiding in each other and genuinely want to know the other person. And as perfect as the romance is, there are some heart-stabbing feelings as it doesn’t always go smoothly. I love those angsty moments in a romance, so I loved the journey I went on with these two as there was some angst and a lot of pining (a personal favorite).
Also, can I say that I don’t normally find duels romantic as it’s usually two pigheaded men thinking they have to do something to protect a woman. But Julian being willing to duel for Phoebe? Ugh, so romantic especially considering his aversion to duels thanks to his father and reputation as Lord Ice.
Part of the reason the romance excels in this book is thanks to the character. First off, I should have known as soon as I learned Julian was nicknamed Lord Ice that I would love this book because who doesn’t love watching a ruthless man with an iron fist on his emotions fall head over heels in love? I mean, come on!
I truly adored Julian. He’s determined to be the opposite of his father, a philanderer killed in a duel over a woman who was not his wife, so he keeps his emotions guarded. He’s determined to restore the estate his father squandered away, even if it means putting his feelings aside regarding marriage. He disdains the fashionable set in Society, even though they’re obsessed with him. His actions speak for his feelings as he’s willing to risk life and limb for a cat to make Phoebe happy. This man is a gem.
Speaking of Phoebe, I adored her. She’s 22 but comes off a lot older and more mature than the other woman her age. Her feelings are frequently overlooked, and she just wants to find people with whom she can be friends and hopefully find love, as she’s been on her own for so long. I loved how she had a fangirl crush on Julian before meeting him as she would follow his adventures in the scandal sheets – being confronted with the real man turned her feelings for him on its head. I adored that she doesn’t back down without a fight when she’s hurt. She’s got way more backbone than anyone gives her credit for. Also, I LOVED her cat Charybdis who lures people in with belly rubs before attacking.
The story moved at a perfect pace, and I stayed up way too late trying to finish this book! I loved the story’s framing as we worked our way up to the events in the opening chapter. And just when you think you know how Julian ended up in the situation, Long throws in an unexpected twist. The storyline of Phoebe becoming the original and popular in Society hits me right in the emotions every time. As a reader, you can see what’s happening and the heartache to come, yet it still hurts when the truth about everything is revealed. Poor Phoebe. Truly Lisbeth and the others are the worst. Lisbeth is such a petty, petty child, and I hated her.
How the Marquess Was Won is one of my favorite romances by Julie Anne Long. It has all the elements I love about her stories – swoon-worthy romances, rich and compelling characters, engaging plots and fantastic writing with plenty of emotions and humor woven in. If you haven’t read the rest of the Pennyroyal Green books, do yourself a favor and pick this one up! It can be read as a standalone and enjoyed as a standalone as it’s the first book that does not center on an Eversea or Redmond. You seriously will not be disappointed.