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?
Praise for Vanessa Kelly’s Renegade Royals series
“Will definitely resonate with fans of Mary Jo Putney and Joanne Bourne.” —Booklist
“Kelly combines diverting dialogue, delightful surprises and finely tuned pacing to make this a winner.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Beverley A. Crick is a New York-based actress and accomplished voice-over artist. Her credits include film, television, commercials, radio, corporate narrations, looping, theater, comedy, and hosting. Her humor, dedication to research, and sensibility to nuance collectively inform all her narrations.
Read an Excerpt
My Fair Princess
By Vanessa Kelly
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Vanessa Kelly
All rights reserved.
The man who'd murdered her stepfather was finally in her sights.
Unfortunately, he was still beyond her rifle's range. Gillian Dryden breathed out a curse that would have had her grandmother boxing her ears. They would need to get much closer to the bandits before taking a shot.
"You didn't learn that dainty expression in the salons of Palermo's distinguished nobles, I'll wager," her brother murmured. Like her own, Griffin Steele's gaze was locked on the small cluster of men in the gorge below them.
"Indeed not. Their language is a great deal more shocking."
When Griffin huffed out a laugh, Gillian's heart warmed with wonder and gratitude. Strictly speaking, he was her half brother, which didn't make him any less of a marvel. She'd only met him a few weeks ago, and yet there he was lying next to her on a limestone outcropping in the hardscrabble Sicilian hills. As was hers, Griffin's rifle was aimed with deadly intent. If that didn't constitute true familial affection, she couldn't think what did. Particularly since he didn't entirely approve of her actions.
"You do realize I'm here under duress," he said, echoing her thoughts. That was another thing she'd discovered about him. He had a precise ability to read people.
Gillian peered at their target, a hulking man who'd just swung off his horse and handed the reins to one of his men. His gang of cutthroats had stopped to rest and to water their animals. One of the bandits quickly built a fire, while another retrieved a brace of rabbits hanging from a saddle and began skinning them. By all appearances they would be loitering for some time in the pleasant meadow. That suited Gillian perfectly. It was easier to kill a man taking a leisurely smoke under a tree than to pick him off the back of a cantering horse.
"I'm aware you don't wish to be here," she said quietly. "I'm very grateful for your company."
"Your dear mother will roast me over the coals if she finds out about this little escapade. As will my wife," he muttered.
One only had to look into Griffin Steele's cool, dark gaze to realize how dangerous he was, but he turned into a puppy dog in the presence of his wife, Justine. With everyone else, a genial wolfhound was a better description for him, but one with a lethal bite.
"They won't have anything on Grandmamma," Gillian said. "You can't imagine what she'd say about this."
Not that it mattered what her mother or grandmother thought. Not when she was so close to achieving the goal she'd pursued these past five long years. And now that Antonio Falcone was in her sights, Gillian would allow nothing to stop her from exacting justice.
Griffin shifted, as if trying to get comfortable on the unforgiving rock surface beneath them. "Actually, I've heard quite a lot on the subject from Lady Marbury. She's extremely concerned about your impetuous behavior."
Gillian twisted to look at him, narrowing her gaze on his tanned, clever face. His eyes were shadowed under the brim of his slouched hat, and his features were devoid of expression. The long black hair clubbed back over his shoulders and the thin scar running down the side of his face made him look more like the bandits below than a wealthy, educated man who had royal blood running through his veins.
"They want you to get me in hand, don't they?" she asked. "I assure you, it's pointless."
"So I told Lady Marbury. She found my reply less than satisfactory, I'm sorry to say."
"If you don't approve of what I'm doing, then why are you here? This isn't your fight. And it's not like I don't have help."
He snorted. "An old man and a boy."
"Stefano taught me everything I know, and his grandson is coming along quite nicely."
Griffin glanced over his shoulder to a rocky alcove where the man and the boy held the horses. "Stefano looks to be at least eighty, and his grandson is barely big enough to mount a horse."
Gillian switched her attention back to the bandits. "So that's why you came with me today. You promised my family you'd protect me. It's entirely unnecessary, I assure you." She had been patiently working toward this moment for years. If she didn't have the strength, the skill, and the brains to take down Falcone now, she didn't deserve another moment's peace.
I won't fail you, dear Step-papa.
"I told Lady Marbury that you're more than capable of defending yourself," he said. "I just thought I'd come along and lend a hand."
She was so grateful that Griffin never talked to her as if she were some silly miss. Or worse, treated her like a lunatic for seeking vengeance for her stepfather's brutal murder. She was fine with not being like other girls, but it wasn't always easy to be an outsider, living half in the shadows with her name — her very existence — marked by scandal. The fact that her half brother and his wife had come to Sicily to seek her out warmed Gillian down to her toes.
They studied the men below in the meadow. Dappled sunlight fell along the banks of the nearby stream, and the trees partly obscured a clear shot. The best firing position would be down and to the right, on a rutted path that ran along the cliffs.
Gillian had received word only a few hours ago from a local villager that Falcone was on the move. She'd had to scramble, but fortunately it had been early enough that no one had seen her race to the stables of her grandmother's villa — no one except Griffin. She'd been stunned when, instead of trying to stop her, he'd simply rolled his eyes and saddled another horse.
"You don't need to do this, you know," Griffin murmured. "I can take care of it for you."
She peered at him, squinting in the strong morning sunlight. From the look on his face, he was entirely serious. That unfamiliar sense of gratitude once more curled its warmth around her heart.
"No one's ever offered to do that before," she said softly.
He flashed a grin. "Most people aren't in the habit of offering to shoot people for young ladies."
"Except for you, of course."
"You wouldn't be the first."
For a fleeting moment she was tempted to let him kill Falcone for her. After all, it wasn't as if she relished killing. The first time she'd taken down one of the bandit's men, she'd barely escaped before having to drop to her knees and retch up the contents of her stomach. The second and third time, the same thing had happened. It might even be the same with Falcone himself, despite the fact that he'd been the one to put the pistol to her stepfather's head and pull the trigger. Seeking justice — or vengeance, some would call it — did tend to wear on one's soul. More than once, she'd almost given the whole thing up. But for too long Falcone and his men had been allowed to roam free, committing murder and mayhem. Gillian would hold fast to her purpose, and to the vow she'd made to her stepfather the day they'd entombed him in cold marble.
"I'm touched, Griffin, but I need to see this through."
He blew out a frustrated breath. "You do realize the bastard's death will never truly bring you peace."
"I don't seek peace; I seek justice."
"Revenge, more like it. The authorities in Palermo should handle this."
A derisive snort was her only reply. Her grandmother, the Countess of Marbury, had spent years seeking justice from the authorities. They weren't interested, and neither was her stepfather's heir, the current Count Paterini. As long as Falcone continued to fill their coffers with bribes, the authorities and the local noblemen were content to let the bandit lord wreak havoc on the Sicilian countryside.
Griffin studied her. "You needn't soil your hands with their blood, my dear girl."
"They're soiled already, Griffin."
He shot her a puzzled look before understanding dawned. "Good God. How many men have you killed over this?" He sounded thunderstruck.
"A few," she hedged.
"Oh, is that all?"
"They deserved it."
The bandit scum had killed Step-papa, his two bodyguards, and the young groom accompanying him on that fateful trip through the Gorges of Tiberio. It was fitting that Gillian would deliver justice in almost the same spot where those innocents had breathed out their last moments of existence.
Her brother cursed under his breath. "Gillian, this should not be your life."
"Do I look like a proper young lady to you?"
He cast a sardonic glance at her attire — sheepskin coat, buckskin breeches, and riding boots. "You could be. You're an attractive, respectable-looking girl when you're not disguised as a bloodthirsty ruffian."
"I thought you, of all people, would understand," she said, exasperated.
"I do, but if you continue along this course, it will take its toll. Killing always does."
She managed not to flinch. "I don't have a choice."
"There is always a choice, Gillian."
She flicked her gaze back to Falcone, who was sitting on a rock as he smoked a pipe. He was also splendidly out in the open, but she had to get closer.
"There's no point in discussing this. I'm doing it," she said.
"No, I will —"
"It was my fault," she hissed. "That's why I have to do it. No one else."
He frowned. "I don't understand."
She had to swallow before she could answer. "It's my fault that my stepfather was murdered. I sent him straight into Falcone's line of fire."
"So ... it's guilt that motivates you. Killing Falcone will likely be nothing more than an empty victory, if such is the case." Griffin squeezed her arm. "As long as you continue to blame yourself, you will never find peace."
She hoped to God he was wrong. He had to be wrong. "You are the most irritating man I have ever met."
"So my wife informs me on a regular basis."
Below them, Falcone knocked the tobacco out of his pipe and then hauled his formidable bulk to his feet. Gillian mentally cursed as he began to stroll over to join his men under the trees.
She turned and signaled to Stefano and his grandson. The old man pulled his pistol from the brace on his saddle, ready to cover her back.
"Griffin, help me or not, but I'm doing this now." Before he could answer, she slung her rifle across her back and slithered away from the edge. As quickly as she dared, she crawled down the narrow, rutted path that ran along the rim of the gorge. If she stood, it was unlikely the men below would notice her, but she was taking no chances. Falcone had evaded her too many times over the years.
Her brother followed her. She could practically feel him seething with frustration, but he made not a sound. She had to give him credit — he was awfully good.
A few feet short of her goal, Gillian held up a hand to halt her brother's advance. She stole a quick glance over her shoulder. Just behind them Stefano crouched, his tanned, leathery features cast into shade by his broad-brimmed hat. Griffin's expression registered shock at the sight of the old man so close, pistols at the ready. Stefano might be getting on in years, but he was still vital and strong. He could move like a ghost, silent and lethal, at her command.
After crooking a finger to signal Griffin to follow, Gillian wriggled up to the edge of the cliff. She cautiously peered over the rocks and saw the bandits under a stand of beech trees, their attention on their flasks of wine as they waited for the rabbits to cook over the open flame. Unfortunately, Falcone was half obscured by one of his men and was partly in shade. She would have to stand up if she wanted a clear shot.
She came up in a crouch and pulled the rifle from her back. She'd already checked it three times, but did so once more. The Baker was a fine weapon. It had belonged to a Hussar, and had a light, short carbine, which made it easier to handle. But it was less accurate than rifles used by sharpshooters. Although she could reload quickly if she missed her shot, she'd make an inviting target while she did.
So get it right the first time.
Griffin came up beside her. He gave her a terse nod as he brought his rifle to bear on the men below. But he then sucked in a harsh breath when Gillian rose swiftly to her feet, taking aim at Falcone.
As bad luck would have it, an eagle soared right overhead, screeching out a cry. The men below automatically glanced up, directly at her and Griffin.
Gillian fired. The shot echoed through the gorge in a deafening report. Another boom followed as Griffin fired a second later. Falcone stumbled against a low rock, roaring as he clutched his shoulder. Another bandit went down like a sack of grain tossed from a cart.
The other bandits scrambled for their weapons.
"Get down, you daft woman," Griffin barked, reaching to pull her away from the edge.
Gillian evaded his grasp, sliding on the rocky scree and almost losing her footing. Still, she managed to recover and reload. Griffin did the same as he let loose a string of hair-raising curses. She yanked up her rifle, took aim, and fired again.
A moment later, a bullet slammed into her shoulder, throwing her to the ground. The back of her head connected with rock, and pain exploded through her skull. Gillian lay there stunned, staring up at a sky that shimmered with a milky haze. Her ears rang with the sound of a thousand church bells.
Move, you idiot.
She couldn't — not even one blessed finger.
Griffin's face suddenly swam above her, only slightly less hazy than the sky. Gillian forced the words out past the pain. "Did I get him?" she whispered.
"For Christ's sake, not now," Griffin spat.
He pressed something into her shoulder, so hard that bile rose in her throat and black dots swam across her vision. She forced back the encroaching darkness.
"Is Falcone dead?" she ground out.
Griffin glanced over his shoulder and barked something to Stefano. Then he turned back to her.
"Yes," he said.
Relief swamped her, momentarily driving out the fire consuming her body.
"We did it, Griffin." If she had to die in the effort, thank God she'd been successful.
"Indeed." Griffin yanked something tight around her shoulder and upper arm. She had to bite back a shriek. "But trust me, dear sister, your killing days are over."
When he lifted her onto his shoulder, the blackness rushed in, pulling her away from the heat, the light, and the pain.
From everything.CHAPTER 2
Charles Valentine Penley, Sixth Duke of Leverton, hastily stepped off the curb and into the street, narrowly avoiding collision with three little boys barreling down the pavement on their way home from the park. As much as he could appreciate their high spirits, they were covered in mud, and one generally didn't make social calls looking as if one had been rolling around in the stables.
"Slow down, you little hellions," Kates yelled from the seat of the curricle. "You almost knocked His Grace flat on his arse." Kates, an excellent groom, occasionally forgot himself as his rather disreputable origins in the London stews bubbled to the surface.
"No need to shout," Charles said.
"They might have spooked the horses. And you all but scared the wits out of the poor things, jumpin' off the curb like that," Kates added in an accusatory tone. In his world, nothing was worse than ruffling the high-strung nerves of the animals under his care.
"How dreadful of me," Charles said. "Do you think I should apologize to them?"
When Kates was upset, his resemblance to a sad-eyed basset hound verged on the remarkable. "Now, no need to make a jest out of it, Yer Grace. You know this pair hates goin' out in all this wind. It's well-nigh a gale, I tell you."
As if to underscore the point, a stiff breeze swirled down Brook Street, kicking up both dust and the skirts of the three nursemaids hurrying after their ill-behaved charges. Two were young and pretty and smiled flirtatiously as they passed, murmuring apologies for any inconvenience the boys might have caused.
Charles gave them a polite smile before turning back to Kates. "Very well, you may return to Grosvenor Square now. I'm not sure how long I'll be staying, and God forbid I should keep the horses out in a hurricane."
It was merely a blustery day, an unseasonably cool one in an unseasonably cool spring. Still, it felt good to be outside. Only recently returned from his estate in Lincolnshire, Charles had spent the last several days buried up to his eyeballs in paperwork in his parliamentary offices. He already missed the long rides, the crisp, clean air, and the quieter, more ordered way of life in the country.
Excerpted from My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly. Copyright © 2016 Vanessa Kelly. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved and enjoyed reading the fabulous and fantastic historical romance by the wonderfully talented Vanessa Kelly. I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review. Charles Valentine Penley, Duke of Leverton, is suppose to get Gillian Dryan, the illegitimate daughter of a prince, ready to make her debut as a debutante. Leverton, Perfect Penley, finds himself thrown off balance, intrigued, and attracted to Gillian. Gillian tries hard not to fall for handsome Leverton that she keeps letting down by her unladylike ways. Read the beautifully written, highly recommended love story of two opposites destined for each other.
What happens when a Duke and peer of the realm, known for his rigid adherence to social norms, aversion to scandal and a serious fire poker up his butt is tasked with reforming the infamous illegitimate daughter of one of the royals? Fun. Pure, unadulterated fun with scintillating dialogue, great characters and a seriously long overdue poker-ectomy. I flew through this story in one sitting, the premise of a Pygmalion-like transformation of a young woman who is rarely swayed by other people’s opinions or conventional thinking. Gillian is a spectacularly unique character – driven by a strong sense of judgment, a fierce temper and a dash of impulsivity. She’s smart and kind, loyal and completely unconcerned and uninterested in her place in English society. Griffin is solidly aware of his responsibilities and completely averse to scandal. Willing, however, to use his social capital and his reputation to help Gillian succeed and find an appropriate husband now that she’s returned to England from Sicily. His own impressions of Gillian aren’t as dismissive or downgrading: he’s intrigued by her intelligence, her wit and humor, and she is certainly a challenge to his temper. Fortunately for Griffin, Gillian is JUST what he needs to bring amusement into his life, and his sister is completely intrigued with her brother’s first emotional reactions to a woman in years. Gillian tests every fibre of Griffin’s being, in all the best ways. She’s completely unfettered by typical social conventions, desperate to shield her mother from societal censure, and completely uninterested in all things English. She is, however, wonderfully kind, inquisitive and caring – not wishing to make her mother’s life, or anyone else’s life difficult. She just wants to go home to Sicily. Griffin, although he believes he is to set Gillian on the correct path to an advantageous marriage, is finding that he’s wanting more. And the path to the eventual ending is wonderfully paved with intrigue, moments of tension, honesty and plenty of heart. A wonderful read that has jumped into my favorites, with Gillian and Griffin moving to the top of my faves from Vanessa Kelly. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
A bit far fetched but entertaining with a happily ever after ending
good escape time read
Not great. Dragged on longer than it needed to. Plot was good but female character was super irritating.
Cute funny and an enjoyable read
I really enjoyed Gillian and Charles' story! Gillian is probably one of my favorite types of heroines. She was definitely not your typical debutant and she certainly gave Charles a run for his money. Charles was a bit stiff in the beginning but after hanging out with Gillian, he became a much more enjoyable character! This is a wonderful start to Kelly's new series! I'm excited to read the next book in the series!
Heroine is TSTL.
This romance was a lot longer than I expected. Not even in length so much as it felt like it was taking forever to get through. Bandit-hunting rebel Gillian Dryden gets dragged to London after a life in Sicily and put under the watch of the Duke of Leverton who's supposed to teach her how to be a proper English woman. Can you see how this is going to go? I think My Fair Princess started alright. Gillian has an... unfavorable heritage so she's already prone to gossip but she stays strong throughout it all and her tendency to stir up trouble and make a scene. Compared to the composed Leverton who is this paragon of all things proper. They're very extreme characters and for a good bit of the book, Leverton treats Gillian as a student and more like a child. And then out of nowhere decides to give in to his attraction toward her and it everything goes downhill from there. On their own, I liked both characters. Gillian is fierce and strong-willed. A bit cliche in the rebellious act, and she could be quite childish at times, but I grew used to it. In contrast, Leverton was more reserved and very patient with her and the trouble she got herself in. But I didn't like them together. Maybe it was just me but I didn't feel any chemistry between them. Then there's the story itself. Much of the plot centers around Leverton's attempts to "tame" Gillian while she continues to make a spectacle of herself, and then they finally must leave London to avoid causing more rumors. Of course, away from prying eyes, the two start up their romance but it felt awkward and a bit forced. And the whole bandits subplot was weird. At the very beginning of the book you meet Gillian while she's hunting bandits. Which, alright, for the story it's who she is but was a bit odd. That she continues that later on after all the build-up of her making progress in her "schooling" seemed like it was more for the sake of the plot than anything. Her whole world is consumed by bandits, whether they're the ones who killed her stepfather or not. The thing is, I actually liked that she was this take-charge person, that she went out to track bandits and challenged what women could do in this time period. But the way it came across didn't work as well as the idea, for me. For a series starter, I was a bit disappointed, but there are a lot of secondary characters that show promise for future books and I do hope they come up again instead of a whole new cast as I always enjoy seeing those little cross-overs. But I do think I'll try out more of Kelly's books as the writing was good, just wasn't a fan of the story for this one.
Gillian was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland. .Gillian’s brother Griffin was devoted to her. Gillian had grown up in Italy where she lived freely.Gillian loved her stepfather deeply. Gillian hunts and kills the bandits one by one until she gets hurt, who killed her stepfather. Gillian’s grandmother turns to the Duke of Leverton- Charles to reform and mold Gillian into a young English lady. At first Charles and Gillian hate each other. In Italy Gillian wore pants and shot a gun and carried a pistol and a knife. Gillian’s grandfather had held Gillian being illegitimate against her. And didn’t treat her right. Charles was a stickler about having no scandal and doing the right thing. In the beginning Charles acted like Gillian was a child. Gillian was fiercely strong and had a strong sense of justice. Gillian’s grandmother wants her to find a suitable husband. Charles tries to teach Gillian society manners but she isn’t interested. But then Charles is attracted to Gillian and starts having feelings for her. Gillian is also attracted to Charles and has feelings for him. Gillian struggles not to lose her temper with Charles as he struggles with how to deal with her. I liked this story a lot. I loved how Gillian was determined to get justice for her stepfather. I also loved the struggles between Charles and Gillian. I hated her grandfather making her pay for something she had no control over. I was glad Charles and Gillian got over their negative feelings for each other and they changed. This had a good plot.This also made me laugh which is always good. A Fun read. I loved the characters and the ins and outs and I recommend.
I had the most fun with this one. This was the way to start a new series. Willful, strong, independent, capable, sassy, witty, and a princess. Gun toting, knife wielding, bandit hunting, feisty little sister Gillian was a bit more than the Duke of Leverton was expecting. Gillian grandmother needed help with getting her granddaughter caught up to what she should have already known. Immediate dislike between the two was clear. A perfect match for each other was even clearer. The instata love and hop right in to bed was not this one. Thank you. Gillian carries this story all the way to the end. Not to discount Charles’ presences. She was everything a heroine should aspire to be. She was a peoples princess. She could ride with the best of them. She could shoot, fight, hunt. She was all that a free woman of strength, courage, beauty, lineage could be. Charles found all her quality appealing to him but not suitable for the ton. She need work and polish. She was going to make none of it easy. She was who she was because of what she was. Confusing but true. If she would have been raise in the home of her father she would not have been the heroine that I love. She gave it all and then some. She didn’t back down. She stood her ground. Charles has rarely found any one that could change his take on the world. Gillian made that change in small increments but she proved that she was more than just a female in breeches. V. Kelly brought me a heroine that will be held on to and revisited just for who she was and the strength of character she displayed. Recommending My Fair Princess has topped my historical romance reading this summer. Recommending reading the connecting series (The Renegade Royals) will just make it that much better.
Lots of banter between the leads. Excellent story.
My Fair Princess is the first book in the Improper Princesses series by Vanessa Kelly. Gillian's "I can do anything and kick butt while I'm at it" attitude was perfect. Charles was her opposite, although not as perfect as everyone liked to think. Their bantering was infectious. The plot was smooth and kept me reeled in with its humor as well as adventure. I definitely want to read the next book in this series. The ARC of My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly was kindly provided to me by the publisher for review. The opinions are my own.
4.5 stars!! a new series by Vanessa Kelly! Gillian Dryden set out for revenge. After tracking her prey to at last be looking down through the barrel of a rifle the intended victim in her sights it was now or never. The only thing she was grateful for as it appeared her mission would finally be over was to have the support of the most notorious man in London by her side. How fortunate for her to be the half-sister of a man like him. One could call her a princess as royal blood ran through her veins as did her brother. As Griffin Steele also aimed his rifle at the group gathered in the gorge below them he contemplated the whether his half-sister was up too the task at hand. As shots rang out time would soon tell. As he saw his sister flinch all thoughts scattered except for what he was going to tell Gillian's grandmother!
Gillian Dryden, is the illegitimate daughter of a prince, who raised by her mother, stepfather, and grandparents in Italy. Her beloved stepfather is killed by bandits, and she vows revenge. Her mother and grandmother are concerned that she is going to get herself killed and thus decide to return to England. They convince Charles, the Duke of Leverton to take Gillian under his wing and to teach her social graces. Gillian doesn't care for society, and Charles is exasperated but intrigued none the less. In true romantic fashion, a memorable war of words ensues and both Charles and Gillian learn a lot from each other. They of course fall in love, but Gillian's past is a huge to their romantic future. Overall this is a great historical romance that made me sigh in true My Fair Lady fashion. I liked the main characters and was happy how both characters evolved throughout the novel. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
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. Received from author for an honest review
Gillian is in an uncomfortable situation. She is thrown into the London life without the skills to navigate. Her past hurts her chances. Her family believes she can find a husband if she learns to be a proper lady. Charles is a proper gentleman who is asked to teach her. Between his near-perfect patience and her unpredictable behavior, they spark against each other and fall in love. I loved the honesty of Gillian despite expectations, and Charles was adorable every time he lost his perfect facade. I could not put down this book and highly recommend it. I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a fun read. You start off with a bit of action where we have a lady (Gillian) seeking revenge for her step-father’s murder. Because of this, she must flee Sicily for her own safety, so the family returns to England, where they had previously fled after scandal. Her mother got pregnant by a royal , so upon their return, they have a lot of things stacking up against Gillian’s reputation. Do you see the problem with trying to come out to the ton? So they ask the most proper man they know to assist with reforming her, Charles the Duke of Leverton. Yes, this is a spin on My Fair Lady. Gillian is charming, despite her scandalous ways. I could understand her motivations and actions. Leverton was one of those guys who was a picture-perfect man of the nobility. He is always careful and cautious, but to see him loosen up a little around Gillian was fun. The couple had a constant witty banter that kept the story light and fun. The action helped move the plot along. I’d recommend this read. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Fair Princess (The Improper Princesses #1) by Vanessa Kelly gives us another great start to a historical trilogy. If you have read Vanessa Kelly, then My Fair Princess is not going to disappoint. I was given Vanessa Kelly’s wonderful historical story. Gillian Dryden is the illegitimate daughter of a prince. She has grown up away from English Society so she lacks the proper manners needed to be husband hunting in the ton. Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, Duke of Leverton is a family friend. He is the perfect man to have taken on Gillian as his protégée. There in lies the many layered problems to be addressed by them both. My Fair Princess is a fun, many twist read. Vanessa Kelly takes us on a merry chase through different levels of English Society with this read. Give it a read, I enjoyed it. and look forward to the other two Improper Princesses. Thanks Vanessa Kelly& Good Writing
I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. Vanessa Kelly continues to amaze and delight with her creation of characters. My Fair Princess is the first in The Improper Princesses series. Gillian Dryden is the natural daughter of one of the royal dukes. She grew up in Sicily with her mother, grandmother and stepfather. After her stepfather's murder, Gillian exacts revenge on those responsible. When she is shot, her family decides it is time to return to England. Her grandmother enlists the help of the Charles Penley, the Duke of Leverton, better known as Perfect Penley. As Charles tries to help Gillian to become a proper lady, several incidents occur. Charles and Gillian are constantly butting heads but the animosity between them changes and they find that they are falling in love. This is a great story filled with a range of emotions that will keep you engrossed to the very end.
Gillian was allowed to run wild when she lived in Italy. After her step father was murdered by bandits, she seeks revenge by killing the bandits responsible for her step father's death. Now she is in England to find herself a proper husband. Charles is asked to help her learn how to navigate society. Charles is very proper and is even called Perfect Penley by some because he is always in control and very correct in everything. Until Gillian. Gillian has turned his world upside down.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for an honest review. The book starts out with Gillian hunting and killing bandits in Italy, then moving to England, for unfortunately more of the same. Her grandmother "employs" a duke, Charles, to help Gillian navigate her way in society. As it turns out, Charles is the one to be changed by Gillian, who helps him loosen up. This is a Pygmalion story, with an opposites attract theme and some intrigue. Loved it!
4.75* After years of being exiled from England because of being born on the wrong side of the blanket Gillian Dryden is now back. Her family is desperate to have her excepted into the Ton, so they ask a distant cousin for help, Charles Valentine Penley, Sixth Duke of Leverton also known as "Perfect Penley". Charles can't see how he could possibly help but he can't say no to his aunt Lucy and once he meets Gillian he sees the little hoyden as a lost cause but he's honor bond to help. Gillian is strong willed and outspoken at best. She had to be strong and shield herself for years from others she can't see why want her to fit in because she doesn't give a fig if she does. At least that's what she says. The really fun starts as these two continue to bump heads on what's proper and what's not. The banter between Charles and Gillian is hilarious and touching and at times heartbreaking. Gillian turns his well ordered and perfect world upside down. She knows what's said about her and knows she's not worthy of Charles or anyone else. I loved the suspense and how it wasn't what I thought it would be. The romance and sexual tension was so good and hot these two wounded souls deserved their HEA!