Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly Blog 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?

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Book 1
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“Letitia, I’m the one who should be insulted. You rejected me once, and now you’re propositioning me in the middle of a ballroom. Did you really believe I would fall for your tricks again?”

She struggled to control her temper and made a credible job of it. “Poor Charles, you always were a fool. That, I see, has not changed.”

“Well, now that we’ve exchanged a sufficient number of insults, I think—”

Before he could finish, Jack materialized from behind a nearby pillar. “Excuse the interruption,” he said brusquely, “but I need to borrow Leverton.”

Letitia sneered. “You may have him. He’s quite as rude as you are, Lendale, which I had not thought possible.”

Jack laughed. “Up to the old game again, eh, Letitia?” He looked at Charles. “She tried it on me a few weeks ago, if you can believe it.”

Her pale blue gaze brimmed with hatred. “You are no gentleman.”

“And you are no lady, so we’re even,” Jack said in a cheerful voice.

Charles thought she would choke on the spot. And he thought he would choke on the laugh he decided to swallow. “I suppose I should be annoyed that I was her second choice. Again.”

“Consider yourself lucky,” Jack replied. “But enough of this nonsense, old boy. You need to rejoin your party immediately.”

The vague anxiety that had been lurking around the edges of Charles’s consciousness sprang into sharp definition.

“Dear me,” Letitia said in a catty voice. “There is a commotion on the other side of the dance floor, and I believe I see your protégé, Your Grace. She seems to be engaged in some kind of dispute with my husband and Lord Andover.”

When Charles took a hasty step toward the dance floor, Letitia grasped his arm. “Are you sure you want to do that? You know how much you hate scandal, my dear Charles.”

“Letitia, what did you do?” he asked.

She shrugged her beautiful white shoulders. She’d almost destroyed him years ago, and now she’d apparently decided to do it to Gillian.

“Why?” he demanded.

“Because she decided she wanted you, old son,” Lendale said. “And she clearly thought Miss Dryden was an impediment.”

“I don’t have time for this,” Charles said, disgusted. He stalked away, trying to ignore Letitia’s mocking laugh. He wove his way through the crowd, moving as quickly as he could without knocking anyone over.

“Why the hell weren’t you keeping on eye on Gillian?” Charles snapped when Lendale caught up with him.

“I’d just gone off to get some refreshments, for God’s sake. I’d snagged a footman with a tray of drinks when I saw that Letitia had trapped you in her evil snare.”

“You shouldn’t have left Gillian on her own, Jack.”

“She’s your damn responsibility, not mine. Besides, she was with her grandmother the last time I saw her. How the hell was I supposed to know she would get into an argument with one of the greatest morons in London?”

“You have no idea how many ways that blasted girl can get into trouble,” Charles said. “And speaking of Lady Marbury, where is she?”

“There she is,” Jack said, all but pushing a corpulent earl out of their way. They ignored his protests as they hurried to join her.

“Charles, there you are,” she said in a relieved voice. “I stepped away to the retiring room, and I came back to this. You must make Lord Andover go away before Gillian does something dreadful.”

“I intend to,” he said in a grim voice. Unfortunately, he was still several feet away when he saw Gillian’s lips curve up in a smile that made it clear mayhem was about to occur.

By the time he got clear of a gaggle of excited debutantes, Gillian was practically standing on Andover’s toes, saying something that Charles couldn’t hear over the din of the crowd. A moment later, she delivered an outstanding right hook that caught Andover under the chin.

Since the earl was well-known at Gentleman Jackson’s for having a glass jaw, the effect was both predictable and profound. He toppled like a felled tree, straight into a cluster of bystanders, including a footman carrying a tray of champagne goblets. The poor footman tumbled into a middle-aged matron possessed of a well-padded figure, and both went crashing down to the floor, along with the champagne.

“What a nice, flush hit,” Jack said in an admiring voice.

“Do not tell her that,” Charles growled as he elbowed past a pair of girls who were shrieking and fanning themselves in a dramatic fashion.

Jack shot a sly grin at Charles. “I don’t mean to interfere, old boy, but you might want to drop a word in Miss Dryden’s ear that boxing isn’t usually the done thing in the middle of a ballroom.”

“Thank you for that extremely helpful bit of advice, you idiot,” Charles said in a blighting tone.

Jack simply laughed.

Charles stalked up to Gillian, who stood over Andover, flexing her hand. When she glanced up at him, she let out a sigh. At least he thought she sighed, since it was hard to hear anything in the growing pandemonium.

Gillian clasped her hands at her waist and patiently waited, a picture of serene beauty in the midst of chaos.

“Well, Miss Dryden,” Charles said, “now that you’ve provided the main entertainment for the evening, what have you planned for an encore?”

She flicked a glance around the crowded ballroom that seethed with excitement and gossip. Then she looked back at him and shrugged. “I hadn’t thought that far ahead, Your Grace. I am, however, entirely open to suggestion.”




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆
5 Stars for the beginning portion.
2-3 Stars for the rest.
3.5 Stars in total

Vanessa Kelly is a new-to-me author, and I found the writing style to be fluid, rapid, without any unnecessary detailing or purple prose. The storyline is slightly different than what I usually find within this genre, but eventually devolved.

As a prince's by-blow, Gillian is a bloodthirsty, vengeance-seeking heroine who most definitely isn't a damsel in distress. However, I had to suspend a great deal of belief in order to go with the flow on how a murderer is treated with respect by her peers – peers who knew her to kill bandits. In an era where if a young woman spoke out of turn, if she was no longer innocent she was treated as if she had a disease, I found it unimaginable how Gillian's murderous behavior was just written away as justified. In my opinion, Gillian was no different than the very men she hunted and killed. Her relatives and the duke never seemed to find a 22-year-old woman murdering people to be a questionable activity while they strove to teach her how to curtsy properly.

Gillian was way past learning how to speak about the weather with upper society – Yes, it was the storyline, but...

Gillian's family wishes for her to enter London's polite society, which is a difficult prospect with her behavior and the fact that she was the product of her mother's out-of-wedlock affair. Her mother is treated poorly, even though she had married and is now a widow. Like mother, like daughter. Gillian is treated disrespectfully, as the ton waits for her fall, assuming the daughter of a woman who made a mistake would do the same.

In one regard, I adored Gillian for pointing out the hypocrisy, as no one blames the men in these types of affairs, or finds it gross how men and women alike enjoy gossiping about another's downfall, even if they are innocent. It's the young woman's mark of shame for life, her family's shame, and her children's shame, while the men just go about their business as usual. It's gross, and still generally how it is today, even if the girl was preyed upon.

Gillian doesn't care, but she does. So her family goes to a distant relation to make her a proper young woman. Charles is a stuffy, proper gentleman who wishes to teach Gillian about polite society. Heads butt, banter is made, intensity and connection are felt.

I know it's the storyline, but personally, I wasn't sure why anyone gave a hoot about fitting into the ton. Why? Gillian didn't want to be there, they wanted to use her as an exhibit, so why bother? Go about your life and be happy. (I always wonder how we can fall in love with the characters when every character in the ton in every historical romance is filled with vapid, villainous, or ridiculously insipid characters – ones who usually are later narrators that don't notice the hypocrisy until it's their book)

I enjoyed Gillian, and even though it doesn't sound like it, I found the by-blow princess assassin badass angle highly entertaining, but found her difficult to swallow. At times she was more mature than her age, pretending to allow the gossip to wash right off her back, while secretly feeling shame over her roots. That was the Gillian I respected. But at other times, she was reckless, not caring if she put others in danger, single-minded in an immature way without ramifications or consequences, and I couldn't respect this version of our heroine. I felt as if she had multiple personalities.

Charles was a gentleman, but as his infatuation with Gillian grew, he started to behave in the same fashion as those he felt were beneath him. I mean this in a moral way, not meaningless rules of society.

So I found the characterization to be inconsistent, even if their reactions/actions propelled the storyline.

While I enjoyed the books itself, there were many moments where I had to suspend belief. I found it bizarre after spending the book trying to save Gillian's reputation about her virtue, but no one seemed to care she was a serial killer. We find out she was a fallen woman just the same. So much for learning lessons from her mother, after being treated poorly for her mother's mistakes. That element just didn't make sense. It screams we don't have freewill and will repeat mistakes over and over again because we can't help it – are powerless against it. That women, young women, and girls are too stupid to resist a charmer who is preying upon you. The Gillian characterized wouldn't have fallen to a man's charms, not at 16 when she was at the height of her mother's (and should have been her father's) shameful past. This revelation, which was hinted out along the way, wasn't much of a surprise, even if I felt it out-of-character for Gillian when she always had her guard up and was too busy stalking, hunting, and killing men to fit in a scandalous love affair leading to her ruination.

Recommended to Vanessa Kelly fans.




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.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of My Fair Princess (The Improper Princesses #1) by Vanessa Kelly to read and review for this tour.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting and reviewing MY FAIR PRINCESS today!

    Crystal, Tasty Book Tours

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