I picked up You May Kiss the Bride when the Kindle edition was on sale., and I added the audio as well. This is the first book in Lisa Berne’s Penhallow Dynasty series of Regency-set romance novels.
Gabriel Penhallow is supposed to marry the perfect girl from the right family, a young woman well-versed in the nuances of Proper Society. And he has every intention of proposing to Cecily; he doesn’t know her at all, but his grandmother says that she is the perfect Penhallow bride. But Gabriel finds himself kissing Livia Stuart in the garden, and when they are discovered, he insists that he will marry Livia.
Livia is less than thrilled with this development. She did not intend to kiss Gabriel in the garden, and she knows very little of the world of the aristocracy. She lives with her aunt and uncle because she is an orphan, and very little has been provided to her, but it remains to be seen whether this is due to deliberate negligence or genteel poverty.
Gabriel intends to marry Livia and then dump her at his country estate and then go about with his wife. But as he spends time with her in Bath, he discovers that there is more to Livia than he realized.
Livia never imagined she could be happy with someone like Gabriel Penhallow, and he even grows to love Gabriel’s formidable grandmother. But is there enough between the two of them to form a genuine and long-lasting love?
This is a stunning debut. I felt immersed in the world of the Regency; it’s clear that Berne did her research with this book. Her characters are lively and fleshed out. I like that Livia and Gabriel’s relationship bloomed slowly; this was definitely not a case of instant love and it was riveting to watch their connection evolve as they got to know each other. I think the conflicts that developed were very organic, and although at least one of them could have been resolved with a simple conversation, they still felt genuine rather than manufactured.
I would absolutely recommend You May Kiss the Bride. This book is full of surprises, and although there are very somber moments, the overall tone is relatively light. I am certainly looking forward to the next book in the series. I also hope that Gabriel’s cousin Hugo gets his own book- he was the perfect foil for some of the somber moments. I can’t wait for the next Penhallow book!