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An Affair Downstairs: Thornbrook Park # 2 by Sherri Browning with Excerpt and Giveaway

Welcome to my review with excerpt and giveaway for book 2 in the Thornbrook Park series from Sherri Browning. Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the giveaway where you can win one of 5 copies of Thornbrook Park, book one in the series!

An Affair Downstairs:

The second in the series I have read, I will warn those who are expecting a Downton Abbey like storyline that this is decidedly not that: the comparable elements are the location of the stories in Yorkshire, and a similar time frame of the Edwardian period.  Take a chance on your historic romance that is not ‘influenced’ by other titles, works or authors: it’s how you find gems.

In this book we have a few recurring meetings with characters from book one, but this does stand-alone well, with plenty of moments to make you smile.  While not as laden with tension from the various machinations of the characters on their way to love, nor as straightforward in characterization as I normally seek out, this is a fun read that will entertain even as you may look to whack a couple of characters with a solidly aimed riding crop.

Again the beauty and unique landscape peculiar to Yorkshire is front and center as Browning sets the story with plenty of moments to admire the scenery as the world in which the characters exist is described. And that world very much expects that Alice Emerson will marry.  But, Alice has her own thoughts on the matter, and those approach scandalous.

Alice was interesting: alternating between complete airhead or masterminding manipulator, the overall impression is one of a fairly heedless to consequences young woman with a sharp tongue and determination to get what she wants.  I had moments where I wasn’t able to believe Alice was as stupid as she appeared, and then, she’d almost prove me right. Or wrong. Occurring equally.

Logan is the ‘unsuitable’ man, son of a baron and a bit of a doormat – quite apologetic about both his reduced circumstances and his own limited prospects.  I couldn’t find a ton to like or dislike about him: he’s the Charlie Brown of the cast without the continual self-investigative moments.  And, his seeming inability to say “no” to Alice, or to even work up any strong emotion about her behavior, subtle or ridiculously over the top leaves his moments reliant nearly entirely on how others relate to him.  It was an interesting proposition to take a decidedly beta male as a hero, but not make Alice particularly alpha in their relationship.  They both felt rather clueless about it all – and that worked to their favor, much to my surprise.

Other characters do appear to ‘insert’ themselves into the romance, but I didn’t find that I felt the tension as much as I would have expected.  Lord Ralston is SO over the top in his effusive praise of Alice and her ‘delights’ that it borders on obsequious and desperate: even Alice sees the wrong in his approach. Brought in by Alice’s sister Sophie, a wholly dislikable and bossy character, most certainly responsible for Alice’s inability or unwillingness to make her own carefully considered choices.

Overall, the story was enjoyable, if lacking in some needed tension: either between Logan and Alice in a sexual sense, or from the characters who are sure to mark this match ‘unsuitable’.  And let’s be clear: Logan’s unsuitability is merely his history: he’s done much in this quiet removed life as the Estate Manager.  There was a touch of tension both from the forbidden of their relationship, but I didn’t find this a particularly angsty read – more a slow grower without great tension, most notable for the twists and turns in Alice’s behavior as readers try to puzzle out the great question: spoilt airhead or headstrong calculating genius?

An Affair Downstairs: Thornbrook Park # 2 by Sherri Browning with Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: An Affair Downstairs
Author: Sherri Browning
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published on: 6 January 2015
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 384
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 35 minutes
Rated: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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About the Book:

The attraction of the forbidden cannot be suppressed…

Lady Alice Emerson is entirely unsatisfied with the endless stream of boring suitors her family finds appropriate. She wants something more. Something daring. Something real. Each tiresome new suitor only serves to further inflame Lady Alice’s combustible attraction to Thornbrook Park’s rugged, manly estate manager, Logan Winthrop. Despite Logan’s stubborn attempts to avoid her, Lady Alice is irresistible, and so is the forbidden desire exploding between them…

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, don’t miss the fascinating Edwardian world of Thornbrook Park.

See my Review of Thornbrook Park, book 1 in the series

See the Series on Goodreads  

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

 

“The countess enjoys a bit of matchmaking. Before you came along, she tried to pair me with her maid.”

“Mrs. Jenks?” Alice wrinkled her nose at the idea. Jenks was a mousy slip of a woman, no match for a robust, vigorous man like Winthrop.

“No, the one before her. Mrs. Bowles.”

“Dear, no.” Worse than Jenks, Bowles was a snip-nosed shrew and certainly far too old for Mr. Winthrop. “I’m sorry. Sophia clearly has no talent for making matches.”

“Perhaps not. You were wise to run away instead of sitting through another conversation about yet another bachelor. I don’t blame you a bit.”

“You—you don’t?” Ah, a man of sense. She knew she could rely on his sound judgment, at least. And she appreciated it, though it would make seducing him more of a challenge.

“Any pretty girl in her right mind dreams of a dashing suitor to sweep her away, doesn’t she? Alas, Lady Averford’s only suitable choice for you so far had eyes for another.”

“Captain Thorne.” Alice rolled her eyes. “He’s better off with Eve Kendal. They’re perfectly suited. I didn’t care for him much myself, if you must know.”

“I mustn’t.” He shrugged. “It’s none of my affair.”

Alice bit the inside of her cheek. How she wanted it to be his affair. “There isn’t a suitable choice. I’ll never marry.”

“Don’t despair, Lady Alice. There’s someone out there for you. Your sister simply hasn’t found him yet.”

“It’s not despair.” Defensive, she crossed her arms. “I’ve no interest in marriage. None.”

His eyes narrowed as if he tried to peer inside her soul. “I shouldn’t have said anything. You might like Lord Brumley. I must go.”

“No.” She reached out, eager to stop him, and ended up with her hand on his sleeve, over the thick muscles of his upper arm that she had seen in full daylight, bared to the sun, when he’d removed his coat, undid his collar, and rolled up his sleeves while out raking the early autumn leaves. “Please, tell me about Brumley. You know him?”

His gaze went to her hand and trailed back to her face. “We were at Harrow together. I believe he made Lord Averford’s acquaintance later, at Oxford. He might have changed considerably in so many years.”

“Fourteen years?” She did the math. “If you’re the same age as the earl, then it has been fourteen years since you were at Harrow.”

“In fourteen years, a man can go through remarkable changes in his life.” His full lips drew to a grim line. “In our youth, Brumley was a bit of an oaf. To be fair, I’ve no idea what kind of man he has become.”

“I suppose we’re about to find out. Sophia is probably already making out the invitation. But just in case, our mission should be to see the lemon trees replanted and thriving as soon as possible to send him on his way.” Our mission. She liked the idea of them sharing in something. It was a start.

“Agreed, Lady Alice, on that point. I’m not looking forward to seeing the man any more than you are, I suspect. Perhaps much less.”

 

About Sherri Browning

Sherri Browning Erwin, best known for critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations, also writes paranormal romance and historical romance as Sherri Browning. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in Massachusetts and Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Watch for her return to historical romance with the upcoming Thornbrook Park series.

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