My Fair Princess: The Improper Princesses #1 by Vanessa Kelly

My Fair Princess: The Improper Princesses #1 by Vanessa Kelly

I read and adored Vanessa Kelly’s Renegade Royals series with the focus on illegitimate sons of the upper levels in British Society. Now the Improper Princesses have arrived,  and the tonne is passing judgment on the blow-by daughters of the men of the realm.  Please read on for my review and excerpt, check out the tour stops to see what other readers thought, and be sure to enter the tour-wide giveaway where you could be a Grand Prize winner that gets a $25 Amazon gift card; and four runners up to receive a copy of CONFESSIONS OF A ROYAL BRIDEGROOM and HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER.

My Fair Princess

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 pokerectomy.

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.

Charles 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 Charles, 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 Charles’  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. Charles, 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 Charles moving to the top of my faves from Vanessa Kelly.

My Fair Princess: The Improper Princesses #1 by Vanessa Kelly

Title: My Fair Princess
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Series: The Improper Princesses #1
Also in this series: Three Weeks with a Princess
Genre: Family Saga, Historical Romance, Regency
Published by: Zebra
ISBN: 1420141104
Published on: 30 August, 2016
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 352
Audio Length: 10 Hours (approx)
Rated: five-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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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?

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.


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“Well, the girl needs someone to look out for her,” Griffin said. “She’s too bloody reckless. It’s only a matter of time before she triggers a full-blown scandal that will sink her reputation for good.”

“Charles, if you don’t come to our aid, I don’t know what we’ll do,” Aunt Lucy said, sounding rather desperate.

He wanted to say no, but . . .

A Penley always does the right thing.

His father’s voice echoed in his head. Charles felt sure, however, that the old man had not envisioned this particular situation. Still, Aunt Lucy and even the mysterious Gillian were family.

“Perhaps you’d better tell me everything,” he said.

As Aunt Lucy talked, Charles experienced a growing consternation. To say that Miss Dryden was a catalogue of social disasters was a massive understatement. In addition to threatening the dancing master, she’d gone riding by herself in Green Park, strolled past White’s in the middle of the afternoon—again, by herself—and inadvertently insulted an ancient and very distinguished marquess at the one small party her family had dared take her to.

Apparently, that was just the beginning.

“For God’s sake, Aunt Lucy,” he broke in, “even I cannot groom a savage. What were you thinking to bring her here in the first place?”

Steele leaned forward, his gaze turning flat and cold. “Careful, Your Grace, or you’re likely to end up with my blade between your ribs.”

“Oh, please,” Charles said in a dismissive voice.

“I brought her to England to save her life,” Aunt Lucy said. “She may not be up to your exacting standards, Charles, but I could not let her die at the hands of ruthless brigands. That would surely have been her fate if we’d stayed in Sicily.”

“Ah, yes,” he said. “About those bandits. Why the devil—”

His aunt shook her head and came to her feet. Charles and Steele quickly rose in response.

“Forgive me for wasting your time, Your Grace,” she said with a resigned dignity. “I see now it was too much to ask of you. I only ask that you keep these matters private for Gillian’s sake.”

Mentally sighing, Charles took her hand. “No, Aunt, it is I who must ask your forgiveness. My manners indeed went begging, and I am sorry for it. Let us just say that I was surprised into forgetting myself.”

She eyed him, looking doubtful, troubled, and weary.

“But there’s one thing I still don’t understand,” he said. “Why is Miss Dryden so resistant to learning conventional behavior?”

His aunt shrugged. “She seems to equate conforming to acceptable standards with training a monkey to perform tricks. Pointless was how she described it.”

“There is nothing pointless about civilized behavior,” Charles said. “Or in treating our fellow creatures with appropriate dignity.”

God, that sounded priggish even for him. Steele’s derisive snort signaled he thought so too.

“I’ve told her that a thousand times,” Aunt Lucy said. “But only her stepfather could get her to see reason, I’m sorry to say. Gillian had a great regard for him, both as her adopted parent and as patriarch of the family.”

“How boringly traditional of her,” Griffin commented.

“Well, she was raised in Sicily,” Aunt Lucy replied. “They’re sticklers for that sort of thing. Which is another reason why I thought of you, Charles. You are indisputably the head of our family, as well as a duke. I’m hoping the combination will generate at least a modicum of compliance on Gillian’s part.”

As Charles looked into his aunt’s pleading gaze, he found it impossible to say no. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to meet her. See if she would be amenable to taking some, ah, guidance from me.”

“Good luck with that,” Steele said in a sardonic tone.

Aunt Lucy flashed Charles a relieved smile. “She’s really a very nice girl, despite her rough edges. I’m sure you’ll like her.”

Charles kept his considerable doubts to himself.

“Griffin, will you ring for the footman?” Aunt Lucy asked. “He can fetch Gillian.”

“I know exactly where she is,” Griffin said, striding to the door. When he pulled it open, a woman tumbled into the room, landing on her knees.

“Confound it,” she muttered. She hopped to her feet in a swift, contained movement and flicked the skirts of her gown back in place over her slim figure. She gazed directly at Charles with big, sherry-colored eyes, apparently not the least bit embarrassed by her outrageous entrance.

“So, you’re the one who’s going to tame the savage,” she said in a crisp voice that carried the hint of an exotic accent. “What fun for both of us.”



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About Vanessa Kelly

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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