Monday, October 15, 2018

Review - - Malcolm & Isabel (Pennyroyal Today)


Malcolm & Isabel (Pennyroyal Today)
by Julie Anne Long
Self-Published 
Release Date: October 15, 2018
Reviewed by PJ





In Pennyroyal Green, the past is very much alive...but the present has a power—and a magic—all its own.

Isabel Redmond never anticipated that the echoes of a legendary love will reverberate through her own life. Or that answers she's long sought might be between the pages of Olivia Eversea's diary.

Until she goes in search of her roots...and meets her tall, dark destiny under a famous pair of entwined trees.

One look into Isabel's heart-stopping blue eyes and town doctor Malcolm Coburn knows 1) getting involved will be risky; and 2) their chemistry will be scorching. But as they retrace Olivia and Lyon's footsteps in Pennyroyal Green, a tender, fiery intimacy emerges...and old wounds are laid bare. Will two people who guard their hearts as fiercely as their freedom repeat the mistakes of a pair of long-ago lovers...or will they let love alter the course of their lives?


My thoughts:

Three years ago, Julie Anne Long brought her Pennyroyal Green historical romance series to an end with the long-awaited story of Olivia Eversea and Lyon Redmond in The Legend of Lyon Redmond, my favorite book of 2015 (read my Top Dish review). Turning that final page in their story was bittersweet as, with it, came a final farewell to the families I had come to know over the course of several books...or so I thought. When I began reading the (extended-length) epilogue, I realized Ms. Long had a surprise up her sleeve: an American woman, descended from Lyon and Olivia, on a three-month holiday in present-day Pennyroyal Green. What would she discover while exploring her newly-revealed family roots? Would a happy ending of her own be in the forecast or would she return to America with a broken heart? All the answers are revealed in Long's newly released novella: Malcolm & Isabel: Pennyroyal Today. For those readers who have not read The Legend of Lyon Redmond, you should know that Malcolm & Isabel begins exactly where Isabel and Malcolm's journey ended in the epilogue. I strongly encourage readers to begin with the epilogue then pick up the story to it's conclusion in the novella. 

This story pushed every single one of my happy buttons. At 145 pages (not including the previous epilogue), it's longer than most novellas but short enough to be an easy one-day read, though, if you're like me, you'll want to take your time and savor each perfectly placed word. Julie Anne Long is brilliant at evoking emotion while bringing stories and characters to vivid life through the imagery created by her beautiful mastery of words. For example, there's this passage from early on in Malcolm and Isabel's relationship:

He'd forgotten what this kind of newness was like. Thrilling, yes. But it wasn't entirely comfortable. Maybe this was how the earth feels when spring comes upon it. A little raw and uncertain. Buds pushing up and roots reaching down are bound to hurt a little. 

Or this one...

They lay in silence for a time. If he'd been asked to define "peace," he might have said, "lying in the dark next to Isabel Redmond."

Or one more...

The air against her skin simply felt different when he was near. 

Did I mention how romantic this story is? It touched me in all the right ways, with laughter, tears, and Long's beautiful, breath-stealing language. I enjoyed the snippets of Olivia and Lyon's life after marriage that readers are treated to through the pages of Olivia's diary. While this is most definitely Isabel and Malcolm's story (and oh, how I loved these two), the interwoven glimpses of Olivia and Lyon brought an additional layer of pleasure to this longtime fan. And speaking of pleasure, let's hear it for Sir Clive Dunkirk, the crusty, aging rock star, and apparent distant relative of Isabel's, who steals every single scene he's in. By the end of the story, I wanted to download every song his band had recorded. I also wanted to stock my jewelry box with Isabel's uniquely crafted earring designs. It's a good thing both the band and the earrings are fictional or Julie Anne Long and her exquisitely detailed descriptions would be a huge drain on my bank account! 

When I first read the epilogue in The Legend of Lyon Redmond, I immediately wrote to the author, begging for Isabel and Malcolm's story. When I finished this novella, I did the same. But, this time, I begged for more contemporary Pennyroyal Green tales. Long has populated this sleepy little town with a plethora of intriguing characters: from doctors, to pub owners, to charming, rapscallion musicians and self-aware actresses, to dishy vicars, to self-important aristocracy, and more. Some are descended from familiar historical Pennyroyal Green characters, others not, but all are deserving of happy endings of their own and I'm hopeful Ms. Long will agree.  


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Do you enjoy revisiting beloved characters after their HEA?

Isabel inherited Olivia's diary and Lyon's timepiece and cherished both. Which of your possessions would you like a future descendant to cherish? 

Malcolm and Isabel each have a tattoo that reveals something important about them. Do you have any tattoos? What would yours say about you? 


Because I loved both of these stories so much, I'm giving a Kindle copy of The Legend of Lyon Redmond and Malcolm & Isabel to one person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, October 16.  

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for such a lovely review. Yes, I love revisiting characters after their HEA. I would like my descendants and future descendants to cherish all of my family photo albums and diaries that I used to keep years ago. I don't have any tattoos. No need to enter me into the contest as I don't read e-books.

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    1. I'm the keeper of my family's photo albums as well.

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  2. I do love revisiting a couple after the HEA.

    I have my grandma's wedding ring and hope it will be passed on to one of my kids.

    I'm tat-free.

    denise

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  3. Great review! I love her contemporary novels and I'm looking forward to reading this. I hope my kids/grandkids want our wedding rings. We passed my mother's wedding ring down to our daughter and she had a matching one made for her husband. It's such a sweet tribute to my mom, who never got a chance to see her grandkids grow up.

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    1. It's a lovely connection between the generations, Nikki.

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  4. I love HEA
    I have items that are my grandmother's and great-grandmother's
    No tats for me

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    1. We seem to be a tattoo-free zone here. ;-)

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  5. I always enjoy reading more snippets of a HEA. I liked the Pennyroyal Green series, so it will be nice to get a few more glimpses of Olivia & Lyon. I don't care for tattoos, so I don't have any.

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    1. It was fun to catch a glimpse of their post-HEA life through Olivia's diary entries.

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  6. I do like seeing the 'extended version' of a HEA. The things I can think of off the top of my head that I want my kids to have are 2 quilts made by each of my grandmothers; my wedding and engagement rings; all the things my grandparents and mother left me.

    Oh and no tattoos if only because I'm not sure of anything I want on my body for the rest of my life.

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    1. Hand-made quilts are a wonderful item to pass down through the generations.

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  7. It is a great pleasure to see glimpses of beloved characters' lives after the HEA. I am emotionally invested, after all.

    I can't pinpoint specific possessions that I would most want my descendants to cherish. Most likely recipes.

    I don't have any tattoos, would not be able to commit to one. If I had one it would have to indicate to the world that I am mostly serious but with a side of mischief.

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    1. My grandmothers were both wonderful bakers but none of their recipes were saved after they died, a source of great disappointment to me.

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  8. One of the reasons I enjoy series so much is being able to keep in touch with character I "met" in previous books. It is nice to see how their lives are going and to see if it matches up with what you thought might happen.
    I have several things I would hope would be passed down and appreciated. My grandparents gave me a platform cradle that has bee in the family for at least 6 generations going back to the 1800's. I have a lovely pearl necklace that my husband gave to me our first Christmas as husband and wife. I have a pearl ring and earrings that I bought while in the Far East before getting married. They make a lovely set and bring back wonderful memories.
    The only tattoo I have considered is one that depicts the logo for a neurological disease I have been diagnosed with. It is an aqua ribbon with a sea turtle.
    Thank you for the review.

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    1. How fortunate you are to have heirlooms that have been cherished by your family for so many generations.

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  9. A wonderful review. I love reading about characters beyond the HEA.I can't wait to read Malcom & Isabel's story. No tats here.
    Carol Lucia No
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

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    1. I loved it and, as stated in my review, I'm really hoping Long will continue to write stories for Pennyroyal Green today!

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  10. I read your earlier post about this book and it has spurred me to start at the beginning of the series, I'm really looking forward to it!!

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    1. It's a long series, Katie, but there are many wonderful books along the way. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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