Review – The Mistress of Pennington’s: Can a Woman Succeed in a Man’s World? by Rachel Brimble

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1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

My View

As soon as I first heard about this book I have been eager to read it, it is an era that I am hugely interested in and I felt so honored when Rachel Brimble gave me the chance to review it for her. This excelled my expectations of it ‘The Mistress of Penningtons’ is incredibly good! This is the first book I have read by Ms Brimble and as such I came into this book with completely fresh eyes, it is a wonderful introduction into her work, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.

Set during Edwardian era at a time where the world is moving forward, women are finding their voices, and nothing is going to get in their way to get what they want, what they deserve, fighting for their rights. Pennington’s is stuck in the past the likes of Selfridges are leaving all other stores behind and Elizabeth Pennington can see it happening. She wants to take their families business into the future, she has so many idea’s and visions of how to take Pennington’s Department store forward. She just has to convince her old-fashioned father; Edward that just because she is a woman and not the son he wanted, she can do the job as good, or even better than any man.

Elizabeth really resonated with me, I understood her passion, her belief in women’s abilities to do whatever they want to. She knows women can do everything a man can, she hates how women are treated and she knows that it is only a matter of time before they get that vital say. I love how she proposes equal pay and proper tea breaks for the workers. She wants to prove that she isn’t just made for being a wife and a walking incubator for a husband’s heir, that she can make Pennington’s into something extraordinary.

My goodness, how I admire this woman, she is brilliant and the way she tries repeatedly to stand up for herself with s much backbone is wonderful. She is an intelligent woman who is passionate about what she believes in, she is hardworking and creative. She has real fire and spirit! You can really see what an incredible woman Elizabeth is by how she stands firm even when her father is crushing her sense of self-worth. Elizabeth has a pretty bad relationship with her father; Edward she craves his approval and attention.

I have never in my life read a book, and within the first few pages hated a character as much as I detested Edward Pennington. Not just in the way he treats his daughter and women in general, but how he disregards and disrespects hardworking and working-class people like Joseph. I found him to be a bigoted, bullying and condescending man. Who, in my opinion those very people he hates, such as Joseph are worth a hundred of that horrible man. True, he does turn a corner within the book and Brimble has done a wonderful job with his development throughout the book.

Hard-working glove maker; Joseph Carter like Elizabeth he wants to forge his way into business, he wants to take his small family run business to great heights he has visions of grandeur and a passion for doing good which is why is decides to take his produce to Pennington’s to be sold.

I so understand Joseph, in a way he is from the same cloth. He is unashamed of his humble roots, his status in society and proud of his place and his people. I love this man, he is wonderful. Smart, super sexy, charismatic, charming and a true gentleman. He has morals, honor and a good chivalric heart. But he is also wounded, he feels guilty about his wife’s death, he thinks he should have stopped what happened to her and since that fateful day, Joseph has been living in darkness. Your heart breaks for him!

Joseph really is a wonderfully caring man, he is decent, hardworking and honest. He wants to finish what his late wife started and help the community, to help those in need. But his darkness in him he longs for vengeance he wants to bring his wife’s killers brought to justice. In one way or another!

I love that moment when they first meet, it’s one of those scenes that would be brilliant in a film. Eyes catching across a crowded department store and each takes a breath, each knowing in that moment that this is the person for them. For a woman who is so free and single minded, who is adamant that she doesn’t need a man in her life, she can’t stop herself but fall under Joseph’s spell. She is instantly drawn to his allure and charming personality, his sure determination, passion and somewhat cocky manner stops her in her track’s.

They both see that they share the same vision, same ambitions, same dogeared determination and soon they join forces to push forward to that ultimate goal, but there they have a manipulative and egotistical Edward Pennington to try and out maneuver. This man will do what ever he can to make sure that his grand and might Pennington’s never land’s in the hands of a mere woman (who should be at home with a husband) and an up-start working class, laborer.

This book is incredibly good, for me this is everything I want from a Historical Romance, its set in an era that has always caught my attention. The history is clear and precise, it is like finding something you have been looking for. The plot is crisp, and it flows seamlessly. You are gripped with the story, the era and its character’s throughout. The character’s themselves are extremely likable and very easy to relate to. It’s just so stylish!

I cannot recommend this enough, for my first foray into Ms Brimble’s work I am very impressed and will defiantly be reading more from her.

A definite must read, if you like watching Mr Selfridge then you will love this book too!

This was a ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Mistress of Pennington’s is to be released on 1st July and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.