Envy by Anna Godbersen
If you haven't read this book yet and don't want to know what happens, stop reading now.
Here is a recap of what's happening with all my favorite characters and my thoughts concerning their stories...
After the death of her husband, Will, Elizabeth finds herself a reluctant participant in her former world. Her mother still hopes that Elizabeth will make a match and save her family who is barely remaining afloat, and pushes her daughter to accept an invitation from her former friend, Penelope, to accompany her and her new husband, Henry, to Florida. While in Florida, Elizabeth reconnects with her old friend, Teddy Cutting. Teddy has quickly become one of my favorite characters. In the previous novels he has not been a standout character, only being mentioned as the level headed friend of Henry. Teddy clearly is in love with Elizabeth, and Elizabeth begins to entertain the idea that in time she might find happiness with him. She almost confesses all to Teddy, but propriety gets the better of her again and she doesn't.
When Teddy practically proposes to her again, Elizabeth cannot bring herself to accept him, and Teddy leaves for war in order to prove himself and make himself worthy of Elizabeth. To make matters worse, Elizabeth finds herself pregnant with her late husband's child. Much to her chagrin, Elizabeth must find herself a husband before her condition becomes public knowledge. With Teddy gone to war, Elizabeth finds her situation becoming dire. At the last minute, Mr. Cairns arrives to save the day and volunteers to marry Elizabeth to spare her social disgrace. I'm beginning to think that there maybe some ulterior motive to Mr. Cairns' kindness towards the Holland family, although I'm not sure what it may be, as the Holland's have no fortune left to their name. I thinking that it may have something to do with the land out west that Will had hoped to use to make his fortune. I'm curious to see how this will play out in the next book. I am also curious to see how Teddy responds to the news that Elizabeth is married and with child. I guess I will have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Penelope and Henry's married life is anything but blissful. Penelope has finally gotten what she has always wanted, she is Mrs. Henry Schoonmaker, but she quickly finds that her new life is anything but what she expected. Henry refuses to share a bed with her and is still pining over Diana Holland. Penelope, in an effort to keep Henry in her sights, hijacks his trip to Florida, which he had planned with Teddy. This "boys trip" quickly turns into a chance for Penelope to parade herself around in front of everyone. She conspires to get Elizabeth to come in order to give society the impression that there is no animosity between the two friends after Penelope's marriage to Elizabeth's former fiance. Elizabeth, who is determined to help Diana get Henry back, accepts and quickly conspires to have Diana come along on the trip as well, much to Penelope's chagrin. Not to be out done however, Penelope invites her brother Grayson along with the purpose of seducing Diana and tarnishing her in the eyes of Henry. What she doesn't count on is Grayson falling for Diana. Despite Penelope's scheming, Henry become increasingly determined to leave Penelope, despite what the consequences are.
While I had originally thought that Henry's motivations for marrying Penelope were noble, this book ruined forever any feelings of pity I may have had for Henry's plight. He proves himself to be nothing more than a drunk coward. He makes mistake after mistake, and just when you think he is finally going to be a man and step up, he chickens out. I am starting to think that he and Penelope totally deserve each other. They are both selfish, conniving, and shallow. What surprised me was Henry's solution to the problem - enlisting in the army like his good friend, Teddy. While Teddy's motivations for join the military are clear, Henry's are not. I am assuming is main motivation is get away from Penelope, but I'm not sure what he is hoping to gain by this move.
I found myself increasingly disappointed in Diana. She was one of my favorite characters. I love how she was always willing to march to the beat of her own drum, and how she was less concerned with the social rules she was expected to follow. However, she continually allows herself to be drawn in and betrayed by Henry. I don't doubt that Henry loves Diana, but I don't think that he is deserving of her. I wanted to scream and shake her time and time again as she allowed herself to be sucked into Henry's false promises. I know that it's hard to get over your first love, but I just wanted her to wake up and realize that she could do so much better than him. However, Envy end with Diana running away in pursuit of Henry. I can only imagine that this will end badly.
I was hoping that Lina Broud, a.k.a. Carolina Broad, would finally get her comeuppance in Envy, but sadly that didn't happen. Carolina joins the party in Florida and quickly finds herself falling for Leland Bouchard. However, her fun quickly ends when she is forced to return to New York after learning about the death of her older, wealthy benefactor. Carolina is unceremoniously thrown out and it appears that all her good fortune has finally ended. I was hoping that she would be unable to recover from this and that karma would give her what she deserves for her past behavior. However, this turns out not to be the case after the will of her benefactor is read and Carolina learns that he has left the majority of his estate to her.
I can't wait to see how everything comes together in Splendor and have high hopes that I will not be disappointed, but we shall see!