This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on February 18, 2020
Who would have thought a brooding fortune hunter and a tart-tongued spinster would provide such an engaging Georgian Era romance? The situation got me curious and I just had to see how the dashing earl persuaded the practical dowered lady who wanted to be married for love turned out. It didn’t hurt that a favorite narrator had the telling of this one by a new to me author.
I Love the Earl is a prequel story, but it is a self-contained standalone that introduces the series. As I’m not familiar with the rest of the series… Yet. I will be… I can only surmise the principle characters in this one play a role in the next book as secondary figures.
The story begins with Margaret de Lacey, a plain-faced woman of around thirty years living with her bachelor brother and content if not happy to care for his domestic arrangements. They are gentry, just, and aren’t wealthy, but comfortably off until an estranged cousin and a great uncle pass leaving Margaret’s brother the new Duke of Durham and well-heeled to boot. Francis immediately slaps a huge dowry on her and her years of obscurity end. Margaret is now the target of every fortune hunter in England, but she is determined to hold out for a man who wants her and not her fortune. How to tell, though. She’d better figure it out especially in the case of a certain determined earl.
Rhys is an earl, but the title only came with debts and problems. He’s all to pieces financially after he settled all the debts of his father and guardian. He contemplates escaping his material responsibilities for the Continent. His best friend insists that he try for a rich wife. Rhys can’t stomach the idea of dangling after a woman just to gain her fortune, but he goes along to check the women on the list out when he spies Margaret and experiences a lashing from her tart tongue. She told him in no uncertain terms what she thought of men who lost their fortunes and what they could do with themselves. Little did she know that her spark of spirit and stately walk off left him wanting a wife for the first time. He would have Margaret and no one else. He plans his courtship carefully and sets out to woo a woman worthy of being loved. But, how to convince her he wants her for herself and not just her fortune…
The two principle characters shared the narration. I enjoyed getting to know them both and finding myself in perfect sympathy. I was easily convinced they needed each other, but understood what separated them. Rhys was a great surprise. His courtship was brilliant and canny. He understood the woman Margaret was. And, I loved how he chose to utilize her friend and certain connections without using them and discarding them. It was telling that they became his friends and were loyal to both of them. He was honest and didn’t lie even when the truth was not easy. He was a fabulous hero.
Margaret’s first cruel set down of Rhys who only asked her to dance had me unsure if I was going to like her. I get it. She was fed up with fawning men, but she really crossed the line and took it all out on him. What saved her in my eyes and restored respect was her genuine remorse and her apology to him when they met later. Of course, from then on he flustered her and she couldn’t make him out. He kept her on her toes because he was upfront with her about his situation and his intentions, but he went about it by befriending her and her friends to get to know her. She learned swiftly that if she smarted off like when she said she didn’t want to dance with him and to go away, he heeded her and danced exquisitely with her friends and never asked her to dance after that.
Naturally, it had to get even more complicated when outside interference happened and they were still battling through their issue of money vs. love. Never a dull moment.
Another bit I want to give kudos to is the historical setting. It was the Georgian period of powdered hair, minuets, sword duels, Vauxhall Gardens, masquerades, and lusty intrigues. The author brought out details so it all came to life for me.
Gildart Jackson narrated the story and I already enjoyed his work in a medieval mystery series. His work was familiar and welcome as he voiced Rhys’ low, cultured Welsh accents and Margaret’s warm female ones. Each member of the cast was distinct and I enjoyed the way pace and emotion were brought out to engage the listener more deeply into the story.
All in all, it was a wonderful story experience and I will definitely be going on with the first book and more from the author. Those who enjoy historical romance with good development, characters, and a spicy well-paced romance should give this a look-see.
My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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