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Monday, August 1, 2011

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (99 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A single lady in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a suitor

Margaret de Lacey has accepted her unmarried state with dignity, if not delight. She had no suitors when she was young and starry-eyed, though regrettably poor, and it’s unlikely any man will court her now that she’s older, wiser, and still just as penniless. Until, that is, her brother unexpectedly inherits the dukedom of Durham and settles an enormous dowry on her, making her the most eligible heiress in town.

No gentleman in London is more in need of a wealthy bride than Rhys Corwen, Earl of Dowling. He contrives an introduction to Margaret because of her dowry, but she swiftly sets him right: no fortune hunter will win her heart or her hand. Far from put off, Rhys is intrigued. Interested. Entranced. And soon the only thing he needs more than Margaret’s fortune…is her love.

If a reader is in the mood for a delightful and uplifting romance that warms the heart and brings a smile to their face, then I Love the Earl is going to deliver what they’re looking for.

I liked the way the author laid the groundwork for the story. I understood where Margaret was coming from and how she had to settle for her lot in life. What I appreciated was how the heroine never lost her sense of self, her humor, or feelings of self-worth. She adjusted, accepted and yet deep inside, she still had her dreams. The lack of her dreams coming true did not turn her into a bitter young woman, but I credit that to the healthy relationship with her brother, Francis. But even big, doting older brothers aren’t perfect as I found out later in the book.

A person who is not comfortable or accepting of his lot in life is Rhys, the sixth Earl of Dowling. Poor guy had a string of rotten luck and it’s put him in an untenable situation with truly only one option open to save himself. I like that he didn’t take the cowards way out, or this would have been a really short story. As it is, Rhys decides to marry the money. I quirked a smile at his confidence because he believed that it would be so easy to do. Nothing good comes easily and the hero found that out in short order, much to my delight.

The scene when Margaret cuts the hero to the quick is pivotal and fun. Right then a reader knows the game is afoot and they’ll notice a nice uptake in the pace of the plot, dialogue and conflict. It becomes smooth, quick and engaging. When the hero decides he’s going to seductively woo the heroine, I would place bets that not many women could resist such a ploy. It’s sweet, sensual and teasing. But it’s not perfect because, let’s face it, he’s a guy used to getting his own way and dealing with limp airheaded females, so, he has some adjusting to do. There is nothing weak, insipid or brainless about Maggie. And I loved that Rhys was delighted by that fact. The way he smiles when before he had nothing to smile about touched me. Those were sweet moments.

Watching both of them fall in love and seeing what differences attracted each of them to the other was fun. Seeing Rhys stand up to Maggie’s brother was a great scene. If I could shine a spotlight on a moment that screams romance, that was it. Gentle humor was another component of I Love the Earl and the author used it effectively, especially when the hero and heroine constantly got interrupted. It caused a few snickers on my end.

I liked this story and I’m pleasantly curious about what was going on with Maggie’s brother because I could tell something was. Although entertaining, this book isn’t one that will haunt me and inspire an obsession to read any and all books on Ms. Linden’s backlist It has however, put this author on my ‘worth keeping an eye out for’ reading list and should I see a book of hers in a store or library, I’ll certainly pick it up. Who knows, maybe the next one will flip on my obsession switch and Ms. Linden could find herself with a new fan-girl. As it is, she has my deep appreciation for writing a story that truly was heartfelt and loving.

I Love the Earl has a clear lock on what it takes to make a book romantic and engaging ensuring that readers are in for a treat. It’s sweet, tender and delightful. The chemistry between Rhys and Maggie was sizzling and they made a great couple. I enjoyed this tale and got a little weepy at the epilogue. Even readers not prone to reading historical romances will find this a story they can relate to and that’s a credit to Ms. Linden’s writing style. Check it out and see.