Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Bethany Bennett’s lovely debut Any Rogue Will Do had me so excited about this new voice in historical romance. While West End Earl falls somewhat flat for me, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Bennett writes next.
Adam Hardwick has worked as a land steward for Lord Calvin Carlyle for two years. They’ve developed a close friendship, Cal even referring to his amiable, red-haired friend as Puppy.
But after Adam is attacked, Cal realizes that Adam is a woman, Phee, who has assumed her brother’s identity & the dress & mannerisms associated with men during the time so she can hide from her nefarious uncle & guardian.
Cal’s there for her, even as this development causes him to develop romantic feelings for his employee/friend. There are lots of things standing between them but can they make it work?
Kudos to Bennett for writing a sweet, beta hero who’s a good friend, a bold heroine, & an unconventional story. On balance I think Bennett writes with grace & sensitivity, & as I mentioned before, I think more great things are in our romance-reading future.
But I was disconcerted by Cal’s rapid transition in thinking regarding Phee. As Adam, Phee garners none of Cal’s romantic interest; Cal even muses on how unattractive a sister of Adam’s would have been. But basically as soon as Phee reveals she’s a woman, soon after Cal’s aforementioned musing, she becomes attractive to him. The turnaround is very quick & it just feels odd to me.
The story also goes in a very unexpected direction & while it eventually gets smoothed away, some of those vaguely rough edges took me out of the story somewhat.
I love the sweet friendship between Cal and Phee & that the story (& Bennett) are willing to be daring, but sadly West End Earl doesn’t always work for me.
3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 06/29
I was really excited to talk about Stacy Reid’s When the Earl Met His Match because my response to it’s so complicated. My initial impression was that I didn’t gel well with the writing style or the plot itself & then, before I knew it, I was fascinated by the story & couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
I’ll be honest: on the technical front this one falls kinda flat for me. But also, this romance ended up being a fun reading experience for me (🤷🏻♀️ at myself).
Lady Phoebe Maitland finds herself with quite the dilemma when the “unsuitable” man she’s fallen for takes her parents up on their bribe & walks away from their relationship. Unbeknownst to anyone, Phoebe is pregnant.
Determined to do the best she can for her baby, she proposes to a cynical man she had been secretly corresponding with, Viscount Hugh Winthrop. Hugh accepts her offer for reasons of his own but he vows to never develop feelings for Phoebe because loving women = bad, something he saw in his childhood.
When the Earl Met His Match is emotional & dramatic (sometimes overly so for my taste), steamy, & heartwarming. The way that Hugh warms to Phoebe’s pregnancy gave me some good feelings. I love how bold Phoebe is & how she learns to communicate with Hugh, who is mute. Despite their conflict, they take such care of each other.
But speaking of the conflict, that’s one aspect of the book that doesn’t seem executed as well as it ought. At around 30% I noted that I couldn’t find a sense of it, though it does become apparent again soon after. Overall, though, it seems that why Hugh agrees to the marriage & their conflict could have been foregrounded more strongly & precisely.
In terms of the writing style, it’s still not one that I “click with” wholeheartedly. But Reid knows how to tell a really sweet story & I really wanted Hugh to wise up so they could get their HEA.
3⭐️. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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