Check out how gorgeous the cover of Kate Bateman's This Earl of Mine is! The good news is that if you enter the Rafflecopter below, one of you will have the chance to receive your very own hard-copy (giveaway rules outlined below). Read on for a blurb and my review, and then enter that GIVEAWAY!
Introducing the Bow Street Bachelors—men who work undercover for London’s first official police force—and the women they serve to protect. . .and wed?
Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him—and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?
Not many historical novels I’ve read include a scene in that most notorious of institutions—Newgate Prison—let alone begin with them. I was so excited to see where a book could go when it opens with a heroine propositioning a secret-Bow-Street-Runner (and Earl’s brother!) for marriage, believing him instead to be a convict destined for exile.
It turns out that this crafty, entertaining read is willing to go a lot of places, all in the ultimate goal of bringing our heroine and hero together, of course.
While I was initially attracted to the premise of This Earl of Mine, it turns out to be something that execution-wise, I just couldn't quite buy. I appreciate adventurous historical romance plots and distinctive stories and voices, but in this case, I wanted more explanation for Benedict’s decision to accept the marriage and the financial agreement thrust upon him. As he notes, he obviously doesn’t have a lot of options, but marriage to a stranger while you’re a fake prison inmate (and about to be free) seems like a pretty big deal.
And while Georgie’s motivation to protect herself and her family from her cousin Josiah and like-minded fortune hunters is pretty understandable (even if she is securing marriage through somewhat less than honorable means), I did wonder at her failure to ask why Benedict—the bribed prison guard’s Plan B—had been imprisoned.
The arrangement between Georgie and Benedict becomes even more complicated when they decide to publicly court one another (without, of course, revealing that they’re actually already married), but I can forgive that because it seems to be the easiest way for them to be together later and also—chemistry and oh yeah, they’re keeping a secret and that’s fun and sexy.
What also works for me? The stirring sensuality between Georgie and Benedict and how it’s part of a relationship that’s based on genuine respect. Thanks to their unique circumstances—that of a shipping and trade heiress who actually works the business and a former rogue turned member of the Rifles willing to go to any lengths for the job—Georgie and Benedict are often overlooked/misunderstood/gossiped about unfairly.
Those misconceptions don’t last long between the two of them, and it’s sweet to watch.
Equally sweet (and also powerful and cool) is when Georgie issues a fantastic speech to Benedict basically illuminating his (and maybe the reader’s too) double standards when it comes to financial discrepancies between partners, especially when it's the hero living paycheck to paycheck.*
In the end, while I didn’t connect to the characters or story in This Earl of Mine quite as much as I would have liked, I did walk away feeling like I’d read something adorable and unique. Kate Bateman’s a bold writer who’s not afraid to take risks, and that comes across from start to finish in this historical.
3.5 stars out of 5.
*I've seen this motif pop up a lot in reviews of Angelina M. Lopez's contemporary Lush Money. Pick it up if that interests you!
To enter the giveaway, answer the question below. One winner (US-only, sorry!) will receive a finished copy of Kate Bateman's This Earl of Mine directly from the publisher.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for my complimentary ARC of this book. All opinions provided are my own.
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