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
Give me that HEA, please.
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