Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-241275-1
Historical Romance, 2016
I have not any read any book in the author’s The Falcon Club series, so, just like the previous book in the supposedly “new” series Devil’s Duke, this one will not deliver any emotional intensity for me. This is because The Earl is actually a closure rather than a story in its own right; a lot of things here wrap up what seems like dangling ends from the previous series. Hence, when “dramatic revelations” – at least, I think that’s what they are – come out in the late quarter or so of the book, instead of having my world rocked as I go, “Oh, now I see! Now I understand! I bow before the brilliance of the author!”, instead I just roll up my eyes and I see these developments as attempted justifications of the characters’ tomfoolery up to the point.
In other words, do bear in mind that this one could be a brilliant book to someone who has been following the related books all this while, just as it could be a “Eh, who cares?” read to someone who hasn’t. And this review is written by someone in the second camp.
Anyway, the story. Emily Ann Vale now calls herself Zenobia because she’s on a very important crusade. As Lady Justice, she produces pamphlets denouncing all nobles as selfish twats that oppress the poor while indulging in their basest desires. Equality for women! Better marriage laws! And so forth. I smile… until the author, desperate to assure me that Emily is not like those real feminists of that era that do things no respectable romance heroines would ever consider, tells me that Emily doesn’t even gossip. She just uses things told to her by her maid and such. In other words, if Emily exists today, she’d be that person who considers herself feminist because she retweets Laci Green and Franchesca Ramsey five times a day, dutifully hashtagging each tweet with #killallmen and #dieciswhitescum.
Meanwhile, our hero Colin Gray, the new Earl of Egremoor, needs to marry Emily because of the obligations that come with his not-so-dearly-departed father’s will. Emily is like, of course, no, even if having a noble husband would be a pretty good way to inject her subversive views into society. Even a secondary character comments on this. But alas, Emily refuses to be anything but a stereotypical romance heroine despite her Lady Justice pretensions, so no, no, no. Just call her no, her name is no, and her flow is no. Colin is also obsessed with Lady Justice, so it’s a good thing that both women are one and the same, or he’d have problems deciding where his winkie should go into. Oh, and Emily needs his help to locate her sister – like all modern day Twitter feminists, all men must die, especially cis straight white males, until these independent women need a man to clean up their mess.
This story is unnecessarily convoluted and tortuous – something that readers of previous books may appreciate, I suppose, but to me, the whole thing is like wandering in a maze and wondering why I’m doing this, as I’m not sure whether I’d find great things waiting for me at the exit. Colin is alright, but Emily is basically no, no, no from start to end. Stubborn, determinedly mulish, and quick to judge while being often wrong in the process, she’s actually a subversive element – she is a walking poster girl of why feminism is something that should be left to intelligent, passionate women, not stupid girls with issues flailing to find a clue.
In the end, Emily gets her Meghan Trainor Bill presented in Parliament, good for her, but that’s because her husband decides to do it as he believes that he’s in love with her, and that’s what gallant dudes do. In other words, our feminist heroine attains her objective because she stumbles into a happy ending with a man, despite her best efforts to sabotage the whole thing. Feminism is, in the end, all about getting a man to fall in love with you and do things for you, so… yay?