Signet Eclipse, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-46679-2
Historical Romance, 2015
Unlike all those heroines in other novels that eloped with their boyfriends with nary a care, there are repercussions when Sophie Wembley’s elder sister ran off with their estate manager’s son. Sophie and her mother are in Bath when this scandalous development takes place, and now they have about two weeks before the news reach the people in Bath, Sophie’s mother has dragged her here with full intention of introducing her to some eligible bachelors, but now, time is running out. To ensure that the family name isn’t dented too much and, hence, keeps up the chances of Sophie’s younger sister of making a decent match in the future, Sophie must marry by the end of two weeks. Or else!
Sophie has only wanted to play music with her friends, but now that she has to snag a guy, she immediately thinks about John Fairfax, the Earl of Evansleigh. She has had a crush on him ever since she were just some cells undergoing meiosis in her mother’s ovaries, and she wonders, wouldn’t it be great if he would deign to wag his finger at her? She’d run so happily at him like an eager puppy! Of course, she knows that there is no chance whatsoever for her to be embraced and deflowered by the man she loves… Well, not quite, if you ask her friend May, who would love to help Sophie get a leg up over her dream man.
The good news is that Evan – that’s our hero’s preferred nickname – does have an attraction to Sophie. Unfortunately, he has a dark secret that has him believing that he can never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever marry Sophie, as he will only ruin her happiness and, therefore, he must keep his manly physique away from her grubby hands. Poor Sophie is already trying to work up her nerves to approach him, so how will the poor girl deal with a man who keeps giving her mixed signals?
That’s basically the story in The Earl I Adore. It’s a familiar dance of two people who, at the end of the day, just want to be noble and do everything for the other person’s own good, even if this means that they would both suffer from a broken heart for the rest of eternity. I’m sure you know the song: the heroine wants and works up her nerves to go for it, she doesn’t want to, but fate intervenes and she gets it, but he doesn’t want her, so she won’t want him as this is what he wants even if this means she will be one sad emoji forever, and he in turn feels a little dismayed at her decision, even if this is what he claims to want from her, so he too becomes a sad emoji.
Evan has so many baggage and family drama in his past that he sometimes come off too much like some cartoon character. Sophie has the intention, but her nerves fail her so often at the last minute that it’s almost comical after a while, her pattern of behavior. Also, I suggest that you do not drink or worse each time Sophie sighs, gulps, claims that she cannot go through something, or generally act like a goldfish that has fallen out of the fish bowl. You may end up in the intensive care unit by the time the midway point of the story rolls in. The author seems to have caught the old disease that caught Jayne Ann Krentz a couple of years back – she overuses certain words and phrases to the point that such overuse becomes very noticeable and even distracting!
Still, the story is pretty decent – as long as the overused phrases thing does not distract the reader too much, that is. There are some good scenes – funny ones, dramatic ones – that work. However, the story has, in the end, one major failing that sinks it somewhat: the happy ending is brought about by secondary characters. The hero and the heroine would have been happy to just sit across the room and stare mournfully at one another for the rest of their lives – it’s their parents and other secondary characters that have to set things in motion to force important developments in this story, and they are the ones who also force the two characters to reunite for a happy ending. As a result, I never get this impression that the characters want the happy ending – they seem to adore the idea of suffering for love more. I suspect they’d probably find some excuse to get back to being all miserable and depressed for the sake of the other person before the year is out.
The Earl I Adore is an okay read, but it could have been more adorable, all things considered.