Avon Impulse, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-244634-3
Historical Romance, 2016
Liam Cavanaugh, the Earl of Wolford, sets a rather interesting set of rules when it comes to women wanting his heart. First, every woman who claims to want his love must be a lying hussy, because with his reputation as a rake, women would only want him for less-than-pure intentions. Two, all women are lying hussies, because he was once burned by a lying hussy. A man like him deserves to spend the rest of his life alone, loved only by syphilis, but oh well, this is a romance novel so he gets a starring role as a catch of the season. Liam also likes his antiquities, and it is a close secret, known only to every bro that is going to have his own story, that he actually studies them and can tell fake ones from real ones. Shame that his ability doesn’t extend to actual people, but I guess nobody is perfect.
Shortly after This Earl Is on Fire – ugh, that song this title is a play of is so annoying and it’s now stuck in my head – opens, however, he gets beat up and ends up at the doorstep of Adeline Primm’s place. She is staying with her countrified parents, and while her father is a Baron, both him and his wife openly practices as physicians. That’s fortunate, as Liam needs some bedside TLC. Of course, he also accuses Adeline of somehow starting this whole plot just to drag his pee-pee down the aisle, but Adeline fortunately doesn’t stand for that kind of nonsense. Now that she is in London, she wants adventures – running around at night in seedy places, taking part in horse races, and other things that suggest strongly that our heroine is a fan of Avon historical romances. Liam is the guy to play the tour guide, naturally, and they fall in love. Alas, can Liam ever forget that all women are lying hussies? Can Adeline adjust her plans to fit love in?
Interestingly enough, this is the second book in a row by this author that does not make me cringe at the characters’ antics. Yes, some suspension of disbelief is still needed, especially with that “I can’t get it up for other skanks no more so it must be love!” angle that I’m still surprised is being used in romance novels these days, but Adeline is actually a pretty fun heroine. She can be silly, yes, but she is also self aware where the hero is concerned. Our heroine has some motivations that I feel are real and relatable. Also, she can give back as good as she gets, and I love that the author allows the decision on whether to get together to fall on both Adeline and Liam. This is not a story where the heroine pines for a hero that takes his time to get over his trust issues, and as a result, Liam’s whiny crybaby antics are nowhere as annoying as they could have been.
Still, Liam is a boring hero. Unlike Adeline, his actions and thought processes are one-dimensional, designed solely to facilitate crybaby trust issue drama, and that guy often comes off as thick as lead. By the time the story enters its late third leg, I am rather bored of his drama, and I don’t think I would shed a tear of the author pulls out one of those “They are in love… and one of them then get fatally run down by a vehicle, oops!” endings usually found in Hallmark dramas and literary novels on that fellow.
Anyway, I’m going dock one oogie off from the final score because of the hero’s contrived crybaby antics, but I also have to say that This Earl Is on Fire continues what seems like a streak of the author being on fire and planning to take the crown from the other more established historical romance authors in the Avon stable. Its contrast to the author’s early books is actually remarkable. If she keeps this up, I may just have a winner in my hand one of these days.