Series: Wicked Earls’ Club, #3
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Pierce Chamberlain, the Earl of Wainthorpe is definitely the star of this book, I loved him. Underneath the carefully constructed façade of a unrepentant rake beats a loving and caring heart.
Pierce has a mission in life, that is to destroy Bertram Normand, the newly minted Baron Fairfax. Pierce holds Fairfax responsible for the death of his mother twenty years ago in India. After careful planning, he finally has Fairfax in position to ruin him. He has purchased all his vowels and debts and is currently engaged in card game that will finally break him. Fairfax is sure that his luck is about to change and wagers not only his unentailed estate but his ward too!
Pierce is taken aback, he was not aware Fairfax had a ward, nor did he expect to be intrigued by the lovely young woman. He knows that if he does not accept the wager, she will most likely be sold to someone else. Wanting to protect her, he agrees to the wager and makes Fairfax write up a note giving Pierce full guardianship of his ward, Bianca Salisbury.
Bianca is mortified, orphaned at a young age, she lived with her aging aunt and uncle at Elmsford manor until Fairfax inherited the estate. She accompanied him to London, hoping to find work, but she never anticipated that Bertram would stoop so low as to sell her! She tries to reason with him and when that fails, she flees to the ladies retiring room. There she meets three women and when they learn of her fate and their brother’s part in it – come to her rescue.
Pierce is awoken the next morning by the “trio” and they blindside him with demands to know what he was thinking wagering for Bianca. He asks where Bianca is, because he spent the better part of the night looking for her. He is relieved to learn that she is safe with his sister Nora and then is shocked when she walks into his bedroom.
Pierce demands the ladies leave and promises to answer all their questions. He tells them to return to Nora’s house and he will meet them there. But first he needs to find out if he really is Bianca’s guardian and what he can do to protect her from Fairfax.
He arrives at Nora’s and tells his sisters what he has learned. He must apply to the court to be named her guardian and asks Nora if her husband would be willing to take guardianship if the courts deem Pierce as unsuitable. Nora suggests Pierce marry her and he finds he is not at all opposed to that idea. As they are waiting for Bianca to join them, Pierce spies her leaving and chases after her. Bianca overheard part of the conversation and assumes that Pierce means to dump her on his sister – she refuses to be a burden to anyone and takes off.
When Pierce catches up with her, she realizes how ungrateful she is behaving. She knows he is only trying to help her and agrees to go to Halverstone (his hunting lodge/country estate) and give him time to sort everything out. She is overcome by everything that has happened and begins to cry. Pierce comforts he and they share a kiss. When she comes to her senses, she slaps him and tells him she will not be one of his strumpets and there will be no more kissing! Pierce is delighted by her and tells her she will beg for his kisses. They make a bet – one month if she has not begged for his kiss, he will give her Elmsford manor and leave her in peace.
They spend the next few weeks getting to know each other and Pierce begins to woo her. He is weakening her resolve and she knows she is falling in love with him. But Bianca knows first hand what happens to women that give into men, she is scared that she will end up like her mother, alone and ruined. So when Pierce suggests they marry, Bianca turns him down, quite cruelly. Deeply hurt, Pierce starts to walk away, but tells her she is welcome to Elmsford, but he will not let her go until he is sure Fairfax is no longer a threat to her. He then tells her why he hates Fairfax. Then he walks away. But he looks back and sees her reaction and hope blooms in his heart.
Bianca knows she loves him and has pushed him away to protect herself, but now she wonders if love is worth the risk and if her cruel comments have ruined any chance she has for happiness.
I really loved Pierce, he was the perfect hero in my mind and when Bianca hurt him, I hated her. She does redeem herself, but I didn’t forgive as quickly as Pierce. The book was well written, had an interesting story, delightful secondary characters, a couple of warmish love scenes, a villain that gets his due and a very touching declaration scene. It is the third book in the Wicked Earls Club series, but could easily be read as a stand alone title.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by the author*