Earl of Weston by Anna St. Claire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4
Series: Wicked Earls’ Club #6
Publication Date: 2/14/17
This new-to-me author has included my two favorite elements in a book – mystery and romance. Well, actually, it was a little short on the romance side but was probably typical for marriages of that period. I believe that the book tried to cover too many elements for a novella and I didn’t really feel complete with either of the elements – especially the romance though. There was potential – and they were getting there – but I don’t think a great romance was there yet. The characters had great potential, but they didn’t feel fully developed – although the hero and heroine were fairly well developed. Some of the story also felt a bit contrived – yes, I know it is a story and they are all contrived.
There are some light moments in the story with an incorrigible parrot. He’s absolutely priceless – and the real hero of the story.
Edward Hunter, Earl of Weston, had returned to England from a mission for the crown to find his brother, Robert, dead. Then, a short time later his father died and Edward unexpectedly assumed the title he didn’t want. After some questioning and investigating, Edward came to believe that his brother was murdered rather than dying in the duel he was supposedly fighting. Edward drinks too much and gambles too deep – he always has – and that causes a rift with his mother who blames him for Robert’s death. When Edward finally gets a clue to the whereabouts of a witness he’s been seeking, he and his best friend, Bergen, headed to a house party at the home of Lord Bentley.
Hattie Longbottom is a twenty-six-year-old spinster who is as naïve as the day she was born. Since the age of sixteen, she lived in a very small village taking care of her ailing mother. She’s very involved in the church and takes all of those homilies to heart. Her bright spot is her parrot, Archie. After the death of her mother, she had the choice of living with an aunt (without Archie) or with her half-brother. She chose to live with her brother because she could keep Archie.
So, here is one of those contrived bits I mentioned. The village reverend puts Hattie and Archie on a coach to travel to her brother’s residence. This is a brother who loves his sister and cares for her – he is a member of the aristocracy, but we don’t learn what title he has – we do learn it is less than an Earl, so it must be a Viscount or Baron. At any rate – there is no way he would have allowed his sister to board a mail coach, unchaperoned (or otherwise) to travel to him. He would have sent his coach or come himself. So – that whole part of the story was just not believable to me. There are other bits that felt contrived, but that was the biggest one.
The author used a term that is new to me and I have to find out more about it because it is the first time I’ve seen it used and I have read a lot of Regency period romances. She used it in relation to winning bets. So, I’ve got some research to do. I’m not questioning the use of the term or whether it is correct or not – just something I haven’t seen before. Here’s one place it is used – “Edward was one monkey richer after five games of piquet.” I just have to find out what a monkey is!
I enjoyed the story and would try another book by this author should she choose to write another Regency. I don’t believe that is her normal genre, but I’m not sure.
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