Deceiving an Earl by Sharon Cullen
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Men of Mystery, #2
Release Date: September 23, 2019
Miss Ellen Hillgrave and Oliver McCaron, Viscount Fairview met and fell in love when they were both 17, they made plans to run off and marry, but in the end, Ellen married the man her parents betrothed her to, the much older Earl of Fieldhurst. Oliver was heartbroken and spent the next several years drinking and trying to forget Ellen, before settling into his responsibilities as Earl of Ambruster when his father died.
17 years pass before they meet again at a literary salon hosted by Ellen, who is now widowed and the mother of a 16 year old son, Philip. Oliver is at the salon at the behest of Sgt O’Leary of Scotland Yard to investigate a possible threat to the crown. Oliver is talking to the daughter of his target when Ellen approaches him. They speak for a few minutes when she is approached by Sir William Needham, the Royal Surgeon and her unofficial suitor. Later Oliver asks O’Leary about Sir William and learns his is respected and famous, Oliver tells himself it doesn’t matter who she is with, that he is over her, but deep down, he knows it isn’t true and he vows to stay away from her.
His plan is almost immediately shot when O’Leary sends him an urgent summons, once he gets to O’Leary’s office he is shocked to find out that Ellen’s son Philip is there and is rip-roaring drunk, O’Leary asks Oliver to take him home. Which he does and learns that this is not the first time Philip has been in trouble, he was recently kicked out of Eton and at her wits end, Ellen asks Oliver to speak to the headmaster. Oliver does and ends up agreeing to vouch for Philip and sets out to get the boy on the straight and narrow, which brings him in proximity of Ellen.
They both know the love they shared never died, but Ellen has a secret that she is sure will destroy her son’s life and refuses to consider reconciling with Oliver, not to mention she has a blackmailer who will stop at nothing to control Ellen and uses her secret to win her hand. And for his part, Oliver admits that she is the only woman he has ever and will ever love and refuses to give up. And so it begins…
I thought this could have been an outstanding story, but there were just things that bothered me, the first and most important being Ellen’s secret, I absolutely despise this trope and had a hard time getting past my dislike for her, especially when her reason for keeping the secret is so ridiculous and an incorrect. The second thing: this book has some very violent and graphic physical abuse scenes that may be upsetting to sensitive readers and there really should be a trigger warning in the blurb. Finally, I wasn’t thrilled with the way the villain was dealt with, his punishment was too mild considering what he had done. This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone and if you have read the first book, you will love catching up with Jacob and O’Leary!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*