Not the Kind of Earl You Marry is the debut novel by Kate Pembrooke and I’m happy to say that Ms. Pembrooke is a promising new author. There are a few hiccups but overall it’s a delightful, easy story about two loveable characters.
Our story starts quickly when William Atherton, the Earl of Norwood, interrupts Baron Hurst and his sister Charlotte at breakfast, demanding to know why an announcement of the betrothal between himself and Charlotte has appeared in the papers when they have never met. William quickly realizes that Charlotte and her brother had nothing to do with this falsehood and the three of them discuss what can be done to right the wrong.
WIlliam is a rising political star, hoping to secure the chairmanship of the Reform Commission but an engagement scandal would dash his chances. And he’s concerned about Charlotte’s reputation, much more so than she is. In the end, they decide a temporary, fake engagement is the best option. They will pretend to be engaged until the chairmanship is declared and then Charlotte will jilt William. William suggests a carriage ride to display their devotion to the ton.
“When I agreed to this plan, I didn’t realize it would include flirtatious carriage rides. I’m not confident I’m that good of an actress.” She pursed her lips and gazed at him thoughtfully. “Although, if you let me drive, I think I could manage to look reasonably happy.”
“That, Miss Hurst, sounds suspiciously like blackmail.”
She gave a saucy little shrug. “In acting, I believe it’s known as motivation.”
Our charming duo then proceed to be seen at all the popular events, even though Charlotte would rather be at home or with a small gathering of friends. But she is enjoying her time with William a little more than she is willing to admit to herself. William is treasuring his time with Charlotte. He finds her sharp wit and unflappable manner delightful and he is wondering if they should explore a real relationship.
Charlotte and William have serious chemistry. The best parts of the book are when they are together, exchanging witty banter or just getting to know each other. It’s a playful relationship that quickly blooms into an attraction on both sides. Charlotte is a smart, quiet wallflower who values her gifts but doubts they would be the things needed to be a successful politician’s wife. She remains true to herself even in the midst of shopping trips with WIlliam’s sisters, demanding that the French modiste include a few flannel nightgowns in her trousseau!
William is a refreshing hero who is not a rogue and comes from a great, supportive family. What??? No mother who could never love him, no father who dismissed his talents, no brother who died on the battlefield leaving William awash in guilt, no gaming hell, no dark sexual desires, no empty coffers needing to be filled. Just a ‘regular’ guy, er… earl. What a breath of fresh air! He’s popular, dashing, and kind. Yep, kind! And funny! He and Charlotte exchange letters frequently and they are so amusing.
So why a B instead of an A? Well, there is a villain in this tale (the fellow who put the announcement in the paper) and he is vanquished much too easily. And Charlotte does something near the end that I just could not forgive her for. Which is harsh I know, but the selfishness of her action almost had me wishing our charming duo would not end up together. The story is saved in the end but the misstep cost it a higher grade.
Ms. Pembrooke has book number two in The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair slated for release next year. I’m pretty sure I know who our hero and heroine will be and I can’t wait to read their story.
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