The Earl Claims a Bride
When a trilogy is called The Heirs Club of Scoundrels, who can resist? I love a good Regency, and I love a good scoundrel, so what could possibly go wrong? Plus, we have a feisty heroine with a scheme, scoundrel friends of the hero, and a small pack of stray dogs. Then there’s the whole arranged marriage plot – that’s always been a good staple of the genre. And it works.
Harrison Thornwick is a reckless rogue, a gambler, and an expert marksman. As the fourth son of the Earl, no one ever expected him to end up a member of the Heir’s Club, but when his last brother, and his entire family, dies in a fever outbreak, Harrison is left the only surviving heir, and is declared the Earl of Thornwick. Unfortunately, this comes from directly from the Prince Regent, along with the order to marry a certain debutante by the end of the Season, one Miss Angelina Rule.
Angelina is also being blackmailed into the relationship – her father owes more than a fair amount to a variety of creditors and has gambled away what little they had left. On the prince’s word, the creditors have backed off for now, but only until the end of the Season. Angelina must marry Harrison to keep her father out of debtors’ prison. But Angelina already has a beau, of sorts – one Captain Maxwell, recently returned from India, is also looking for a wife, and their previous acquaintance has left the Captain with an idea, and Angelina in love. Now she has to figure out a third way out of this issue – one where her father doesn’t go to jail, and she isn’t forced to marry someone against her will.
Harrison is lovely. Absolutely lovely. Who doesn’t like the reformed rake, after all? He never expected to end up with the title, but now that he has it, he is determined to do what is best for his family and name. I admire the dedication. Though the beginning is Harrison-heavy, that fades drastically once we meet Angelina. The majority of the story from that point onward seems to be from her point of view. But Harrison’s wooing of Angelina was absolutely wonderful. He’s just ever so slightly manipulative, but it works. The whole absence makes the heart grow fonder line? Not just a line.
I think that my favorite thing about this novel was that Angelina was ultimately the one with the power in the relationship. She has to choose between her dream of the dashing Captain Maxwell and the reality of Harrison, and she does so in a completely logical manner. She gives the Captain a more than fair chance, takes care of her personal business and her father’s money troubles as much on her own as she can, and ultimately makes her choice in husband based on who she wants, not family obligations or previous attachments.
That said, Angelina was incredibly naive. She’s also a little too perfect for my preferences. She’s supposed to be feisty, but that never really came across for me. Her “feistiness” seems more like childishness to me – she wants one thing, but told she has to have another, and so she pouts and fights back. Not my thing, really.
I think my main issue, though, was that as much as I loved Harrison, as much as I enjoyed the courtship, overall it lacked the depth I was looking for. Most of the secondary characters are a bit a bit thin at best, and there were times the main characters were a tad flat as well.
Overall, though, it’s a solid story, a solid Regency romance, and I would definitely recommend it for a good read. There wasn’t anything in particular that wowed me, but I’d read it again. It was sweet.