Eva Leigh

Books: Romance | Historical

Forever Your Earl (2015), Counting on a Countess (2018)

Forever Your Earl (2015)

Set in London in 1816.

Eleanor Hawke runs one of London’s scandal sheets, and one of their favorite subjects is Lord A–d, a notorious rake.

Daniel Balfour, Earl of Ashford, is searching for his best friend, Jonathan Lawson, who returned from the war a changed man. He is trying to hide his search, to protect Jonathan’s family–especially his younger sister–from scandal, so to redirect the eye of the scandal sheet, proposes to take the editor of the paper on some of his “adventures”.

Of all the names he’d been called in his life—“ rogue,” “prodigal,” “libertine”— rake had always been one of his least favorite. It implied a certain leering, cheap smuttiness.

I really liked the premise of this story, especially the mystery of what had happened to Jonathan and why he was hiding.

And I actually liked all the characters, from Eleanor and her best friend Maggie to Daniel and Jon’s little sister Catherine.

Unfortunately, once all the introductions were made and the gist of the story laid out, chapters and chapters were dedicated to either boinking or the internal dialogs of the two main characters as to why they were attracted to each other.

I. Didn’t. Care.

I enjoyed seeing them interact with each other in public settings, and I particularly liked thier first adventure, taking Eleanor to a Gaming Hell in disguise.

Maggie’s words resonated. As a man, Eleanor could get into any variety of trouble. She could go literally anywhere without fear. No one would question her presence or catcall her. She was free. Free of the burden of womanhood, where every shadow contained a threat and numerous doors were closed to her.

Though I do think she “caught on” to the trick of pretending to be male too easily. She’s a writer, not an actor with years of practice at being someone else.

But most annoying: their internal musings.

But she couldn’t stop thinking about him. He was like . . . like an infestation. Yes, that’s how she’d consider him. As if he were an annoying, but persistent, infestation of mealworms in her mental pantry. He wouldn’t seem nearly as alluring if she thought of him spoiling her flour and wriggling around in her sugar.

Chapters and chapters of that.


And the mystery of Jonathan fell not just flat, but I was actually annoyed how things were “resolved”. To be clear, Jonathan wasn’t miraculously made better, and it was clear that he and his sister had a lot of work ahead of them. That I thought was well done. What annoyed me was how he was convinced to allow his friend and sister to try to help him.

Which is too bad, because I really would have liked more of that story. In fact, several other books I’ve read do an excellent job with the story of men coming home from the Napoleonic wars changed and harmed. Here, the biggest issue was how Daniel was going to get over the scandal of falling in love with a woman beneath him.

That would be primarily through internal monologues.

So, I sped through the internal monologues and boinking bits, found out how they rescued Jonathan, saw precisely the direction where the NEXT book would go and gratefully put the book down, to move onto something else.

Publisher: Avon

Rating: 5/10

Counting on a Countess (2018) 

Set in England in 1817

Christopher “Kit” Ellingsworth was made an Earl for his service during the war. But since returning his done little but attempt to drown his memories in alcohol and women. Until he receives an inheritance–with strings attached.

“I’ll have money, won’t I?” Kit demanded hotly. “They gave me an earldom. What more could a girl ask for?” His could feel his pleasure garden slipping from his grasp, and the obstacle in his path was himself.

Langdon sent him a wry glance. “Oh, not much. Only temperance, fidelity, and fiscal responsibility.”

“Bah,” Kit scoffed. “Who needs such a dullard?”

“Most women of marriageable age,” Langdon replied.

Tamsyn Pearce has spent the last eight years smuggling to try and help the members of her village from starving to death after her father died and her uncle who inherited cared for nothing but his own pleasure.

I really liked both characters quite a bit. They’re essentially good and caring individuals. But they lie to each other. And… I just couldn’t really care that much about them. They were nice people. I wanted them to do well. But I wasn’t the slightest bit invested in their coming to do so.

Publisher: Avon

Rating: 5.5/10