Review – An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden

About the Book:

When you gamble at love…

When Hugh Deveraux discovers his newly inherited earldom is bankrupt, he sets about rebuilding the family fortune—in the gaming hells of London. But the most daring wager he takes isn’t at cards. A wealthy tradesman makes a tantalizing offer: marry the man’s spinster daughter, and Hugh’s debts will be paid and his fortune made. The only catch is that she must never know about their agreement.

You risk losing your heart…

Heiress Eliza Cross has given up hope of marriage until she meets the impossibly handsome Earl of Hastings, her father’s new business partner. The earl is everything a gentleman should be, and is boldly attentive to her. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to lose her heart and marry him.

But when Eliza discovers that there is more to the man she loves—and to her marriage—her trust is shattered. And it will take all of Hugh’s power to prove that now his words of love are real.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                An Earl Like You: The Wagers of Sin

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

You know when you’re barely into a book and you just know you’re going to love it?  That’s what happened as I began reading AN EARL LIKE YOU.  I knew right away that I loved both lead characters, and their ensuing story was all I hoped for.

Hugh Deveraux has recently inherited the title of Earl of Hastings after the death of his father.  Unfortunately, his inheritance also includes a multitude of debts and properties that are mortgaged to the hilt and have been mismanaged.  Though Hugh’s father was loving and generous, he was also careless and foolish with finances, undoing all the previous earls’ careful building up of the earldom.  In order to protect his grieving mother and sisters from the truth, Hugh hides their desperate situation, and sets about with a slow and methodical plan to build their fortunes back up, though it will take forever.

Eliza Cross is an heiress, and daughter of a very successful businessman who greatly desires to see her become a lady.  Eliza’s only foray into society was unsuccessful, and she didn’t care for any of the fortune hunters who pursued her.  To his credit, Eliza’s father will never force her to marry someone she doesn’t choose, but he still wants to see her married and settled.  Eliza is considered plain, and becomes quiet and shy around strangers, which doesn’t help further her acquaintance with eligible gentlemen she may meet.

Mr. Cross is aware of Hugh’s financial circumstances, and has been observing him, and how he lives and acts.  He’s impressed that Hugh appears to be an honorable gentleman who appears to be doing the best he can in unfortunate circumstances.  He also believes that Hugh is the perfect candidate to be Eliza’s husband, and begins buying up Hugh’s debt with the intention of making Hugh an offer he can’t refuse.

It had occurred to Hugh that he eventually may have no choice but to marry an heiress, but he considered that option to be somewhere in the future.  He initially has every intention of refusing Mr. Cross’s proposal until his sister’s urgent need for a dowry makes him reconsider.  He finally agrees to court Eliza, but will not go so far as marriage until he’s sure she’s someone he can at least like and envision spending the rest of his life with.

Much to Hugh’s surprise, he finds that he greatly enjoys spending time with Eliza.  His natural charm brings her out of her shell, and he glimpses her warm personality beneath the shy exterior.   He definitely likes her, and before long, he’s finding her quite lovely and very desirable.  Eliza falls hard and fast, and when Hugh proposes, she doesn’t hesitate to accept.  Their marriage begins, full of laughter and passion, and with Hugh’s debts being paid in full.

All is not perfect, as Eliza has to battle for acceptance, not only in society, but from Hugh’s own family.  And while Hugh finds himself genuinely falling in love with his new bride, he can’t help but feel guilt for how her father “bought” him and made him swear to never tell Eliza the truth.  What could possibly go wrong?

AN EARL LIKE YOU is full of heart and emotion.  I love Eliza, and empathized with her feelings of inadequacy – not being beautiful enough, not being sparkling enough.  Her blossoming under Hugh’s care and love is amazing.  Her care and interest in others slowly wins over her detractors.  Hugh was in between the proverbial rock and hard place, and nothing he did was for selfish reasons, yet there are bound to be serious repercussions when the truth comes out.  The marriage of convenience / marriage for money is a familiar trope in historical romance, but I found AN EARL LIKE YOU to be one of the absolute best I’ve read.  I also feel that it’s Caroline Linden’s best writing.  I adore this beautiful, warm, and passionate story which captivated me from the beginning, and it’s going to my keeper shelf, and on my favorites list for this year.   ~Rose

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