Review – Last Night With the Earl by Kelly Bowen

About the Book:

After Waterloo, Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, was presumed dead—and would have happily stayed that way. He’s no longer the reckless young man he once was, and only half as pretty. All he wants is to hide his scars away in his country home. But when he returns home and tries to sneak into his old bedroom in the middle of the night, he’s shocked to find someone already there.

Rose Hayward remembers Eli as an arrogant rake who helped her late fiancé betray her. Finding him stealing into the house currently rented by Haverhall School for Young Ladies doesn’t correct her impression. Her only thought is to get him to leave immediately. Yet the tension between them is electric, and her painter’s eye can’t help but admire him, scars and all. He might be back from the dead, but now Rose will do anything to make him feel truly alive.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                  Last Night With the Earl: Includes a bonus novella (The Devils of Dover)

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Six years ago, Rose Hayward, the daughter of a wealthy baron, fell in love with, and became engaged to Anthony Gibson.  The betrothal introduced her to society, where she tried to fit in.  One of Anthony’s best friends, Eli Dawes, shared a passion for art with Rose, and the two became friends.  Eli even allowed Rose the freedom to view his art gallery at any time.  Both men went off to war together, but before they left, and unknown to Eli, Anthony betrayed Rose in a horrible way.  His cruel actions caused her to become a laughingstock and ridiculed everywhere she went.  Rose was so traumatized, that she withdrew from society, and devoted herself to teaching art, and painting portraits which bring out the true beauty of those who feel ugly or flawed.

Before Eli became a soldier, he lived a rakish lifestyle.  The handsome heir to the Rivers earldom fell hard for Rose, but kept his feelings a secret because she was engaged to his best friend.  At the bloody battle of Waterloo, Anthony is killed, and Eli is severely injured and scarred.  The injuries cause him to look at his life seriously, and he decides to stay away from England, and let himself be presumed dead.  He hides in Belgium for six years until an investigator finds him, informing him that his father has died, and he’s now the earl.  Finally, Eli decides to return home, but not to London.  He’ll stay at his remote Dover estate, away from society, and manage his holdings through lawyers, messengers, and clerks.

Eli returns to find that his Dover estate has been leased out to a school, run by Rose and her sister.  Since he and Rose were friends, he is bewildered at Rose’s initial hostility toward him, not knowing that she believes him part of Anthony’s cruel actions to her.  It’s not long before they get the truth sorted out, and Rose realizes that Eli had nothing to do with Anthony’s cruel games.  With their friendship renewed, Rose begins her campaign to bring Eli back from the half existence he’s been living, and to make him comfortable in his own skin again, even with his drastically altered appearance.

Rose is one magnificent woman.  The mental pain she suffered from her former fiancé’s cruelty ran very deep and almost destroyed her.  Though she won’t brave society again, she will make sure that she shows everyone she paints their genuine attractiveness and worth.  I love how she chose to give rather than become bitter.  Soon, Eli is comfortable with Rose, and her brilliant planning takes him along a path where he realizes that he can also become a better person and make a difference to many lives.

Eli’s attraction for Rose never died, and she now is free to return his feelings.  Their chemistry together is amazing, and they begin a relationship, which Eli wants to last a lifetime.  The earldom and his plans require that he return to town, and facing society is something that Rose is just not strong enough to handle.  Though she loves him, she can’t become his wife.

I loved seeing Eli become stronger, and less self conscious, while becoming a truly caring and giving man.  His determination to never give up on his relationship with Rose was beautiful to see.  LAST NIGHT WITH THE EARL is yet another wonderful story from Kelly Bowen, who has a gift for writing characters I fall in love with and stories that captivate me.  Eli and Rose are both wounded, and in need of healing.  First, Rose brings Eli back to life, little knowing that he will soon return the favor.  LAST NIGHT WITH THE EARL is an emotional and passionate romance with elements of kindness, courage, forgiveness and acceptance, and is one I savored and highly recommend.   ~Rose



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