I do enjoy a story with a scarred hero. And Lord Simon is not only scarred, but he is blind in one eye and burdened with a terrible reputation he doesn’t deserve. He carries the moniker “The Black Earl” and rumors swirl that he killed his mistress. Now he must find a bride and carry on the family lineage, but he would prefer a quiet, proper bride than another disastrous round with passion.
Lady Henrietta wants nothing more than to be that bride, not because she wants Simon, but because he has inherited her father’s earldom and she wants to keep Plumburn Castle in the family. Unfortunately, she knows she is no one’s ideal Lady. She cares more for her herb garden than fancy dresses or lively gossip. Then, there is her stutter which makes her even less desirable as a hostess or social paragon. But she is determined to make Simon overlook those faults and select her anyway.
Henrietta has no idea that she is the only woman at the house party that catches his eye. She fires his blood, but that makes him all the more determined to resist her. It doesn’t work. The stakes get even higher as the ladies at the party start falling ill. Is it coincidence or is someone trying to eliminate the competition for Simon’s hand?
I liked the story well enough, though it didn’t engage me emotionally. Simon was an ok hero, but I felt like there was more the author could have mined there. We learned he was betrayed and injured in his past, but there was a lot of telling with emotional distance. He was wary, but it didn’t feel like he still hurt. That could have made his need to distance himself from Henrietta more believable. It also would have drawn me to him more.
As for our heroine, I liked her interest in herbs, but her stutter felt more like a device to make her self-conscious. It didn’t feel like it was a deep-seated part of her. I enjoyed watching her give into her desires for Simon and owning her feelings. But her behavior at the last-minute mostly just served to irk me. Again, it felt like a plot device instead of an organic story development.
All that being said, it was fairly good, albeit superficial read. It was an easy read and moved along ok, It also managed to surprise me with one twist, which is cool. Overall, I’d say it’s an ok afternoon read when you’re looking for something light that isn’t too emotionally taxing.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Earl’s New Bride
by Frances Fowlkes
Release Date: September 7, 2015