Review: An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

Generally, the Big Secret trope is one of my least favorites, but I like Caroline Linden and I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did, because while the secret was, indeed, the driving plot device of the story, I thought it was well done and it didn’t prevent me from rooting for this couple to make things work.

Eliza is the daughter of a successful businessman. Her father is ruthless in his dealings, and as a result, he has more money than Croesus. But that money can’t buy his daughter’s way into the ton. Not that such a thing really matters to her. At the end of the day, she is happy with her friends, her home, and her beloved dog. She has no idea that her father has a plan in place to blackmail an earl into becoming her husband.

Hugh is a good man who inherited both a title a mountain of debt when his father died. He relies on gambling to make the minimum payments, but his sister is now old enough to get married and he doesn’t have the money for her dowry. Matters are made even worse by a bad night of cards. That’s when he is approached by Eliza’s father, who goes on to make an indecent proposal. The man has bought all of Hugh’s debts and he’ll forgive them all, if Hugh marries his daughter. The catch? Hugh has to make Eliza believe it’s a love match and convince her to accept his hand based on feelings.

It would be really easy to cast Hugh in a mercenary light. After all, he does agree to woo and eventually wed and innocent girl so he can incur financial gain. But the way Linden frames it, there is no doubt Hugh is doing it for his mother and his sisters, so it’s impossible to hate him. He doesn’t want to be a cad. In fact, he ends up falling for Eliza in earnest rather quickly. That he continues to keep the secret is done out of concern for her feelings. But you know that’s only going to make it so much worse in the end.

Eliza is a lovely young woman. She puts on no airs; she’s honest, loyal, and kind. And that makes it easy to dislike the characters who would not treat her the same way in return. Hugh’s family is awful to her at first, but they slowly begin to thaw. In fact, everyone eventually loves Eliza once they get to know her, which ratchets up the tension to critical mass before the rug gets ripped out from under her feet.

I enjoyed this story far more than I would have from most other authors. Kudos for character development and managing to make them sympathetic, even as they do the wrong things for the right reasons.

Rating: B/B+

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

An Earl Like You
by Caroline Linden
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Avon

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