Friday, July 8, 2016

ARC Review: A Gentleman Never Tells by Eloisa James

Series:     Essex Sisters #4.5
Pub. Date:June 28, 2016
Publisher:Avon
Length:112 pages
Source:Edelweiss

Seriously, I have got to read more Eloisa James. I still have a backlog for her, but the stories I have read have been awesome quality and solid entertainment. Plus - I met her at the RT Convention this year and she was super nice! It's always great to fangirl over appreciative authors, and I had a great time talking to her at the Viva La Historical event.

A Gentlemen Never Tells is a novella in the Essex Sisters series - a series that I have not started. ***hangs head in shame*** But I was able to pick up this book and delve right in, and I didn't feel lost. I am definitely curious to go back and read the earlier books now to discover the stories of the Wooly Breeder and the Scottish Sausage. *snicker*

The heroine of this installment is Lizzie Trout, younger sister to Catrina, Lady Windingham (a/k/a Wooly Breeder). Lizzie's father arranged her marriage to a titled member of the gentry... and it was a horrible match for poor Lizzie. Her hairy and rotund husband publicly shamed her by cavorting with his mistress openly, while Lizzie rusticated in the country taking care of his mother. The marriage took its toll on the pretty girl, beating down Lizzie's self-esteem until it was nearly non-existent. Now Lizzie is a widow (albeit a virginal one) who hides away from society wearing dowdy gowns and reading to fill her time. I liked Lizzie... even though she was down and out, she wasn't annoying about it. I can empathize with the desire to hide away and get lost in a book... sometimes its easier to live in a fictional world than to put yourself out there.  Luckily Lizzie has a persistent sister willing to goad and cajole her into minor social engagements.

The hero, Oliver Berwick, is a second son who made his fortune by investing in steamships. Embarrassed and ashamed of his youthful follies, he doesn't attend many social engagements himself and has no plans to marry.  When Oliver and his ward (his niece) are invited to a house party by Lady Windingham, he decides to go and make amends for past bad acts. I loved Oliver. He was direct, honest, forthwright, and handsome as sin. He felt an instant spark when he saw Lizzie and, from that moment on, he set about convincing her to become his wife. I liked his gentle persistence and that he noticed things about Lizzie that others overlooked (like her food preferences). 

As a novella, the story necessitated a bit of instalove. That usually doesn't bother me and it certainly didn't here. I had a lot of fun with this story... it was a feel-good happy romance. I liked that our main characters, who were quite serious on their own, lightened up and had fun when in each other's company. I also enjoyed watching Oliver raise Lizzie's self-esteem and make her realize that her late husband's faults were not her own. 

Everyone in the Windingham household was entertaining - from they hyperactive Hattie and her incessant chatter, to family games of croquet in the drawing room - this was a great way to spend my lunch hour.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

About the Author

ELOISA JAMES is a New York Times best-selling author and professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com

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Essex Sisters