Sunday, September 13, 2015

Review and Author Interview: The Earl's New Bride by Frances Fowlkes

The Earl's New Bride 
by Frances Fowlkes
Pub. Date:  Sept. 7, 2015
Publisher:  Entangled Scandalous
Pages:  214
Format:  eARC
Source:  Entangled / NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

England, 1819

The Earl of Amhurst has returned to his estate in search of a wife and, more importantly, an heir. Simon Devere isn't interested in some comely, simpering creature. A beautiful woman only brings heartbreak and ruin, and Simon's disfigured visage is proof enough of that. No, he wants a wife who is unattractive and undesirable—and the homelier, the better. 

But nothing about Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is homely. She is lovely and sweet...and struggles to mix with polite society when she would so much rather have plants for company. And yet Simon is her only hope for keeping Plumburn Castle in her family's possession. Even if it means marrying a man she doesn't love. 

It's an impossible and unlikely match...unless this awkward beauty can bring hope back into a solitary beast's life. 

This was a good solid historical romance, very Jane Austen-esque in nature. I think it will make historical romance "purists" happy - those who don't like the current trend to get really steamy in the story. Frances Fowlkes is a new-to-me author, and one that I will be reading more of in the future.

This story is similar to some of the historical retellings of Beauty and the Beast. Our hero is Simon Devere, Earl of Amhurst. Simon received the moniker "Black Earl" due to a sordid past of salacious rumors which resulted in his disfiguring. Simon has decided its time for him to take a wife and has invited some eligible ladies to his estate for a country soiree, where he will pick one among them. Unfortunately for Simon, the rumors and scars scare most ladies away - which is too bad because I absolutely loved Simon. He was broody and brokenhearted, just one of those men that you wanted to get your hands on and fix right up. I was in his corner cheering the whole time, even when he was bound and determined to find a wife that he was not attracted to. I totally understood his reasoning given his past full of betrayal and heartache.

I also liked the heroine, Henrietta, who was an intelligent introvert who cared more for reading and Herbology than she did for parties and people. I definitely identified with Henrietta - I hate when things get to peopley! After the death of her father (who bore no sons), Henrietta and her family are in danger of losing her ancestral home. So Henrietta is determined to wed the new earl to keep her home if nothing else. But Henrietta is such a good person that she was able to see past the rumors and scars and find the good person in Simon that the other ladies overlooked.

Of course every historical needs a little scandal, so we have a touch of that here with mysterious illnesses, romantic rivalries and the scandal broadsheets that get delivered on a regular basis. There is even a little mystery happening that had an unexpected culprit. The story had good bones and was paced well and was just overall a "good read" (for all my lack of eloquence in this review).

I received an advanced copy of this book from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

About the Author

After viewing her all-time favorite love story, “Anne of Green Gables”, at the impressionable age of ten, Frances Fowlkes has been obsessed with affable boy-next door heroes, red-heads, and romance stories with lots of “highfaluting mumbo jumbo” written within their pages. It only seems natural then that she married the boy who used to pull on her curls in her high school English class, had not one, but THREE red-headed boys, and penned multiple love stories with bits of flowery prose. 

When not writing, Frances loves spending time with her family, fangirling, and planning her next vacation.

Frances Fowlkes, originally a northern mid-westerner, now lives in the southeast with her ardent hero of a husband, three playful and rambunctious boys, and one spoiled standard poodle. 

A self-professed Anglophile and summa cum laude graduate of LeTourneau University, Frances Fowlkes combines her passion for happily-ever-afters with her interests in both American and English histories.

Author Interview

Bambinas - today we are welcoming to the blog a newer author of historical romance, Ms. Frances Fowlkes. Drop a comment and make her feel welcome, and let's show her some southern hospitality!

So Frances, tell us how you decided to entertain the masses with your writing. What made you select historical romance over one of the other romantic subgenres?
I came to writing out of motivational inspiration. I didn't like how a story ended, so I set about creating my own novel. One that pleased me--and a writing career was born. As far as choosing historical over other subgenres, well, I'll take ball gowns and ratafia over jeans and lattes any day. Slipping into the past is more fun for me, and since I've always been fascinated with the past, historicals seemed a natural fit.
Are you a historical guru or do you research the time periods of your stories? If you research each story... tell us a little about it. How long does it take and what types of information are you looking for?
Hahaha. Historical guru? No. In possession of a passion for history? Yes. I may have a base knowledge of the Regency era, but there is a gob ton I don't know. I research what I can and fudge on the rest. My stories are definitely not history books and reflect that. They are stories that take place in a romanticized version of the era. I like to say they are 'loosely based'. I still try to remain true, but in so much as it suits my story rather than pure historical fact.
Do your characters spring out of your head fully formed, or do you base your characters on real people (famous or otherwise)?
My characters don't fully form until the final edits. I'm constantly learning about them until the very end. I don't base them on any real people, per se, but rather real attributes like a physical stutter or an intense interest in books and learning. I have a vague idea of what I want my character to be like when I first start, and then I watch as they develop when I throw different scenarios at them.
Do you have any interesting, funny or just plain weird writing quirks? 
Other than the quirks inherent to writing itself, like hearing character's plead for their own stories in my head? No. :) Unless you count listening to pop and hip hop while I write historicals...I suppose that is kind of weird. But it works, so I go with it.   
Your newest release, The Earl's New Bride, is the story of an introverted intelligent heroine and a broody disfigured hero. I love both of these types of characters! Were there any aspects of Henrietta or Simon that you found challenging to develop?
YES! Both Henrietta and Simon were a challenge to work out. I wanted Simon to be likeable yet damaged, and Henrietta to be a little silly, but real. The balance was crucial and that took a lot of tweaking and fine tuning to get them to be relatable characters that readers wanted to cheer on. 
You have two other novels out, want to tell us a little about those? 
Sure! My first novel, "The Duke's Obsession" actually features Henrietta and her sisters. They are my math-inclined and American heroine's cousins! "The Duke's Obsession" pairs an English duke with an American heiress and lots of miscalculations ensue. My second book, "Miss Winters Proposes" features a desperate heroine with a passion for the unfeminine art of dog breeding who blackmails her handsome introverted neighbor by kidnapping his pregnant dog. Lots of fun flirty shenanigans. 
What are you working on now?
Actually...nothing. I'm taking a break from writing. *gasp* I know, horrendous, right? But a girl has to do what is right by her, and at this time, not writing is actually better for me. It took me a long time to realize that, but it's decision I'm enjoying and not regretting. 
In your bio, it says you like to fangirl. So tell us, who do you fangirl over?
Not so much as who, but what. Star Wars. Marvel. Star Trek. Harry Potter. Disney. Downton Abbey. It's an odd assortment, I know, but I get into them!
Finally, give us 3 fun-to-know facts about Frances Fowlkes!
  1. Unlike the majority of writers, I'm an extrovert. I LOVE socializing and being around people.
  2. I sew. As in fashion, not quilting. In particular, by bringing my fandoms to my wardrobe. I have a pretty awesome Star Wars dress I am looking forward to wearing to the movie this December!
  3. I can Irish dance, as in dance a reel and jig. Yep. I even competed and won a few medals in the sport.
Frances, thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little better. Your readers appreciate your time and creativity. And y'all come back now, ya hear?!