Sunday, April 24, 2016

ARC Review: The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath

Series:  Hellions of Havisham Hall #2
Pub. Date:  April 26, 2016
Publisher:  Avon
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  Edelweiss

This is one of the hardest reviews I have had to write. Let me start out by saying that Lorraine Heath's writing was beautiful as always. In fact, it's a credit to the writing that I was able to finish the book because I just couldn't accept the premise of the story. But more on that later.

The hero in this book is Edward Alcott, twin brother of Albert, Earl of Greyling. Edward was the scoundrel brother, drinking to excess and gambling away his allowance... and Albert was the staid responsible half of the pair. When the brothers are off on safari somewhere in Africa, Albert is killed by a gorilla and extracts a promise from Edward to take care of his pregnant wife, Julia. This involves Edward pretending to be Albert until after the baby is born, even going so far as to have a funeral for himself! Julia and Edward have never really gotten along since he stole a kiss from her back during her first season. Julia had mistaken Edward for Albert back then... and somehow, despite being married to Albert for years, she doesn't realize that its not her husband who came back from safari.

I liked both main characters in and of themselves. I hated the deception that Edward was carrying out, absolutely hated it. But I was pulled into his war with himself, his extreme guilt vs. his feelings for Julia. So I was feeling the misunderstood vibe he had going. I liked that Julia kind of came into herself while the boys were away on safari, and her painting/illustrations was a nice addition to the story. But I couldn't believe that after only 4 months apart, she doesn't recognize that her husband is an impostor. I had such a hard time with this premise. I didn't like one brother being substituted for another. I didn't like the deception. I loved the hellions as a foursome, so I didn't like that Albert had to die.

So I ended up having to skip ahead in the book some to get past the deception... and I also skipped some of romantic parts because I couldn't root for the relationship. The parts that I enjoyed and did want to read were how the identity reveal happened and how they were going to deal with the situation in public. I also loved reading the interactions between the hellions as I really love when there is a close knit group of guys like this in the story. Oddly enough, once I skipped ahead a bit and got past the deception, I found that I did enjoy the story. So by the end, I was won over and glad that Edward and Julia got a happy ending... and the epilogue was great.

I also loved the Author's Note at the end explaining how/why she decided on this plot line, as I can only imagine how difficult this was to plan and execute. I commend Lorraine Heath for taking a premise that I didn't really care for, and winning me over to her side by the end. I also loved that she gave us a little history on the relevant marriage laws of England at the time.

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

Hellions of Havisham Hall

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