Welcome to my stop with Tasty Book Tour and Liz Carlyle and her title The Earl’s Mistress, book 10 in the MacLachlan Family and Friends Series. Be sure to read on for my excerpt and review – and don’t forget to check out the other tour stops where you can find out what others thought about the book. Don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway where one lucky winner will win a Print Set of St. James Society Romances Including: A BRIDE BY MOONLIGHT, THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET, and THE BRIDE WORE PEARLS all by Liz Carlyle.
A Victorian setting with a twist out of the hallowed society settings, this story had wonderful characters that kept me reading even when the plot stutter-stepped through some rather painful moments. Working well as a stand-alone, I did not find a great lack of information to understand the characters that popped in and out.
Isabella was an interesting character, while I appreciated her determination to support her sisters, her lack of solid decision making and obsession with all things that were not of the moment (her past, her choices, her resentments ) was occasionally grating. Not quite the personality that befits a governess, Isabella has the smarts and the courage to do the job, but her sharp tongue, impulsive reactions and beauty do all conspire to make her a less than ideal choice. Unfortunately, she discovers those hard truths early on, when dismissed from her position and her inability to find another leads her on a desperate path.
Daring and dashing, the rake Hepplewood is an interesting character. Not so bothered by the scuttlebutt about him, as a man and an Earl he can withstand most gossips without great bruising. But, Anthony is far deeper than one would expect: the rakish demeanor hides a fierce protective nature and a slight overdose of self-importance that has him reliving and regretting mistakes in judgment and ills that befell those he loves, whether or not he is actually responsible. He also has a controlling nature, and doesn’t appreciate the word no: not that he has heard it very often.
When Isabella’s search for a new position brings her to the attention of the Earl of Hepplewood, his curt dismissal and suggestion that she is fit for no position other than that of mistress is a turning point for them both. Aghast and angered, Isabella’s exit from that interview was less than stellar, and the fact that Anthony’s prediction seemed to be correct was galling. But, again, Isabella is determined to make a life for herself and support her sisters, so she dives into the courtesan game with both feet.
Of course, Anthony is the interested patron, and their revelations are interesting. Far more enticing is the push-pull between them, and the interference of family members all wanting to put their two cents in. Anthony’s need for control does lead to a few rather uncomfortably detailed sex scenes that dance with BDSM in a very amateurish, first opportunity way. There was not a solid explanation or preparation for the scenes, and they didn’t serve any great furthering of the plot for me. But, the relationship, even if Isabella was not supported by Anthony for long, was a clever one that kept them circling and dancing around one another in very satisfactory ways.
There were several highly repetitive moments, usually from Isabella that really made me want to shake her: the same arguments, the efforts she made to blame Anthony for her lifestyle, and her general lack of moving forward by the word for word, thought for thought rehashing of issues stalled her growth and character dramatically for a large portion of the book. But, she does, finally, come through it with Anthony’s help, and we do see her taking charge of a decision that will change her life again, for the better. Engaging and enjoyable, my first book from this author will not be my last.
This review first appeared at The Jeep Diva on 1 August, 2014.
Title: The Earl's Mistress
Author: Liz Carlyle
Series: MacLachlan Family & Friends #10
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Avon
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 52 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound
Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose sensual skills are the stuff of legend. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap to his face, then stalks out with references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is left burning . . .
Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty-but the latter is no use to a servant. With orphaned sisters to feed, eviction nearing, and Hepplewood’s words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . .
But when fate unknowingly sends Isabella back into Hepplewood’s arms, the earl must make an impossible choice-draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.