Series: Wayward Wallflowers, Book 1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
NEVER SEND A DEBUTANTE
William Ryder, Earl of Castleton, is at the end of his noble rope. Not only has he broken ties with his longtime mistress, his mother has publicly announced her wish for him to marry a suitable young lady―if only to help him raise the twins left in his care. Hiring a governess should solve some of Will’s problems…but when he meets the candidate in question, he finds himself in an entirely new predicament.
TO DO A WALLFLOWER’S JOB
Miss Margaret Lacey is brainy, beautiful, and, once upon a time, Will’s betrothed. But she bowed out of the engagement―and, since then, has never been the same. A tragic accident robbed her of everything, and now, at age twenty-three, her marital prospects are slim to none. Penniless but not without pride, Meg convinces the vexingly handsome Will to hire her for the job. What neither of them could have expected from this arrangement, however, is an attraction that burns stronger than ever. Are these two lost souls finally ready to be schooled in the art of love?
My Brown-Eyed Earl is a cute historical romance with potential. Anna Bennett’s debut, and the first in the Wayward Wallflowers series, has some sweet and humorous moments, but ultimately it’s a story that I wanted to like a lot more than I actually did.
Will and Meg are both lovely characters with good dispositions and generally good hearts. They’re not perfect and they make mistakes, but they’re solidly likeable and endearingly vulnerable at times, as are Will’s two charges. Will is a man who needs more purpose in life than rebuilding the family fortune and Meg is a heroine who is determined to save her family from the poorhouse by getting a job as a governess. It’s easy to see right from the beginning that Will, Meg, and the two girls would make an adorable family, but pride, class difference, and social snobbery stand in their way. Still, Will is attracted to Meg from the start. He likes her strong will and sees beyond the ugly dresses she wears, and I liked him all the more for appreciating Meg for her modern outlook. The romance moves at a quick clip, in part due to Meg and Will’s history (though there is a continuity issue in the book that made me uncertain as to how much of a foundation their relationship had before the story began).
Ms. Bennett has a lively writing style that shows a lot of promise. However, I confess I had a hard time remembering either Meg, Will, or this story a couple of days after I finished the book because it felt like I’d seen everything in this story a hundred times before in other historical romances. I actually don’t mind formulaic romances as a rule – so long as it’s a good formula, which it is – but there needs to be something about the story that stands out. All that was unique and memorable to me was one funny (if unimportant) moment involving a ruined dress. What I did remember the most about My Brown-Eyed Earl was that I was routinely drawn out of the story by the numerous historical inaccuracies. I’m more than happy to suspend disbelief and ignore convention in historical romance, but if a story almost entirely ignores the social norms of the time and the consequences of flouting them for the sake of the plot, then it’s going to lose me. There’s also a dreadful villain and a Regency “mean girl” who were so two-dimensional it pained me. Yet even with all these issues, I liked Ms. Bennett’s style and I was intrigued by both Meg’s friend, Charlotte, and her sister Beth. So while My Brown-Eyed Earl wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I am interested in reading the next Wayward Wallflowers book, I Dared the Duke.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.