The Reluctant Earl
C. J. Chase
Harlequin Love Inspired Historical
Pub Date: Feb 5 2013
• ISBN: 9780373829538
• Price: 5.75
• Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Publishers Synopsis: Alone in a gentleman's bedchamber, rummaging through his clothing-governess Leah Vance risks social ruin. Only by selling political information can she pay for her sister's care. And the letter she found in Julian DeChambrelle's coat could be valuable-if the ex-sea captain himself had not just walked in.
As a navy officer, Julian knew his purpose. As a new earl, he's plagued by trivialities and marriage-obsessed females. Miss Vance's independence is intriguing-and useful. In return for relaying false information, he will pay her handsomely. But trusting her, even caring for her? That would be pure folly. Yet when he sees the danger that surrounds her, it may be too late to stop himself....
My Take: One of the reasons we love to read romances is their predictability. We enjoy knowing that the story is always going to end well. C. J. Chase employs this tried and true formula with an added twist. Most light romances have one plot that goes through the entire book, resolving in the last chapter. In “The Reluctant Earl” the main plot is intertwined with two others that makes for a very engrossing love story.
It begins with Leah, a governess trying to support a sick sister and Julian seeking the answers to his father’s death. Add to it political unrest stemming from a secret group trying to overthrow the government, estranged family members, misdirection, misunderstanding and the classic “governess fired and sent away with a dime,” and it all keeps the story moving right along.
This book is a cut above the usual inspirational romance.
Just when you think you have the story, the characters, and how it will end figured out, the author adds another layer of intrigue. Take the heroine, Leah, she’s a likeable character, but people who commit treason against their country are unlikeable– right? So from the beginning you are divided in your loyalties.
CJ also does a good job “pushing the envelope” in developing her characters. To make them memorable, a writer must make the bad in them very bad and the good very good, otherwise they come across flat. Julian reveals himself to be multi-faceted in his firm disapproval of a traitor, Miss. Vance, warring with his growing attraction to her. The tension within him is well depicted.
Both leading characters are defined by their love and determination to care for their family, which leads to multiple misunderstandings until the end when everyone’s true motives are revealed.
My Rating: 5 out of 5. You will want to read more by this author.