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.
Source: ARC from Entangled Scandalous via NetGalley
This is a nice, light, historical romance with a strong Beauty and the Beast vibe. Henrietta is a sweet young woman who despite being beautiful is hampered with a stutter and a tendency towards clumsiness when her nerves get the better of her. All her life she has tended to favour the company of plants over people, and since her father also suffered from a stutter her memories of him are very important to her. Which is why she is willing to do all she can to marry the Black Earl and become mistress of her family home.
Which is a good enough way to start any tale, but I have to admit I was left slightly confused. Henrietta’s clear love for Plumburn (a name which I have an irrational hatred for. It’s just… what kind of name is that? There should at least have been some plum trees in the book to explain it) and her grief over her father made me think he’d only just died. Except Simon is known as the Black Earl already. This is because he’s actually been the earl for five years, while Henrietta and her family have lived elsewhere for all that time. And they weren’t even allowed to take any personal effects from the house? Her father was apparently quite a bit older than her mother, so surely he had a will? In which case his personal bequests were very stingy.
So, yes, I was a little confused at first because Henrietta is so attached to a place she hasn’t even seen for five years. However, this book isn’t one for dwelling on such details. Instead it’s a straightforward tale of a scarred man plagued by dangerous gossip and the beautiful woman he falls for. Of course Henrietta looks just like all the women who have betrayed Simon in his life, so he must stay away from her! Add in a handful of other marriageable misses, some mysterious illnesses, secret meetings in the herb garden and you end up with a sweet and enjoyable tale.
If you’re looking for a quick romance with a historical setting and aren’t too bothered with details regarding historical accuracy or character histories, then there’s plenty to enjoy here. The characters are nice enough to be interesting and there’s a touch of mystery too to keep things ticking along. Overall it’s a pleasant escape, and I wouldn’t mind reading more about Henrietta’s sisters.
The Earl’s New Bride is out September 7th!
Visit Frances Fowlkes for more details.