Title: Sex and the Single Earl
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Genre: Regency Romance
My rating (Max 10): 9.95
The second in a series, Sex and the Single Earl is a stand-alone book. Its two main characters, along with some secondary characters, are introduced in Ms. Kelly's debut novel, Mastering the Marquess. Her debut novel was a wonderful introduction to a very talented new author, but the proof of how talented Ms. Kelly truly is, is this, her second book. It is even better than her first!
Sophie Stanton is an endearing heroine who loves deeply, feels intensely, is deeply loyal, and has an unshakeable sense of right and wrong. She is devoted to her family, especially her brother Robert, and she, "loves to distraction," Simon St.James, the Ninth Earl of Trask.
Simon is a hero I sometimes loved and sometimes wanted to shake some sense into. As an Earl, Simon was to maintain and care for his family's estates, but Simon was determined to broaden his responsibilities by investing in the woolen industry and becoming its biggest player. He was so ambitious, he often twisted his priorities and took for granted things he shouldn't have, most especially Sophie's love.
Sophie and Simon had known each other most of their lives. Simon always felt extremely protective of Sophie, but he never realized how much he loved her. It took a number of misadventures, some set up by his jealous ex-mistress, from which Sophie needed rescuing, until Simon realized how important she was to him.
A delightful cast of secondary characters, including spinster aunts Jane and Eleanor, brother Robert and his new bride Annabelle, and impoverished Toby and his beautiful sister Becky, move the always-interesting narrative along. The villains are unredeemable, especially Bathsheba the venomous ex-mistress, and add a sociological and historical depth to the story. Ms Kelly has obviously done impressive research.
If you are a romance fan, don't miss this one. If you are a Regency romance lover, you can't miss this one. Ms Kelly reveals and describes the underbelly of English society in a way Regencies never do. She introduces us to two abused and impoverished characters whom I hope she writes about in a book devoted to them. The "tour" of Bath is instructive--I haven't read about it since Austen's Persuasion.
I gave the book an almost perfect rating. If I had two things cleared up, I would have made it a 10:
1. What happened to Jem Taylor and Mrs Delacourt?
3. Did Simon exact any revenge on Lady Randolph?
Place this book on your must-read list. You won't be disappointed.
Even though I know the book would have a Dickensian bent to it, I hope Ms. Kelly writes a sequel to this book, telling the story of Toby and Becky two characters with too much potential to let their story go untold.
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