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Elizabeth Boyle

REVIEW:  How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle

REVIEW: How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth Boyle

Dear Ms. Boyle:

Cover image for How I Met My Countess by Elizabeth BoyleI don’t think I’ve read any significant number of your novels but I wanted to read a historical. How I Met My Countess blurb promised a reconciled lover story and I thought I would give it a try. I purchased an ecopy.

Miss Lucy Ellyson married Archibald Thatcher, a clerk, who eventually became the Marquess of Standon.   When Archibald died, Lucy became one of three Dowager Marchionesses.   The Standon line of men apparently do not have long lives.   Lucy is initially presented as a socially inept who creates all kinds of havoc, unintentionally.    All three of the Dowagers are young but do not get along.   Lucy, in particular, is the subject of quite a bit of disdain because of her lowly birth.

The current Duchess of Standon decides to place all three Dowagers in her old home and demands that they live together and if they don’t like their situations, they should all remarry.   She leaves them her Bachelor Chronicles. I assume that this all relates to a previous series of books.   Sadly this information is all imparted far into the book such that I found the first chapter to be a complete muddle.

After the first chapter, however, we spend the next third of the book revisiting when Lucy Ellyson first met, and fell in love with,   Justin Grey, Earl of Clifton. This was my favorite part of the book. Lucy Ellyson is the daughter of a premiere spy who was taken out of the game by his age and injury. Now George Ellyson serves as a spy trainer and his home is where agents go for final testing. Ellyson has two daughters, the lively and beautiful Marianna and the quiet beauty Lucy. There is not an agent that moves through that house that doesn’t fall in love with one of the sisters and Justin and his brother, Malcolm, are no different.

Justin, or Gilby, as Malcolm calls him, is an uptight aristocrat who wanted to prove himself worthy of the Clifton title. He had romanticized the work he would be doing for England but comes to realize how truly dangerous this position might be. In his arrogance, Justin thought he would go over to France, do something really wonderful, and come back to England with a distinguished career. In his training at the hands of the Ellysons, he realizes that the work that he volunteered for could end in his death.

"Darby. Was he a good agent?"

Lucy drew a breath to steady herself and nodded. "Yes. One of the best, or so I always thought."

He straightened a bit, his shoulders going taut. "And now?"

"Well, he failed," she said, hating herself to have to say such a thing about the man.

"And what would have made him the best?"

"Coming home," she said, sitting back and looking up into Clifton's eyes, so darkly serious.

Lucy and her sister devote themselves to training Malcolm and Justin as best as they can to ensure that these two agents will be the “best.”

This part of the story shows two people full of their own biases, slowly change and recognize the value in the other. They fall in love, part, but promise to wait for one another. But obviously Lucy did not wait and Gilby took seven years to come back.

The remainder of the book relates the story of the reconciliation. It also sets up the next two books in the series. I really felt the second half struggled to match the tone and quality of the first half. The focus is away from the couple together. Continued conflict relies on misconceptions, a secret baby plotline, and a kind of madcap mystery plot. I really didn’t get much satisfaction from the resolution of the mystery plot either. Too much of the end of the story is spent on the three dowagers, the Bachelor Chronicles, and other superfluous storylines but I did enjoy watching Lucy (Goose) and Gilby fall in love. C+

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon (affiliate link), Kindle (which is $1.00 cheapter) (non affiliate link), or other etailers.

REVIEW:  Love Letters from a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle

REVIEW: Love Letters from a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle

Dear Ms. Boyle:

Love Letters From a DukeI haven’t read many of your books, but each time I start one, I think to myself, why haven’t I gone on a Boyle glom and then I get to the end feeling one part happy and one part dissatisfied and I think its the latter feeling that drives my buying decisions. Love Letters From a Duke was a fun, sweet, and humorous romance whose flow was interrupted by frequent summary monologues but worse, we weren’t privy to many of the love letters which purportedly exchanged between the hero and heroine.

When Felicity Langley was 17, she wrote to the Marquess of Standon, the future Duke of Hollindrake, and suggested that they were a well suited pair and should marry. The recipient of the letter was not the Marquess of Standon as he was off fighting for his country. Instead the Marquess’ grandfather and current duke received the letter and with his secretary embarked on a four year letter writing exchange with Ms. Langley which culminated in an expectation of marriage.

Upon Hollindrake’s ascension to the title four years later and his return from abroad, Felicity, her twin sister, and their cousin, Pippin, ensconce themselves in a London house and await Felicity’s proposal. It is something that must be done soon for three women have no money for which to pay for their house, their servants, a proper wardrobe, cattle, and, it seems, even food.

Aubrey Sterling aka Captain Thatcher did not expect to be Hollindrake. He was the third son of a third son. When he’s off at war, he can forget about the unwelcome obligations that will be thrust upon him when he comes home but come home he must because Hollindrake is dead, long live Hollindrake. Thatcher does not want to be married, though, and when informed by his late grandfather’s secretary of the promise the two of them made posing as him, he’s incensed and determined to call it off.

When he arrives at Felicity’s home, however, he’s mistaken for a footman and the coil of deception begins. The conflict was very genuine. Thatcher finds a freedom in being the footman for the madcap home run by Felicity and her companions. Here there is no pressure to be ducal. Further, there were intrigues to be discovered and once caught in Felicity’s net, he couldn’t bear to let go. But once he starts to fall for Felicity and realizes that he cannot cry off, every day of continued deception becomes more fraught. He further finds himself in the awful position of being jealous of himself.

Felicity is shown as brave, clever, and vulnerable. Her passion to become a duchess is largely in part due her feelings of inadequacy and that no one could think less of a duchess. Overtime spent with Thatcher, Felicity comes to learn the true meaning of a “nobleman” and that perhaps her footman might be more ducal than the man on the other side of her letters.

There were parts of this story that were funny and tender and smart and touching. But many of those moments were degraded by the constant summary narrations. For example, a scene would show us how clever Felicity was in manuevering those around her and then Thatcher would spend three paragraphs telling us readers how clever Felicity was in the scene we just read, essentially retelling the scene and every emotion to be derived from that. It seemed like every smart scene was following by a “scene for dummies” guide so that the reader wasn’t left with even one nuance. I felt as if I was hit over the head with the importance of each exchange, each action.

I was even further disappointed by the fact that the title was “Love Letters from a Duke” and that the grandfather and Felicity exchanged four years of correspondence during which Felicity fell in love with the grandfather (posing as her promised betrothed) and the grandfather and his secretary became enamored of Felicity and we readers were only treated to two tiny, insignificant passages from these letters. It was like being promised chocolate pudding cake and getting cake but only a tiny piece of chocolate and a dab of pudding. (Probably a bad analogy but I’m hungry right now). The point is why have the “letters” be so important and not share them with the reader?

The characters are well developed, the romance is believable, but with so much unnecessary summarizing monologues and the lack of the promised epistolary exchanges made for an uneven and somewhat disappointing read. C+

Best regards

Jane

This book is released on August 28, 2007 and will be in eform and mass market.