Dear Ms. Caskie
I picked up your book with the vague impression that I had read you before and enjoyed you. Unfortunately that is not the impression that I was left with at the end of How to Engage an Earl. How to Engage an Earl had all the standard regency hooks: a lofty titled gentleman who is a rake, a connected story of sisters, an overlooked heroine, and a scandalous situation that leads to a faux betrothal. In a crowded book field, this story fails to stand out.
Anne Royle is the middle sister of three who might be the secret daughters of the Prince Regent. Despite being a “startling vision swathed completely in white”, she easily blends into the background to the extent that she is invisible. She is able to drift from couple to couple in a party, lifting glasses from peoples’ hands, just for the fun of it. Of course, she plays this game knowing that she is not supposed to draw attention to herself. Which makes complete sense to me. Of course, a beautiful woman with pale hair, snowy porcelain skin and described as “an angel incarnate” would easily be overlooked doing strange things in a ballroom filled with bored people looking for a scandal to whisper about.
And what of the hero? The Earl of MacLaren, Laird Allen, is similarly a mass of contradictions. The book opens with our dear hero taking his turn in the garden with his second woman of the night. He’s supposed to be reforming but the minute he got back into society, he couldn’t resist the midnight garden pleasures with eager society matrons showing us he is a) a rake and b) very manly.
Anne and Laird are caught in a compromising position in Laird’s bedchambers so they embark on a faux betrothal to save Anne’s reputation and to make Laird more appealing to his former fiance. Lady Henceforth (!) left Laird at the altar because she felt he was always on the verge of disgracing her. (Lady Henceforth is a smart girl). Laird is believes that by participating in the betrothal that he can convince Lady Henceforth of his reformation. Because every woman who is afraid of your past inconstancies will be won over by the fact you’ve thrown over your fiancee for her.
The majority of the plot surrounds finding proof that Anne is one of the secret triplets of the Prince Regent. Like most every aspect of this story, I found it to be a bit on the silly side. Anne is somewhat appealing and there are some fun moments such as Anne making up the story of how she and Laird met and then having to fill Laird in on the details later. It is possible that this story was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek sort of romp ala Jasper Fforde with characters named Festidious (the butler) and Lotharian (an old roue), but I just kept rolling my eyes at every turn of the page. D
Release Date: June 26, 2007