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REVIEW: Mad About the Earl by Christina Brooke

Dear Ms. Brooke (aka Christine Wells):

I didn’t pick up the first title in this series. I think I was put off by the concept of the Ministry of Marriage (although that’s probably why the series was bought by the publisher).  The Ministry of Marriage (and the fact that is has a name) is this corny idea where the old folks get together and arrange marriages for the young folk. Some of the old folks aren’t all that old.  The Duke of Montford, the central figure in the Ministry of Marriage, is in his 40s. The stories are about the wacky hijinks of getting the kids together and showing how clever the olds are at matching them up.

Mad About the Earl by Christina BrookeThe Duke of Montford has a collection of five wards.  This was the confusing part of the story to me.  In the first two chapters there are a slew of new characters and many of them were related and had similar titles.  Lord deVere is a Baron and the hero is from the deVere family and he is the Earl of Tregarth.  The heroine’s cousin is the Marquess of Steyne who is also referred to by the name Westruther and then there was his cousin the Viscount of Westruther. And so on and so forth. I eventually went to your website and gleaned some understanding from the minimal family tree information that was provided but I was irritated that it wasn’t better explained in the book itself.  Maybe a family tree would have been helpful or a cast list?

Rosamund Westruther had been betrothed to Griffin deVere in the summer of 1812.  She was thrilled. She gazed at his tiny portrait, an odd and not very attractive compilation of features, often imagining his lovely proposal and his sweet, soft betrothal kiss.  What she hadn’t bargained for was the beast of a man to not want to marry her.  When she overhears deVere’s grandfather speaking with Montford about deVere’s reluctance, she has the choice to flee in tears or fight.  She chooses to fight which completely baffles Griffin.  He cannot believe that Rosamund, a woman so beautiful that men stop in their tracks just to gape at her, would be interested in him.

“Fury burned through him, the same kind of frustrated anger that ultimately crashed in after an encounter with a willing bit of muslin.  Those women never cared what he looked like as long as he paid handsomely for their favors.”

Yes, he wanted her so much, he was near crazed with it.  But he hated the feeling. The hurt and resentment of it tangled inside him until he couldn’t see straight.  And that same impulse that made schoolboys pull pretty girls’ hair made him step toward her, boxing her in between his body and the stone wall behind her.

She didn’t shrink back or cry out or weep.  She simply looked up into his face.

While I enjoyed the sentiment his “want her so much, he was near crazed with it” occurred on page 18 of the book and merely minutes after their first encounter.  This represents the problems I had with much of the book.  Every emotion was troweled on but dealt with superficially.

Griffin thinks of himself as a lout, a brute and that no woman could ever find him desirable.  We never see any one snubbing Griffin nor are we shown why he believes that women would hold him in disgust.  When he bursts onto the London scene every one of Rosamund’s family views him as the stablehand but he’s not dressed appropriately and he had just come from the stable.  Unfortunately for Griffin, he needs something from Rosamund.  In exchange, she wrings an agreement from him to court her.

My main complaint (other than the hook) was that I didn’t feel that the story went deep enough into the emotional conflict.  The resolution was too easy.  Griffin’s big character change was believing that Rosamund loved him but I didn’t feel like Griffin’s insecurity manifested itself in other ways.  Rosamund read as a more static character for me.  While the interactions were lovely between the two, the plot moves along more by external threats to their relationship rather than internal angst.  It’s a sweet and sexy romance but it doesn’t have a stickiness of other stories.  Still, I am a sucker for a beauty and the beast story.  C+

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. joanne
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 09:41:40

    It sounds like an anemic attempt to ape Chase’s Lord Of Scoundrels. I’ll pass.

  2. Maili
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 10:57:33

    When he bursts onto the London scene every one of Rosamund’s family views him as the stablehand but he’s not dressed appropriately and he had just come from the stable.

    All right, I admit it. I admit that left me speechless.

  3. Jane
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:15:02

    @Maili He kind of prides himself in his unfashionable appearance. He spends most of his time out of the house. I dunno. I liked reading it but his angst over at being the beast never rang true for me.

  4. cbackson
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:18:52

    You know, I’m awfully fond of arranged-marriage stories, in part because I have a friend of my own age – 30 – who had an arranged marriage that has turned out to be fairytale-perfect, and when I am bemoaning my miserable internet-dating prospects, I sort of wish that some meddling aunties would take me in hand and get the job done. THAT SAID, there’s a way to do it, and this doesn’t sound like it. Also, five wards? I hate obvious sequel-baiting.

  5. Tae
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 00:39:21

    I wasn’t interested in this book at all until you said Beauty and the Beast! I love all fairy tale esque romances and now I feel like I must read this!

  6. Melissa
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 13:20:01

    I bought it because, like Tae, I’m a fan of Beauty and the Beast. Now I’m about a third of the way through and find the book more annoying than the average fluffy historical. The hero and heroine are like fated mates in a paranormal. They’ve had no meaningful interactions but they’ve both been consumed by insta-lust since their one meeting three years previous. One of the things I usually like about Beauty and the Beast tropes is that the protagonists see things beneath the surface in each other that the rest of the world misses. So far, I’m not sure these two have anything beneath the surface.

    And I could do without the whole Ministry of Marriage silliness (which I might like if it were actually humorous rather than give-me-a-break ridiculous).

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