A single lady in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a suitor Margaret de Lacey has accepted her unmarried state with dignity, if not delight. She had no suitors when she was young and starry-eyed, though regrettably poor, and it’s unlikely any man will court her now that she’s older, wiser, and still just as penniless.
Until, that is, her brother unexpectedly inherits the dukedom of Durham and settles an enormous dowry on her, making her the most eligible heiress in town. No gentleman in London is more in need of a wealthy bride than Rhys Corwen, Earl of Dowling. He contrives an introduction to Margaret because of her dowry, but she swiftly sets him right: no fortune hunter will win her heart or her hand.
Far from put off, Rhys is intrigued. Interested. Entranced. And soon the only thing he needs more than Margaret’s fortune . . . is her love.
And here is Willaful's review:
The first word that comes to mind when I think of this historical romance is “direct” — and that's both its greatest strength and its greatest flaw. In a genre currently filled with coy, bloated stories, it's refreshingly crisp and straightforward. The downside is that everything happens very quickly, without much conflict or strong emotion.
The romance hinges on Margaret and Rhys's first meeting, so it's a shame that scene isn't more plausible. Margaret, thinking quite rightly that Rhys (the Earl of Dowling) is a fortune hunter, is extremely unpleasant — in Rhys's mind, this equals “a woman of passion and spirit with a sharp, bold wit.” He pretty much falls in love on the spot. After an opening which laid Margaret's physical plainness on very thick, I needed to see more interactions in which Rhys would come to appreciate her and discover her charms.
Similarly, Margaret believes in Rhys's affection quickly; he doesn't have to work hard to win her. Of course he does get the opportunity to prove that he really does want her, not her fortune — the story would be utterly unsatisfying without that.
I enjoyed the secondary characters, particularly Margaret's troubled brother, and was disappointed to discover that this novella is apparently more a side note to the series than a true beginning, much as The Wicked House of Rohan by Anne Stuart was.
My overall impression of “I Love the Earl”: pleasant, but shallow. I give it a C.