Thursday, November 22, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Earl to the Rescue by Jane Ashford

I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

Interestingly, as I started to read Earl to the Rescue by Jane Ashford, I noticed it is a re-release of the 1980 novel titled Gwendeline. Whether this explains the less-steamy nature of the novel or whether the author generally prefers to shy away from more explicit sex in her books, this is a refreshingly sweet Regency Romance despite some dark undertones and a tendency toward melodrama.

Gwendeline Gregory is a recently orphaned eighteen-year-old gentlewoman whose father gambled away the family resources and whose mother’s reputation was no better. Gwendeline hardly knew her parents since they buried her away on a country estate while giving themselves over to a hedonistic lifestyle. They died in a carriage accident, leaving her with nothing.

Despite an inborn resilience and stubbornness, as well as a conspicuous beauty, Gwendeline has nothing to fall back on and she’s beginning to despair. The estate is just days from being sold off to pay creditors. Then Alex St. Audley, Earl of Merryn, pays a call.

The earl is young, wealthy, strikingly handsome, and possesses a forceful personality. He introduces himself as a friend of her parents. He’d come to take over care of the daughter of these friends, having just learned she existed. However, he was expecting a young child. He has to adapt his plans on the fly. Although Gwendeline initially resists being managed, she has no other choice. She finds herself carted off to London to be housed and brought into society by the earl’s mother.

Gwendeline adapts well to the ton. She’s beautiful, charming and intelligent. She is befriended by another debutante and hires an ex-governess to be a companion in the townhouse provided to her by the earl and a concerned group of her father’s old friends. Yet the earl’s story doesn’t quite add up. She can’t find out who these other friends are. It is shockingly unacceptable for her to be "kept" by the earl alone. And people drop references to her parents that make her aware that they were even worse than she’d realized. Most disturbingly, she is stalked by a "friend" of her mother, whose interest in her is blatantly unsavory.

All the while, the earl pops in and out of her life, always seeming to be present when she needs a helping hand, but mostly keeping his distance. She is intrigued by him, though frustrated by the suspicion he is hiding something.

Eventually, all the old secrets come to light, but not before she is abducted, twice, and rescued each time by the earl. Of course she has fallen in love with him, but doesn’t understand that he has also fallen in love with her.

Gwendeline pulls off the feat of being naive, yet smart. The earl is controlling, yet not quite arrogant. The antagonist is chilling and convincingly evil. The remaining supporting characters are entertaining. I’m glad Sourcebooks brought this novel back for Romance fans to enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment