Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh

From the Back Cover:

Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?

Daniel has secrets, and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.

But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever. 

My Thoughts:

I'm not likely to pick up a new Regency these days unless there's something very different about it, and when I read the description of Forever Your Earl, it immediately went on my list. Of course I was drawn to a historical heroine who publishes her own newspaper!

Business is booming for Eleanor Hawke, thanks in no small part to the Earl of Ashford, whose society antics printed in her pages have readers clamoring for more. Some may dismiss The Hawk's Eye as rubbish, but Eleanor believes in giving the lower classes entertainment, and if exposing the vices and ugly side of upper society helps convince them to live a more moral life, then so much the better. But she never expects her paper's number one subject to storm into her office demanding to speak to the publisher, much less bearing a proposition she can't turn down.

Daniel Balfour is used to being the topic of conversation, but The Hawk's Eye manages to get too close to too many truths, including one he's desperately trying to keep out of the public spotlight. Expecting to be able to reason with a man of business, he is stunned to discover that publisher E. Hawke is actually a woman, and a sharp, no-nonsense, beautiful one at that. Forced to abruptly change tactics, he offers to give Eleanor the scoop of a lifetime by letting her chronicle his exploits firsthand. An exclusive series with London's most notorious rake will take her paper to the next level. And Daniel figures he'll be able to keep her so preoccupied with his after-dark activities that she won't have time to ferret out his secret.

But of course, things don't go quite as planned. While showing Eleanor the lifestyle of the rich and famous, he begins to realize how empty his pursuit of pleasure has been and how much he longs for a woman like Eleanor to share his life with. And Eleanor begins to see how much pressure a man like Daniel is under and that there is far more to him than she ever expected, but what is he still hiding from her? Can a privileged earl and a working-class woman come together to form a partnership the likes of which London has never before seen? Or will their differences and secrets prove to be too much to overcome?

This was my first experience with this author, who has more than a dozen novels under her belt as Zoe Archer, and I will definitely be reading more. It was so much fun to follow Daniel and Eleanor on their adventures. This story is filled with sparkling dialogue and wit, the characters are well developed and compelling, and the sexual tension sizzles. I only have one real complaint, but unfortunately it's an all-encompassing one, and that is that the book is overly wordy and heavy on inner monologues that grow repetitive. It bogs the story down, and I found myself skimming to get back to the action.

But I really enjoyed the story itself. Eleanor is a unique and engaging heroine. I'm not sure how plausible she is for the time period, but she sure is fun to read about. Though it's not all fun and games. The story does bring to light some of the failings and injustices lying beneath the wealthy, polished veneer of Regency high society, and Daniel does come to question many aspects of the disparity between the classes and what he can do to amend that. I loved the depiction of Eleanor's friendship with another female writer, and I adore the premise for this series, The Wicked Quills of London, which will each feature a woman who makes her living with her pen. I am very much looking forward to book two, Scandal Takes the Stage, which will feature two intriguing characters introduced in Forever Your Earl. A good start to a unique series!

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

*This review was originally posted to Romantic Historical Reviews.

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