Earls Just Want to Have Fun

Earls Just Want to Have Fun

4.6 43
by Shana Galen
     
 

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A 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romance!

Catapulted from the seedy underbelly of London's slums
To the treacherous glamour of the ton

Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother ropes him into an investigation of the fiercely beautiful thief who is believed to be the lost daughter of the

Overview

A 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romance!

Catapulted from the seedy underbelly of London's slums
To the treacherous glamour of the ton

Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother ropes him into an investigation of the fiercely beautiful thief who is believed to be the lost daughter of the Marquess of Lyndon. He teaches her how to navigate the dangerous waters of the ton, but Marlowe will not escape her past so easily. Instead, Max is drawn into London's underworld, where the student becomes the teacher and love is the greatest risk of all.

Suspenseful and passionate, Earls Just Want to Have Fun is a captivating historical romance. Fans of Julia Quinn, Sabrina Jeffries, and Elizabeth Boyle will love this story that combines action and mystery with enchanting romance.

Covent Garden Cubs Series:
Earls Just Want to Have Fun (Book 1)
The Rogue You Know (Book 2)
I Kissed a Rogue (Book 3)

What readers are saying about Earls Just Want to Have Fun
"Just the right amount of mystery, adventure and attraction to draw you in and keep you satisfied."
"A fast-paced, well-written story with characters that you can't help but fall in love with."
"A tale of adventure, passion, danger and fascinating twists and turns that will enthrall you completely. Entertainment and laughter on every page. A PURE DELIGHT!!"
"I didn't just like this book, I ADORED it!"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/15/2014
Galen (Love and Let Spy) launches her latest Regency series with a pleasant but predictable story spiced with a touch of social conscience. Marlowe is the best pickpocket of the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of young thieves under the thumb of the ruthless Satin. Cold, hunger, and the threat of prison are the only life Marlowe’s ever known, but when she learns that she might be the missing Lady Elizabeth Grafton, she dares to believe she could escape the slums. Maxwell Derring, Earl of Dane, is unhappy about being the keeper for his brother’s latest find, no matter how intriguing she is under all that grime. Still, within a few days their spark is undeniable, and Maxwell finds he’s willing to risk his own life to free Marlowe from Satin’s grip even if she isn’t a marquess’s daughter. Good chemistry, solid writing, and an interesting plot are all present, but the stakes never get high enough to build tension. Agent: Joanna MacKenzie, Browne and Miller Literary Associates. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Ms. Galen's accuracy of language is nothing short of stunning, her prose is luminous and lush, and her meticulous attention to detail enhances an already smashing story: Earls Just Want To Have Fun is not to be missed!" - Fresh Fiction

"The first installment of the Covent Garden Cubs series is pure Galen: a lively pace, wonderful repartee, colorful dialogue, a marvelous cast of characters and, most of all, emotional depth with just enough humor to make you smile and cry." - RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars, TOP PICK!

"Devilishly entertaining...one of the best romances I have read in a very long time." - Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick!

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402298714
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
02/03/2015
Series:
Covent Garden Cubs Series , #1
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
221,073
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

One

She was five. She liked being five because it meant she could hold up every finger on her hand and spread them wide when an adult asked her age. Adults always asked how old she was and her name. Sometimes they asked her favorite color. Those were easy questions. Her name was Elizabeth, and her favorite color was pink.

She liked candied violets and puppies and hated bedtime and her nanny. Nanny always made her stand up straight and keep her dress clean and brush her hair. Elizabeth had long light brown hair, and it tangled. She had to brush it three times a day. At least. Nanny asked difficult questions. She asked Elizabeth to spell her name. Elizabeth had once told Mama that she wished she had a name like Jane, which was Nanny's name, because Elizabeth was too long.

Mama had laughed. Mama was always laughing, and Elizabeth wished she could be with Mama all the time and never have to see Nanny. But Mama and Papa had to go to the Season. That meant they dressed in clothes Elizabeth could not touch unless her hands were scrubbed clean, and they stayed up very late and slept all day. Elizabeth had to be so quiet.

She hated being quiet almost as much as she hated bedtime with Nanny, who yelled if Elizabeth didn't stay in bed or if she chattered too much. Elizabeth loved it when Mama tucked her in, because Mama always sang her lullabies. Elizabeth's favorite began "Lavender's blue," but Mama changed the words.

Elizabeth's true, dilly, dilly,

Elizabeth's sweet.

A kiss I will give, dilly, dilly,

When next we meet.

Mama was not with her today. Today was sunny and warm, and Nanny had taken her to the park. Elizabeth was so happy. She could run-if Nanny wasn't looking-and twirl and dance and pick wildflowers for Mama. Nanny had scolded her earlier for muddying her pinafore, but Elizabeth did not see how that could be avoided when everything that was interesting was either beside the mud or in it.

Elizabeth bent over to examine a pretty pink flower and jumped when a ball rolled to a stop at her feet. She looked up, searching for the owner of the ball. A boy, just about her age, waved at her and said, "Kick it back!"

Elizabeth blinked and glanced over her shoulder at Nanny. But Nanny was not watching her. Nanny was speaking to a man Elizabeth did not recognize. Nanny was also smiling and blinking a lot. Elizabeth wondered if her nanny had something in her eyes.

"Kick it!" the boy called again.

Elizabeth wanted to kick the ball, but she was not certain whether Nanny would approve. Of course, Nanny was not watching her at the moment. With a last furtive glance over her shoulder, Elizabeth kicked the ball. It sailed over the grass and down a small hill. The boy let out a whoop and chased after it. "Come on!" he called with a wave. He looked like he was having so much fun that Elizabeth followed. He kicked the ball, then let her have another turn. Then it was his turn, then hers again. Elizabeth was laughing and running and wishing the game would never end. She wondered if Nanny saw how much fun she was having, but when she turned, she did not see Nanny. She did not see anything that looked familiar. She was still in the park, but she'd run far away from the path where Nanny and the other people had been enjoying the day.

"Come on!" the boy yelled, kicking the ball again.

Elizabeth shook her head. "I can't. I have to find my nanny." She looked left and then right and frowned. She didn't know which way to go. Her lip trembled, and she felt the sting of tears in her eyes.

Suddenly a man stepped out from behind a tree. The boy seemed to know him and went to him immediately, but the man ignored him. "Don't cry, little girl," he said. "I'll help you find your nanny." He held out his hand, and Elizabeth stepped forward. She looked up at the man and hesitated. His eyes were small and odd-one blue and one green-his teeth were sharp and crooked, and despite his fine clothing, his black hair hung in long and stringy clumps. He smiled, but his eyes did not smile like his mouth. Wordlessly, Elizabeth shook her head and backed away.

"Where are you going, little girl?"

She shook her head and turned to run just as his hands caught her about the waist.

***

Marlowe watched Gap stroll down Piccadilly as though he hadn't a care in the world. That wasn't as easy as it looked. Piccadilly was so crowded, even the largest of men were likely to be jostled. And the noise. Everyone was talking at once, trying to be heard over the calls of postboys and peddlers of every sort. Gap looked at home, which he was. Hands in his pockets, he whistled a tune through the gap in his teeth and appeared to stroll aimlessly. Men and women kept a watchful eye on him. He looked every inch the pickpocket ready to dive for the first easy bubble he spotted.

That was why Gap didn't dive.

As he neared the corner where she stood, alternately pretending to watch a gentleman have his boots shined and study the printed bills that covered every available wall or scaffold, Marlowe tucked an errant strand of hair into her cap. She'd bound her breasts so tightly she could barely breathe. She had slim hips and legs, but her long hair and her ample bosom would betray her if she were not careful. There was nothing to do about her chest, but she wished Satin would allow her to cut her hair. He wanted her to keep it for some of their better-rackets.

She watched as Gap gave her the signal, tipping his hat to show her the bubble. Marlowe could dive as well as any of the gang, better than most because she practiced so often. She had the gift of manipulating her speech so she sounded much more cultured than she was. That and her sweet face meant the gentry trusted her. They thought she was one of their own, or not too far beneath them. They never suspected one of their own.

With a tap on the brim of her cap, she indicated she saw the bubble and approved. He was a tall man with broad shoulders and neat blondish-brown hair under his brushed beaver hat. He looked wealthy but not foolish, and she hesitated momentarily, wondering what Gap had been thinking. This was not their usual, easy game. He must have waved some blunt to attract Gap's attention. And if there was blunt to be had, she had better bring it back to the flash ken. She didn't relish another of Satin's punishments.

She turned away from the boot boy and his gentleman, timing her movements perfectly. By the time she stepped into the crowd of people moving alongside Piccadilly, she was almost upon him. His eyes, a sharp, clear blue, met hers, and she had a moment to think this is a mistake. But it was too late, because she'd already collided with him, and her nimble hands had done their work.

She had his blunt in her hand by the time she stepped back and bowed to him. "Terribly sorry, sir. Pardon my clumsiness." While one hand stuffed the pounds in her coat pocket, the other tipped her cap genially. Now was his turn to say think nothing of it, my fine lad. Then they would both go on their way.

But he didn't say his line. In fact, he didn't even look at her hand tipping her cap. His gaze arrowed directly down to the hand stuffing pounds in her pocket, and his lips curled in a smile. "Good day, Elizabeth. I've been waiting for you."

***

She ducked into the flash ken with a curse on her lips. She was late, and Satin would have her hide. Strangely enough, that was the least of her worries at the moment. For once, she had bigger problems than Satin, and he was generally a rather substantial problem.

"Ye're late," Satin sneered from the corner of the large room the gang gathered in to eat and socialize. He was gnawing on a greasy chicken leg, his black hair hanging down about his face.

"Sorry."

"Gap said you got nabbed."

She shook her head with a quick look at Gap. Snitch. He'd be sorry later. "No. I took the long way back. I have the blunt." She approached Satin warily and dumped the pile of blunt into the hat between his feet. She felt more than saw the necks of the other boys crane to get a look at her haul. It was impressive, but she didn't pause to bask in Satin's praise. She wanted to escape his attention as quickly as possible. She wanted to be alone, but she couldn't disappear too soon.

Gideon sat to Satin's right, and when she glanced at him, she saw the flicker of a question in his eyes. He knew something was wrong. She prayed Satin didn't.

Satin nodded and grunted then glanced up at her. "That all of it?"

"Yes." She turned out her pockets and dropped her empty purse on the floor. For once she was telling the truth. She hadn't held anything back.

"Good. Go change. You're working the better-racket tonight."

"What? Why?"

His black gaze shot up to her face, and she shut her mouth.

"Because I said so. Need another reason?"

She shook her head.

"Good. I'm sure Gid here will be glad to have you." He nodded at Gideon, whose face remained expressionless.

Marlowe didn't dally. She knew better than that. She went to her room, which was nothing more than a curtained-off space in the room adjoining the main room. It was cold in the back, and she could see through the gaps in the wood to the world outside the building. When it rained, the roof leaked, and everything and everyone got wet. She was the only girl among the group, except for a couple of prostitutes Satin sometimes used for a racket or other. Because she was the only girl, and expected to have some feminine clothing for games like the one tonight, she also had a small trunk. She closed her curtain and opened the trunk, wiping her hands on her trousers to make sure they were clean. She didn't want to soil the muslin of the dress.

Marlowe hated dressing like a girl. She hated it because it was uncomfortable, and she hated it because the other cubs looked at her differently. She worked hard to be one of them. She talked like them, dressed like them, spat like them. She didn't want them to think of her as a girl-not only because it might give them ideas, but because she wanted to fit in. She wanted to be one of the Covent Garden Cubs, as they called their gang. It was the best gang in London, if anyone asked her.

But today had proved she didn't fit in. That bubble had called her Elizabeth. She wasn't Elizabeth. She tried to tell him, but he knew she was lying. She was usually a good liar, but she'd been taken off guard. The bubble should have been pleased. She was never taken off guard.

"Marlowe?" a quiet voice asked from the other side of the curtain.

She jumped. "Almost ready." She wasn't almost ready, and she stripped the men's clothing off quickly, pulling on a shift and digging in the chest for a petti-coat, stays, and shoes. She was Marlowe, she told herself. That was her name. Not Elizabeth. That was a fantasy she'd conjured to soothe herself after one of Satin's beatings or when she'd been a new cub and was cold and scared.

She wasn't a cub anymore. She was twenty. And she was Marlowe. She shrugged the stays on, struggled with them for a moment, then gave up. "Is Barbara here?" she asked, knowing Gideon was still waiting for her on the other side of the curtain.

"No. She brought dinner and went back. Should I get her?"

Barbara was the wife of the owner of the Rouge Unicorn Cellar, a public house across the street in the cubs' little corner of Seven Dials. Satin had some sort of arrangement with the couple. Marlowe suspected Satin had promised he wouldn't rob the place if Barbara provided a hot meal once a day and cleaned up after the cubs. Barbara also helped Marlowe dress on the rare occasions she needed to look like a lady. But Gideon knew how to dress a woman too. He'd undressed enough of them, she thought.

"No, don't bother," Marlowe said, opening the curtain. She knew Gideon wanted to be on his way. And Marlowe didn't care one way or another whether Gideon fastened her stays. He was more her friend than a man. They'd kissed a few times, when they'd been a bit younger, but neither had felt anything. There was no spark-not that Marlowe knew what a spark felt like, but Gideon said he did, and the two of them didn't have it. That was probably a good thing, since Satin would kill both Marlowe and Gideon if they started sneaking around to make the beast with two backs.

Gideon stepped inside, and she turned. When he didn't begin right away, she looked over her shoulder. He gestured to her chest. "You should probably unbind them first."

She looked down at her all-but-flat chest under the shift. "Right." The shift was loose, and she simply let it drop down to her elbows until she could untie the knot in the bindings. Then she began unwrapping the band of material, which was an arduous task, because there was so much of it. As soon as she'd unwound it a few turns, her breasts began to ache as the blood rushed back into them. She hated their heavy feeling and how they got in the way. She glanced at Gideon and noted he had looked the other way. "Gideon," she said, "you like bubbies well enough."

He laughed and shook his head, still not looking at her. She plucked at one dark nipple. "What makes you so daft over them? I think they're a nuisance."

"Marlowe, I'm not having this conversation with you right now. Pull up your shift and turn around."

She did as he bade her, slipping the stays back on. With deft movements, he laced the back. They pushed her breasts up more than was comfortable, and she sighed, knowing she would be exposed for hours to come.

Interesting that Gideon didn't want to look at her breasts and offer an opinion. She'd seen his noodle. She didn't have much to say about it except that it looked like all the rest she'd seen. She supposed Gideon was trying to act like a gentleman. She didn't know why, when she was no lady.

Gideon finished lacing, and she tied the petticoats on and pulled the dress over her head. Gideon had to help her with the ties and pins on that too. And then there were shoes and her hair, and she'd forgotten to tie her bloody pockets on. She needed them for her knife. Finally, she was ready. What an awful ordeal!

Marlowe stepped out of the curtain and walked back to the main room. Gideon and his cubs were ready-Tiny, Stub, and Joe. Tiny and Stub were young but quick. Joe was fast, and sometimes Satin called him Racer. Joe would stand lookout and race to tell them if they'd been discovered. It was her task to ensure the boys were not discovered.

When she stepped into the common room, every pair of eyes fastened on her. Not on her, exactly, but on her bubbies. This was why she hated dressing like a girl. The boys forgot she could give them a black eye, and started slobbering over her female parts. Marlowe put her hands on her hips. "What are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen bubbies before?"

Some of the boys looked down, but a few grinned at her. One was a cub who'd joined the gang a few years after she had. She didn't know his real name, but he went by Beezle. He was almost as tall as Gideon, and he was strong. Marlowe wasn't certain she could beat him in a brawl. The bawds tended to avoid him, and Marlowe knew he had a reputation for violence. Beezle's gaze stayed on her long after she met his glare straight on. Any other boy would have looked away.

Satin stepped between the two. "Off you go. I want a good haul. I'll meet you at the fencing ken." Gideon handed Marlowe a large burlap sack, and the four cronies stepped outside.

Seven Dials came alive at night. In daylight, it sometimes appeared the sole haunt of the lowest prostitutes and invalids who stooped in every doorway. The bawdy houses and taverns were shuttered and dark, though the gin shops were always open and filled with drunks. In the weak daylight, children and maimed soldiers who were out and about slinked by or crouched in corners, forgotten and forlorn, with their hands out. But darkness had descended now, and with it every man, woman, or child who thrived in the shadows. The streets were crowded, with men and women spilling out of brightly lit public houses. Marlowe watched gentlemen from Mayfair stumble about drunkenly. They would be easy pickings.

"We'll make more on the better-racket," Gideon said, tucking the bess under his coat. He'd use the tool to force the house's door open. He walked beside her, almost protectively. She drew more attention in the dress than she liked. She nodded at the truth of his statement. Besides, she was in no hurry to encounter any more gentlemen tonight. She hadn't forgotten her run-in with the man who called himself Sir Brook. Now she found herself studying every swell they passed, worried it might be he. But he'd said she could come to him. He'd told her where his office was located. Actually, he'd tried to give her his card. Was the man a fool? She couldn't take his card. What if Satin found it?

"You know how this works," Gideon said now as they moved toward the sundial, marking the entrance to Seven Dials. It also marked their exit. Marlowe focused on Gideon's words, rather than think about the events of the afternoon. She couldn't afford to be distracted.

"Marlowe will knock on the door and spill her tale." He handed her a sheet of parchment. She opened it and sighed. She could pick out a few words and saw this was the shipwreck cock-and-bull. She'd used it a hundred times. The paper was a forged passport for Theodosia Buckley. She'd show it to make her story seem more credible. She'd ask for money so she could take the post back home to Shropshire. She probably wouldn't get much blunt, if any, but that wasn't the point. While she detained the owners of the house, Gideon, Stub, and Tiny would gut the place. Joe would stand guard in case the Watch or a carriage passed by. The boys would check all clear before they climbed back out the windows, and when she heard Joe's signal, she'd finish her Banbury tale and meet at the rendezvous.

"Where is the rendezvous?" she asked when Gideon had finished going over the boys' jobs. They all knew what to do, but Gideon liked to make sure everyone was prepared.

"The house is in Cheapside, near a bookstore," Gideon told her. "We meet there. I'll point it out when we pass."

They passed out of Seven Dials, and Gideon suggested they split into two or three groups. A gang of five might look suspicious. Marlowe moved toward Tiny. Usually she walked with the smallest boy because people often thought they were mother and son, but Gideon put his hand on her arm. "Walk with me." He tucked her arm in his, and the two strolled ahead as though they were lovers out for a walk. When they'd left the boys behind, Gideon said, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she said quickly.

"Marlowe, I know you. What's wrong?"

She bit the pad of her thumb. Of course she hadn't been able to hide anything from Gideon. "Gap and I were doing a dive on Piccadilly. Gap picked a bubble, and when I bumped into the game, he grabbed me and called me Elizabeth." She whispered the name, though she knew no one could hear her.

"You looked like someone he knows," Gideon suggested.

Marlowe shook her head. "I was dressed like a boy, but even if he'd seen through my disguise, he was looking for me. He told me he'd been waiting."

"But Gap picked him."

"I know." The inspector must have been watching them for several days, noting their movements. It troubled her, but not as much as what he'd said when he'd pulled her into a private doorway. "He said my parents hired him to find me. They want me to come home."

"Satin said-"

"I know what Satin said. He found me lost and abandoned in a park. He saved me." But if that was true, why did she remember being loved, being happy? Satin had said she hadn't known her name, probably hadn't been given one. He claimed she was the daughter of a bunter-a half beggar, half whore. But she remembered a mother who was soft and smelled sweet. She remembered she'd been sung to and cradled and called Elizabeth.

As though he'd read her mind, Gideon said, "Are those memories or..." He trailed off, and she filled in the rest. She'd often wondered herself if her remembrances were just wishful thinking. But if they were just fantasies, how did she know that dilly, dilly lullaby? It wasn't as though she'd heard it in St. Giles.

"Sir Brook couldn't have known about any of that," she said finally.

"Sir Brook?"

"He said that was his name. He's an investigator."

"Bow Street? Marlowe, either he's trying to crimp you, or this is some sort of new rig." He sped up. "That's the bookstore."

They ducked into the doorway, and Marlowe realized the conversation was over. Gideon was probably right. After all, how likely was it that she was the daughter of a great rum mort? More likely, she was the by-blow of a bunter. Brook had set up some sort of rig, and she was the bubble. But if it was a game, it was a good one. He'd even known when to walk away. He'd caught her attention and then told her to come to him if she was interested in meeting her parents. And then he'd walked away, leaving her standing on Piccadilly with her mouth hanging open. He hadn't even asked for his blunt back.

"So what are you going to do?" Gideon asked as they waited for the boys to join them.

"Nothing," she said. She hadn't exactly decided, but if she told Gideon she was considering Sir Brook's offer, he'd give her a long lecture about what a bad idea that was. And Gideon would be right. As Satin liked to point out, he spent a lot of time and effort training her and the other cubs. He'd fed them, clothed them, sheltered them. He took it personally when one of his cubs ran away. Few did so more than once. And if a boy did run away again, he was likely to be found floating in the Thames.

Marlowe had only ever tried to run away once, when she was about twelve. For her pains, Satin had beaten her to within an inch of her life. As she'd lain there, bleeding and crying, he'd leaned close to her ear and said, "I will never let you go, Marlowe. You're too valuable to me. I'd rather you were dead than free."

"Satin will never let me go," she said.

"He has plans for you," Gideon said without looking at her. He'd shoved his hands in his pockets and looked as if he didn't care what Satin planned, but Marlowe had a feeling Gideon didn't approve. "A big racket. He'll have to cut line without you, and he's invested too much for that."

Marlowe suspected Satin was saving her for a big racket. She'd seen him whispering with Beezle on several occasions. Once or twice, they'd glanced her way. It was no surprise. She was the best thief the Covent Street Cubs had. But the better the suit, the more likely she'd be caught and thrown in Kings Head Inn. Newgate was not where she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

Neither did she want to spend it bilking for Satin. But what would she say to her parents now? If they had the blunt to hire a nob like Sir Brook, they were rich-by her standards, at any rate. They'd take one look at her and tell her to get out. At least she was wanted and needed by the Covent Garden Cubs.

"Here they come," Gideon said, alerting her to the boys' arrival. "You ready, Marlowe?"

"Always." And she meant it. She put away thoughts of mothers and fathers. She couldn't afford to feel mushy inside or worry whether someone would love her or not. If this racket produced only dead cargo, she'd have a lot more to worry about than whether lovebirds sang in the trees or if Mommy would tuck her in at night.

She straightened her shoulders, gave a nod to Gideon and the boys, then went around the house they'd be robbing. She gave them a moment to get in position before crossing the street and starting up the walk. She heard the clop of horse hooves on the street behind her, but it wasn't unusual for people to be out and about this time of evening. She glanced back at Joe, who stood in the shadows on the corner, and he gave her the all clear. Just a carriage passing by. Nothing to concern her. There was nothing wrong with knocking on someone's door, and that was all the carriage's occupants would see her do.

She started up the steps, and too late spotted a movement from the servants' steps leading to the basement below. Before she could react, a man grabbed her, lifted her as though she were a sack of potatoes, and threw her over his shoulder. She fought and she screamed, but for all her clawing and scratching and punching, he held on. Joe was coming for her, and she screamed for him. He'd save her. If not Joe, Gideon. She would not be spirited away like this. She was certain of that.

And then she was shoved into a carriage, and a sack pulled over her head. Darkness descended.

Meet the Author

Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers' Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, "The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun," and RT Book Reviews calls her books "lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching." She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city. Now she writes full time. She's happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she's up to daily on Facebook and Twitter. Stop by her website at shanagalen.com.

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Earls Just Want to Have Fun 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 43 reviews.
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is book 1 in the Covent Garden Cubs. Marlowe is startled to have the person she just pickpocketed suddenly tell her that he has been looking for her and call her Elizabeth. It's only the rare times when she is alone that she thinks of her time as Elizabeth. Days later, while on a job, she is snatched off the street and thrown into a carriage. Maxwell, Lord Dane, can't believe that his brother, a bow street runner, talked him into helping him kidnapping this hellion. When his brother runs off on another case, Maxwell is left to deal with Marlowe himself. He can't believe that his brother believes that this pickpocket could be Lady Elizabeth. After an interesting several days, Marlowe decides to stay with Maxwell and learn if she is truely Lady Elizabeth. But her real decision is whether to give in to the attraction she feels for Maxwell knowing that she would never be more to him than a short fling Loved this story and can't wait for the rest of the series!! Galen is one of my favorite authors and really knows how to keep me intrigued with the characters. With this new series, she takes us away for the glittering ballrooms and into a side of London not normally written about in historical romance.  I really liked Marlowe. She was obviously not your typical heroine having grown up in the Seven Dials, one of the worst parts of London. Her colorful language had me laughing out loud. She was the opposite of any debutant and that made the story so much more interesting. Maxwell comes off as a snob at the beginning of the story, but we see him grow as a person as he gets to know Marlowe. She gets him to see the reality of what is happening in the poorer parts of London and he changes his tune by the end of the story. I really liked Maxwell's sister Susanna and Marlowe's friend Gideon and hope that Galen give each of them their own story (maybe pair them up...). Thanks go out to Sourcebooks via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
alterlisa More than 1 year ago
This was such a fun read. Marlowe had me cracking up every time she opened her mouth. She definitely had the mouth of a sailor on her. I loved seeing the life of a pickpocket in great detail and the Eliza Doolittle twist was very entertaining too. One of the things I enjoyed most was the mystery suspense coupled with the historical romance  and the laugh out loud moments in the book. It was a real treat to read and I must say it kept me up all night until I'd finished it.
BookAngelBlog More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adored this book. I can't say enough good things! I haven't read a Regency romance in forever and randomly decided to read this one. By the end it reminded me why I love Regency romances.  Marlowe/Elizabeth was wonderful. I loved her spunk and that she didn't put up with Dane's pompousness (not sure that's a word, but it fits). She cared so much for everyone and was overall just a fun and lovely heroine. Lord Dane was a great hero. He was more proper and lordy that the usual hero's for historical romance, but I liked it. Sometimes I hate when authors do that, but as usual Shana Galen did a wonderful job not only writing Dane that way, but fitting the story together. There is a undertone of danger in parts of the novel. It had just enough to keep everything intriguing. Plus I love undertones of danger in historical fiction! There wasn't a lot of it, but just the right amount.  The secondary characters of Dane's brother and Marlowe's good friend were both very interesting. I liked the focus on them and I hope that those two come up in the future.  I have never been disappointed by Shana Galen and this novel was no exception! 
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
Earls Just Want to Have Fun was a lovely historical romance. Sweet and with a delightful couple of characters, it was a fantastic read and I really liked it. Marlowe was a great heroine. She was definitely different than the mold, having been raised on the streets as a thief. She was clever, tough, and unimpressed by wealth and titles. She was definitely a fun heroine, with her entertaining reactions to the life of the aristocracy. I thought she was lovely. Dane was, to be honest, totally stuffy and pompous at first. But, over the course of the book, Marlowe's influence opened his eyes to the realities of the world. He loosened up and became a more accepting type of person. And, through it all, he was always a kind, honorable man who had his sweet moments. He was a wonderful hero. The romance was lovely. Marlowe and Dane were an odd couple, with their different backgrounds, but they were perfectly matched. And, they definitely had a ton of chemistry that turned the heat up. They were great together. The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. The story was fantastic and the ending was perfect. Earls Just Want to Have Fun was a delightful romance that I really liked. It was a charming, fun, and very sweet read. Romance lovers, this is a book you won't want to miss. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
KathyL2059 More than 1 year ago
I love books where the lead characters change for the better. Dane does a complete 180 in this book, and it is so enjoyable to watch him learn that right and wrong are not always so cut and dried. Marlowe opens his eyes to the terrible life that some people face day after day in the slums of London, and she learns that not all aristocrats are cold and uncaring. The ending (which I will not divulge) is so tender and sweet that it actually made me cry. I always get a little glassy-eyed at happy endings, but there were actual tears. The Viscount of Vice is the prequel to this series, and I can recommend that as well. Both stories can be read separately, but they are both really rewarding reads.
def618 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. I had to order it as my B&N didn't have it on release day! I thought this was well written with a good plot. I do not write spoilers but I think you will enjoy it.
SuzieQSK More than 1 year ago
Maxwell, Lord Dane believes that the poor deserve their fate. They are dirty, lazy, uneducated, and immoral. But when Max is forced to deal with the very type of person he despises, his life will never be the same. Will Max help Marlowe break free from a life of crime? Is she really the long lost aristocrat Lady Elizabeth Lyndon? I highly recommend that you read EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN to find out. The first half was light hearted with great chemistry and funny banter. But in the second half Shana Galen's story turns dark and dangerous. I loved this book!
gaele More than 1 year ago
I love my historic romances that show the clash of class divisions, and all too rarely the upper echelon never deigns to or acknowledges  the denizens of the lowest rungs in society’s ladder. While mentions of Whitechapel or the Seven Dials are made as areas ‘too dangerous’ to contemplate, rarely do we see characters that are surviving the various dangers of neighborhoods deemed too deadly and treacherous for any law or order to reach. Shana Galen has brought a taste of the Seven Dials to light in this story.  Marlowe is a member of the Covent Garden Cubs, a group of young thieves, pickpockets and others, struggling to survive in the dangerous world: banding together for safety and security. While not in any way an ideal life, Marlowe has managed to become something of a legend to the others, with her skills and talent.  Far from the life she could imagine, Marlowe claims to know nothing else, but occasionally she remembers moments of a quiet, cared for life when she was always well fed, warm and comfortable.  Brook Derring is a bow street runner, searching out the case of a missing child, the daughter of the Marquess of London.  While wanting to keep tabs on this girl, he also has other cases and issues to attend to. And the life of a Bow Street runner, no matter what his origins, are not exactly perfect for keeping the girl.  So he turns to his elder brother, Maxwell, Lord Dane to ‘reacquaint’ the chit to the finer things  in life while he continues to unearth her true origins.  What a fun concept, and an interesting choice of characters. Marlowe is headstrong, independent and utterly self-assured in her current life, but the one being offered her and her trials and errors of navigating society and the affluence that may be in her grasp are wonderfully written.  And Maxwell comes to learn and change his long-held beliefs about the ‘poor’ and the people of the Seven Dials, learning that choice isn’t always afforded everyone in London.   Their chemistry is fairly bouncing off the pages, from Maxwell’s snobbery to Marlowe’s unwillingness to be seen as less than capable or worthy of notice the animosity slowly changes for a grudging admiration that eventually develops into more.  Both are being treated to  the slights, prejudices and hastily arrived at opinions of their respective positons in society, and they are both learning to be more open, accepting and aware of difficulties that each group faces.  Pacing and development worked beautifully to bring these characters around and allow them to grow and change as their relationship morphed from animosity to more.  With world-building and descriptions that capture the areas as well as they contrast and then become more “real’ to each character.  A fun, captivating and satisfying read. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
PansyPetal More than 1 year ago
This was a bit of a different, though fun, historical romance.  I have to begin by giving the author kudos for, what appears to me to be, authentic cockney speak without actually trying to spell out the dialect.  She used only terminology.  It was wonderful and kept me engaged in the story.   What do I mean?  Okay, this story introduces a “gang” of street kids who live near the famed Covent Garden.  They have a language almost their own.  Words like “bubble,”  “racket,” “flash ken,” “bubbies,” (one of my favorites) just to mention a few.  The context in which they are used usually explains what the word means, but, if not, it is explained as one continues to read.  It adds to the story to realize, and hear, the cockney accent without having to wade through a painful attempt by the author to write the accent.  I enjoyed it.   Back to this “gang” of street kids – one of them, known as Marlowe, is actually a young woman who was kidnapped as a young girl and raised to this life.  She has little to no memory of her former life and does what she must to survive in this harsh world of the streets.  Suddenly, she finds herself in the world of the “swells” and forced to take a bath.  She is sure she is going to get sick.  She doesn’t trust anyone here and the feeling does seem to be mutual.  But, the food is good and plentiful, the bed is so soft it is like sleeping on a cloud, so why not stick it out for a bit while the “swells” decide if she really is Lady Elizabeth Lyndon. Sir Brook Derring is the “swell” who was hired to find Lady Elizabeth.  He is a younger brother and rather than going into the military or taking the collar as many a younger son, he is an investigator for the Bow Street Runners.  A most unusual occupation for a member of the ton.  But Sir Brook is making it work and is the hero of many a young debutante, much to the chagrin of his older brother, Maxwell Derring, Earl of Dane.   The Earl of Dane is rather rigid in doing his duty as an Earl.  That does not include aking a thief into his home.  It really doesn’t matter that she may have once been a Lady of the realm.  She is now a thief and therefore not his problem.  But he acquiesced to his brother’s wishes until Lord and Lady Lyndon can claim the baggage.   I completely enjoyed watching the omnipotent Earl meet his Waterloo.  Not only does Marlowe completely attract his baser self, but she turns his ideals upside down.  I despaired that there would be a happy ever after.   This was a totally fun and exciting read.  There was suspense, adventure, betrayal, a touch of scandal, and of course, romance.   Everything one could want in a historical romance, but with a bit of a twist.  Well worth the read.   I seemed to have missed the prequel to this series, but I didn’t notice until now, so don’t worry.  The events of the prequel were mentioned, but not really important to this story other than maybe to introduce Sir Brook.  Earls Just Want to Have Fun reads quite well as a stand-alone novel.   I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I need a beutiful intelligent girl to be my gf will you do that for me he says and looks at her lovingly from august
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kudo to Shana Galen for a well researched and intelligently written Regency novel. It was a delight to read her prose and become acquainted with Dane and Marlowe. Wonderfully written and well paced; the character arc is done quite well and comes to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.
Tinalou70 More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. I loved that the heroine wasn't some typical debutante, society miss of a slightly lower class or even a country bumpkin. I liked that the hero had to re-think his ideas on what he deemed as people "deserving of their lot in life" with regards to the poor. Like his brother did, some might question how quickly he did a 180 but sometimes, one really good look or a chance to "see how the other half lives" is all it takes for some people to take the u-turn and hopefully make a change. I agree that there were some holes in the plot but nothing was so far-fetched if you kept an open mind which some people are incapable of doing and just enjoy the story. It's very hard to find an atypical Regency novel these days so I love that Ms. Galen managed to write just that. The characters were interesting (can't wait to read more about the Earl's brother), just enough humor to give me giggles here and there, and the HEA while not a surprise, came faster than I would've liked. It would've been nice to see more of Marlowe's interactions with her long-lost parents before she wed. While I have several books from her, this is the first time I've read her (too many books, too little of me to read). I'm about to keep the momentum going and read the next in the series, The Rogue You Know, and look forward to reading more from Ms. Galen in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously this was a great read. Different than the usual female lead which was what made the book so good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so far fetched and inane I couldn't get past the first 50 pages. Save your money and buy something that might be plausible.
DebDiem More than 1 year ago
Earls Just Want To Have Fun by Shana Galen is a fantastic read. Ms Galen has crafted a well written book. Marlowe and Dane's story is full of drama, action, humor and spice. I enjoyed reading Earls Just Want To Have Fun and look forward to reading more from Shana Galen in the future. Earls Just Want To Have Fun is book 1 of the Covent Garden Cubs Series, but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! A perfect Cinderella story. Cant wait to read the next one!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun read I enjoyed the story
CinnamonGM More than 1 year ago
Strong characters, strong emotions, and in the end, doing the right thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*cocks gun* "Go to he.ll." *shoots James in the hea and everyone else here* *dusts of hands* "I think my work here is done." *walks out*