Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift father offers her at the gaming tables, she is given a difficult choice-wed the Earl of Mainwaring, an infamous gamester with no respect for her skills with the reins, or face charges for the murder of a member of the infamous Lords of Anarchy. Either way she'll have to clear her name. Can she count on her husband's help the way she has begun to count on his kisses?
All Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, wanted was a night of cards. But by the end of the evening he's walked away with a fortune-and a bride who's suspected of murder. Jasper knows Hermione is passionate about her unorthodox membership in the Lords of Anarchy, but he's certain she would never kill to keep it. Can he protect his headstrong wife from prosecution and a ruthless killer without endangering both their hearts in the process?
About the Author
Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.
Read an Excerpt
Good Earl Gone Bad
By Manda Collins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Manda Collins
All rights reserved.
"Damn me, Mainwaring," an aggrieved Mr. Percy Edgerton groused, throwing his cards to the table. "I should have known better than to bring my winning streak to any table that included you as a player."
But Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, had heard it all before. With a shrug, he scooped up his winnings and began methodically counting them into his purse. "You cannot say you weren't warned, Edgerton," he said when he was finished. "By me and others. And it's not as if you cannot afford to lose it."
Percy, the wealthy heir of Viscount Edgerton, persisted in the delusion that he was something of a virtuoso at the tables. From what Jasper could tell, he wasn't all that bad when his opponents were on his level. Hence the earlier winning streak. But the Earl of Mainwaring was accounted to be the most skilled player in the ton and as such had proceeded to annihilate Percy trick by trick until the other man was left with only a few coins on his side of the table.
"Come now, Percy," said the blowsy widow at the young man's shoulder, her rouged lips close to his ear. "I'll have my cook prepare you a nice supper to make up for it."
Despite his winnings, Jasper felt an unaccountable stab of envy. A warm woman and a nice supper sounded damned inviting.
What did he care that a scapegrace like Percy Edgerton was destined for a more comfortable night than his own? Clearly he'd had too much brandy.
It wasn't as if he couldn't find a willing woman if he wanted one. His dark hair and handsome face had served him well with the ladies since he was a halfling. He wasn't a vain man, but he knew that regular bouts at Jackson's and fencing at Angelo's had honed his lean frame into something more than one woman had found pleasing to the eye — and the touch.
But he'd begun to feel bored of late when it came to the practiced wiles of that kind of woman. Perhaps he'd been on the town for too long. Been the recipient of too many come-hither looks and calculated smiles. Or it could very well be that seeing his friend Freddy — Lord Frederick Lisle — settled down with a woman who had more to recommend her than bedroom skills and a fine bosom had given him an itch for something more permanent than the sort of relationships to which he'd become accustomed.
Whatever the reason, he was happy enough to go home alone if it meant avoiding the sort of liaison that would leave him temporarily sated but ultimately empty.
Before he could bid farewell to the unhappy gamester and his mistress, however, the Duke of Trent stepped up beside him.
"I think there's something you should see in the back room," Trent said, his naturally saturnine face even darker than usual.
Why had Trent even come to Mrs. Wallingford's hell tonight? Jasper wondered as he followed the other man through the throng toward the rooms reserved for high-stakes games. Trent never seemed to enjoy himself when he played, and he lost more often than he won.
Even so, years of long friendship had led Mainwaring to accept the other man's presence on such occasions without question. At the very least they could both avoid matchmaking mamas in such establishments, which was a high recommendation in and of itself. And when necessary, the duke did what he could to extricate especially reckless young pups from the clutches of sharps.
"It's not young Lord Dalrymple again, is it?" Jasper asked in a low voice as they wended their way through the crowded card room. "I vow I've stopped his skiff from going over the falls so many times I'm beginning to think he should give his bloody family estate to me."
But Trent shook his head before extending an arm for Mainwaring to precede him through a narrow doorway into a room that was even more crowded than the card room.
When he reached the edge of the crowd nearest the table, he saw at once why Trent had brought him.
"It's a pretty little estate," the Earl of Upperton, Lady Hermione Upperton's father, said, running a finger beneath his cravat. "It's unentailed so it would be yours free and clear, Saintcrow. It's a valid stake."
Earlier that year Jasper and Lady Hermione had been thrown together thanks to the marriage of her dearest friend to his. Though they hadn't always dealt amicably with one another, Jasper had a great deal of admiration for the lady's spirit — and if he were honest, for her sharp wit and shiny dark curls that seemed always to be escaping their pins. He certainly had no wish to see her embarrassed or impoverished by her father's profligate time at the tables.
Before he could speak, however, Upperton's opponent, Lord Saintcrow, a man whom Jasper knew to be a skilled card player, cleared his throat. "I don't know ..." he said, drawing out the last word.
It might have been a ploy to make Upperton add more to his wager, but it might also have been sincere discomfort at the stake the older man offered. Jasper didn't know Saintcrow well enough to say.
But clearly Upperton had been spooked by the other man's reluctance. When Jasper glanced at the pile of IOUs on the table before them, he saw why. The two men had been playing for some time apparently. And like many gamblers before him, at each loss, Upperton had reupped the stakes in order to win back what he'd lost. If he was offering up his unentailed property, the play had been deep indeed.
"My daughter's matched grays," Upperton said, his voice sharp with anxiety. "You know she's renowned for her appreciation of horseflesh. They are worth fifteen hundred at least."
Saintcrow, who had not seemed particularly interested before now, sat up straighter. "The ones I saw her driving in the park last week?"
It was well-known around town that Lord Saintcrow was in the market for a coaching pair, and had even applied to Tattersall's to search out a team for him. But it was an expensive way to acquire horses, and there was no denying that there was a certain allure in the idea of gaining a well-matched set of horses over the course of an evening for a few hundred quid instead of after months and a couple thousand pounds.
Upperton, however, was not so knowledgeable about horses as his daughter was. "I suppose they're the same ones," he said with a shrug. "I haven't seen them myself, but since she got them I've been approached by any number of chaps with offers to buy them."
I'll bet you have, Mainwaring thought with a grimace. Any man of sense would know Upperton was short of the ready and might be eager to sell off any valuable possessions. Even if they didn't, strictly speaking, belong to him. He recalled quite clearly that Hermione had purchased the pair with her own funds since her father — notorious for his objections to her fondness for driving — had refused to buy her a pair with his funds.
Saintcrow, however, had no notion of the horses' true ownership, and his eagerness was apparent in the way he leaned forward at the table. "I'll accept the pair as your wager, my lord. And the Lincolnshire estate."
Jasper exchanged a quick look with Trent. He could, knowing the truth about the horses, speak up, but to declare it openly in front of witnesses would be tantamount to calling Upperton a liar and men had been called out for less. Plus, the scandal would damage Hermione's reputation irrevocably. Something he'd avoid if he could help it.
Once the terms were set, the game itself was short and sweet — at least for Saintcrow, who at the end of play found himself the proud owner of a pair of finely matched grays, named as Jasper had heard Hermione say, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, because their original owner had been fond of Shakespeare. He only hoped that the end of this particular drama was happier than that of Hamlet.
"You may collect the horses at your convenience, Saintcrow," Upperton said with a shrug, indicating that the loss of his daughter's prized possessions was not of particular interest to him. "Though I must insist you give me the opportunity to win back my losses sometime soon. That estate has been in my wife's family for generations."
"Clearly it is weighing heavily on you, my lord," Jasper said with irony as the earl rose from his place at the table.
He would have pulled Hermione's father aside to chastise him in private, but was forestalled by the appearance of Upperton's mistress, the widowed Countess of Amberly.
"Have you been a naughty boy, Upperton?" she purred, slipping an arm into the earl's.
"My dear lady," Upperton said blithely, "I have lost nothing that you will miss, I can assure you. And I always win back my losses. You will see."
And any chance Jasper might have had for discussing Upperton's losses with him was lost as the two lovers disappeared into another part of the house.
"That went well," Trent said dryly. "Though what we could have done to stop things short of leaping into the flames ourselves I have no idea."
"It's a damnable thing when a man can wager his daughter's belongings without a by-your-leave," Jasper groused as he and Trent stalked from the card room and toward the door to the street.
"True enough," Trent said. "But I have a feeling Lady Hermione will not take the news without a fight."
"Even Lady Hermione Upperton cannot interfere in a matter of honor like a wager," Jasper said, brushing a spare thread from the sleeve of his greatcoat. "Though I should like very much to see her try."
* * *
"You're sure Leonora and Freddy will be there?" asked Hermione as she negotiated her bright yellow curricle around a narrow turn.
Though Ophelia was not overly fond of riding in the fast carriage, she had agreed to do so that morning for the sake of the occasion. Today was Hermione's first outing as a full-fledged member of the Lords of Anarchy driving club.
"Yes," Ophelia answered sharply, gripping the side of the carriage with one hand and her pretty bonnet with the other. "Leonora promised me that they would be there to cheer you on. And if they are not I shall be quite put out since I planned to stand with them as we watch the procession."
It was with a sense of unreality that Hermione had had her beautiful matched grays harnessed to the curricle that morning. She had spent so long applying and being rejected by the most prestigious clubs in London that finally achieving her goal of membership was still a little unbelievable.
"Good," Hermione said with some relief. She wasn't sure why, but having her friends there to cheer her on was of the utmost importance to her. Perhaps it was because her only family to speak of was her father, and he had proved himself to be indifferent at the best of times. Much better to count on the affection of Leonora and Ophelia, who had on more than one occasion shown they were not as fickle as her father was. "I wonder if there will be a crowd. There are only twenty-four club members but I should like to think that a day as pretty as this will command a few onlookers at least."
"You only wish for the world to see your splendid carriage and even more glorious horses," Ophelia teased. Since Hermione had spoken nonstop about the pair since she'd acquired them a few months earlier there was little danger Ophelia would forget them. "Though I must again complain that you really ought to give them to me, considering that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were clearly destined to be mine."
"If you had the least inclination of what to do with them, my dear," Hermione said with a laugh, "then perhaps I would agree with you. As it is, you will have to content yourself with loving them from afar. Or at the very least, safely from the ground, for I am not convinced that you are not terrified now as they convey you through the streets of London."
Since Ophelia continued to grasp the side of the curricle like a shipwreck victim does a lifeboat, she did not disagree.
Fortunately for her, they were nearing the Queen's Gate of Hyde Park where club members had been instructed to muster.
To Hermione's pleasure, quite a number of onlookers, on foot, by carriage, and on horseback had gathered around the gate to watch the splendidly colored carriages. The members of the Lords of Anarchy were distinguished by the red and yellow striped waistcoats each driver wore. Hermione's driving costume was a lovely fitted crimson and yellow striped spencer over a sturdy riding habit of light wool. She'd had it specially created for today's outing and was glad for it as soon as she saw how many curious looks she received as the only female member of the notorious club.
"Hermione!" she heard a familiar voice shout from a nearby open barouche. "Ophelia!"
A quick glance to the left revealed Leonora seated beside her husband and waving her handkerchief in the air in order to attract their attention.
Pulling alongside her friends' carriage, Hermione felt the scrutiny of the newcomers. "What?" she asked with a frown. "Have I got dirt on my face?" She lifted a gloved hand to brush her cheek.
"Nothing like that, you silly creature," Leonora said with a grin. "I was just taking in the sight of someone who is living out her greatest dream. How does it feel?"
Since her own thoughts hadn't been too far from her friend's on the matter, Hermione grinned, too. "It feels wonderful," she said, barely stopping herself from crying out a huzzah. "Better than I could have possibly expected."
"You'd better divest yourself of your passenger before you gallop off into the sunset," Freddy said wryly. "For I fear Miss Dauntry is not experiencing the same sort of bliss as you are at the moment."
Turning, Hermione saw with a start that Ophelia was indeed looking a bit like she wanted to leap from the curricle and never look back.
"Shall I give you a hand down, Miss Dauntry?" asked Lord Mainwaring, who had ridden up to their little party on a handsome bay, with the Duke of Trent not far behind on his own splendid midnight-black mount.
Before Ophelia could respond, Mainwaring was on the ground, and handing Ophelia down from Hermione's curricle and up into the Lisle barouche.
"You might have told me you were so desperate to get down, Ophelia," said Hermione with a frown.
Of course it had been Lord Mainwaring who came to her friend's rescue. He would consider Ophelia's reluctance to ride in such a fast vehicle as a mark of her true femininity. Whereas Hermione, with her taste for driving and fine horseflesh, was far too unladylike for such as him. She felt a pang of jealousy over the way he looked up at her friend before quickly stifling it. Today wasn't about attracting the notice of handsome gentlemen — at least not the sort who found the notion of a lady driving something akin to a dancing dog, she thought, paraphrasing Johnson, not that she did it well, but that she attempted it at all.
Today was about pleasing herself and herself alone. She was preparing to make her good-byes before driving to take her place in the crowd of other club members' carriages, when Mainwaring, back in the saddle, addressed her.
"I take it these are the remarkable grays I've heard so much about," he said, nodding toward where Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had begun to stamp their hooves in restlessness.
Hermione couldn't help but notice that Mainwaring's seat on his own horse was quite good. In buff breeches that outlined the strong muscles of his thighs and a bottle-green coat that looked as if it had been sewn onto his wide shoulders, he looked every bit the dashing nobleman. It didn't help that his keen blue eyes were watching her.
Shaking off her unwanted attraction to the man, she held his gaze. "They are, indeed. My pride and joy, and as much the reason for my presence here today as any skill on my part, I'd wager."
Her self-deprecation must have surprised him, for he frowned and said, "I sincerely doubt that. I've seen you drive, Lady Hermione, and while I might wish you had chosen a safer pastime, even a nondriver like myself has to admit that you are skilled with the reins."
The unexpected praise made her blink, and to her shame, she felt a blush creep into her cheeks. Since when did Mainwaring pay her compliments? "I ... that is to say ..."
Before she could finish stumbling through her awkward thanks, another rider approached to stop beside Mainwaring.
From the scowl on Mainwaring's face it was evident he was not pleased to see the newcomer.
"Lady Hermione," said the dark-haired man, who had intruded on their conversation. "We haven't been formally introduced. I am Saintcrow. And I'm afraid we've got a bit of a dilemma."
Hermione blinked. "I don't understand, Lord Saintcrow. We are not acquainted so I do not know how there might be any sort of trouble between us."
"Might you not wait until after the meeting of the club has finished?" Mainwaring asked the other man through clenched teeth. Clearly there was no love lost between the two men, but what had provoked such a response from Mainwaring? "There is no need to cause a scene."
"A scene about what?" Hermione asked, her stomach clenching at the possibilities as to what a public scene might pertain. "I assure you, gentlemen, I should rather know sooner than later."
Excerpted from Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins. Copyright © 2015 Manda Collins. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved this series so far...already have the next one preordered!!! Highly recommend
The characters are entertaining and the story is compelling. Well worth the read!
#2 in "Lord's of Anarchy", series, while, can be read as a stand alone, I'd recommend reading Book 1 first. A bit slow at times but picks up nicely. A spy, possible treason, murder, passion,deceit, betrayal, romance and finding true love. The characters are well-rounded,engaging, energetic, and interesting. The storyline is well written with bits of intrigue, danger, mystery, suspense and of course, the impossible, finding love. Ms.Collins is another of my favorite Historical romance authors. She never disappoints her readers with her characters, her stories, and her writing style. Another enjoyable and satisfying read. I look forward to the next grand adventure. *Received for an honest review from the publisher via Net Gallery* Rating: 4 Heat rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
This is the second book in The Lords of Anarchy series and it can be read as a stand-alone however I believe it would be better enjoyed if you read the first book. Hermione is the only female member of the Lords of Anarchy, and is crushed when her father loses her horses while gambling. Worse yet, he then gambles of her hand in marriage. When the man who won her horses turns up dead, will her new husband help her clear her name? I enjoyed the story, they characters were excellent and the story held my interest throughout. An enjoyable historical romance.
The first I have read by this author, the story takes a slower pace, and builds characters carefully. They truly are the driving forces behind the story, and the twists with a touch of murderous intent and danger work to build the tension through to the conclusion. A simple ‘driving club’ the Lords of Anarchy are titled men who enjoy a bit of carriage racing, and other manly pursuits. Until Hermione Upperton is admitted into their ranks. A bold and fearless horsewoman of her own right, her vaunted pair is the perfect competition for the men. Until she loses her own property to pay off her rather feckless father’s gambling debt. But, as she is determined to get her own property back, her father goes one step further, and wagers her hand in marriage! Now, understandably women had few rights, but this was over the top. Great premise though. And then, the man who won Hermione’s horses turns up murdered, and she is the primary suspect. Fortunately, her hand was won by Jasper, and while an inveterate gambler, he does have some sense of morality, and he knows that Hermione is better off away from her father, and with someone who can protect her from the dangers, and the charge of murder. Hermione was a wonderful character: not too over the top in terms of her determination to win woman’s rights, although she did rail at the unfairness of the situation, and she’s not particularly thrilled with Jasper as a prospective husband. But, personas are often based in gossip and fueled by deliberate actions to cause more gossip and allow freedom of choice, and Jasper has used those tactics to great advantage personally, even as his reputation among the ton is dubious. He’s got a strong sense of loyalty, protectiveness and he’s actually rather intrigued by her. Like many of the ‘forced proximity’ trope stories, these two do not have an instant bond, but the ulterior motives are not stopgaps to a true friendship, which soon deepens into honest regard, and then the attractions come to the forefront. With several twists and turns, a clever series of events lead them through the miasma of murder, villains, suspects and foes hidden and overt, and keeps readers following along. While not a race to the finish sort of story, the characters and events grow on you and become richer in each page. A great instalment in the series and one that will have me considering this author’s work in the future. 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.
This is book 2 in the Lords of Anarchy series. Hermione Upperton is devastated when her father wagers her matched pair and loses them in a card game, but that doesn't even begin to compare to how she feels when she learns that he bet her hand in marriage and lost to the Earl of Mainwaring. The man is a infamous gambler just like her father and he has made his opinion very clear on how he feels about her driving and belonging to the Lords of Anarchy driving club. Jasper Fawley knows how devastated Hermione will be when he witnesses her father losing her matched pair. He also knows that her father will soon have nothing else to bet but the hand of his daughter, so he approaches him with an offer and wins Hermione with a few turns of the card. Can they make this marriage work when it starts out so poorly? LOVED this story! I had a feeling that Collins would pair Hermione and Jasper while I was reading A Good Rake is Hard to Find. Then when I found out that she was, I couldn't believe that I had to wait 7 months to read their story. The wait was definitely worth it though!! Hermione and Jasper are known for their bickering between each other and Collins continues it with their story, which I loved!! On top of the romance story we also have a mystery to be solved which added another layer and excitement to the story. The next book in the series stars Ophelia Dauntry and Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent. I love that this series revolves around three best friends falling for three other best friends!! That means we get to see all the couples with each story and start to see the relationships building between the couples! April is a long time away...hope I can make it that long!! Thanks go out to St. Martin's Press for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
2.75* This is a hard review for me to write. I just don't know how I really feel about the book. It was a ok book. It kept my attention but it was more like a roller coaster of reading. It would be really good then plummete again but the good parts kept me reading and hopeful it would stay that way. Unfortunately it did not. The characters added most of the enjoyment to the book. The ladie dialogue and antics were the most fun
This is the second book in the "Lords of Anarchy" series. I have not read the first one yet, which meant that you missed the first time that our hero and heroine met and her struggle to get into the Lords of Anarchy-the driving club. With that said, I still feel it was a stand alone book, not reading the first one did not stop me from enjoying this one. They had a story of their own to build and so nothing really was missed in this book. Our heroine is Lady Hermione who likes to drive/race with horses. Her father is a gambler that pretty much gambles everything away even if it was his and also gambled away her / Herminoe. Our hero, Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring has seen what her father has done and made it so that he was the one that won her as a wife in the card game. Also he is working on helping to find out some mystery about Hermione grey horses and some other horses in the area that seem to have gone missing...and then there is a murder. So our couple has a few things they are working out. I liked this book and was so glad to read it. I hope that you will like it too!
Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins is a fantastic read. I love the characters in this book. Good Earl Gone Bad is well written. The characters are lovable and there is plenty of action, drama and spice to round out Hermione and Jasper's wonderful story. This was my first book by Manda Collins and I look forward to reading more from this talented author in the future. Good Earl Gone Bad is book 2 in the Lords of Anarchy Series but can be read as a stand alone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.
GOOD EARL GONE BAD (Lords of Anarchy #2) by Manda Collins is a pleasant, adventurous historical romance. Though I was intrigued by the premise of the novel, I didn’t feel the emotional connection between Hermione and Jasper as strongly as I wanted to. The conflict in their relationship wasn’t very tense or suspenseful. Hermione is supposed to be a liberated, outspoken woman and somewhat of a trailblazer as the first female driver in the Lords of Anarchy, but her behaviors are hardly outrageous. Though she announced in the prologue that she’s going to prove she belongs in the club by winning, she only drives once in the entire book–to meet with the driving club at the park, where her horses are immediately taken away from her. I wanted to see her race and show the world what a daring and extraordinary woman she is. Unlike Hermione’s father, Jasper is a mathematical genius, who literally wins Hermione’s hand in marriage from her father in a card game. Though Hermione doesn’t approve of Jasper’s gambling, it isn’t a deal-breaker. Reflecting the aristocratic customs of the era, Hermione doesn’t expect to marry for love. She rails at her father for treating her like property, but after allowing Jasper to put his hand up her skirt, she acquiesces to a marriage by special license. I felt that Jasper was more expressive of his emotions than Hermione. As a result, I found him to be more likable. I thought that the sex scenes could have been more passionate and emotional and that the writing seemed cautious and restrained. The mystery involving stolen horses is solved mostly behind the scenes and following a confession. The romance itself was very sweet, and I liked how Jasper and Hermione were protective of each other. *I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
I absolutely love this series and this is my favorite one yet. Jasper is so damn sexy it hurts. He's sweet and mysterious and has that mile wide protective streak I so love in a hero. He was also HONEST with Hermione which is so refreshing. The plot was driven entirely by the characters and situations revolving around the horse thieves and the riding club. No facepalming misunderstandings. Hermione maintains her headstrong, independent behavior, as seen in her previous appearances. The plot kept me guessing til the very end and it was a total page turner. I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to see what is in store for Trent and Ophelia...
The player gets played. Ophelia is caught between a rock and a hard place. Betrayed by her father, forced to make tough decisions and on the hunt for answers. She has a lot on her plate. Jasper never expected to have a temptress like Ophelia fall into his lap, All he wanted was a night of fun. Now he has a wife who he doesn't completely trust, a murderer on the loose and is entangled in a mystery that may get them both killed. Manda Collins world conspiracies, secrets, lust, power and murder is full of excitement. A little confusing at times but overall a cool effort. I received an ARC of Good Earl Gone Bad in exchange for an honest review.
This was quite the adventure,with evil at every turn, and ending with a lovely romance. The characters are warm, loving,(except for the evil guys) not your usual uppity Ton. There are nearly as many bad guys as good guys in this story, but that makes it all the more interesting to read, hanging onto each word, and each page. An enjoyable story, and difficult to put down. The Earl of Mainwaring would be any lady's dream husband, of quiet strength and wisdom, Lady Hermione is certainly not your typical lady, the first to join the Lords of Anarchy, an infamous driving club. I'm ready to read the next story about Lord Trend the new President of the Lords of Anarchy, Good Dukes Wear Black (Lords of Anarchy #3) by Manda Collins.
An exquisite love story, a captivating mystery, and lovely writing make GOOD EARL GONE BAD a Regency delight! What a glorious day it was for Lady Hermione Upperton! She has just gained admittance to the previously all-male Lords of Anarchy driving club, even though the president is an unpleasant bloke, she is euphoric and she celebrates with her best friends. However, on the day of her first race, to her consternation, her beloved horses are taken away from her publicly; her father lost them in a gaming hell. Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, witnessed the debacle and feels for Hermione, whom he rather fancies from afar; he is a gambling man himself, but knows when to stop. But Hermione’s trials are far from over, as yet again her father gambles, and this time it is her hand that he loses to Jasper! GOOD EARL GONE BAD is the second instalment in the Lords of Anarchy series, and Ms. Collins recaps some of the essentials for those who had, alas, not read the first book. I love the friendship between Hermione, Leonora and Ophelia, it feels completely genuine, as well as the camaraderie between the men. The author’s meticulous attention to detail brings the Regency era to life, especially with regards to the limited possibilities for women, as seen through Hermione’s eyes, as she is a headstrong young woman. The author displays much finesse and flair; while she respects the vocabulary and idioms of the era, the narrative is light, and flows easily, and the dialogues feel natural yet feel completely authentic. GOOD EARL GONE BAD is a meticulously constructed story which successfully blends a terrific mystery with a wonderful romance; the plot is very intricate and the somewhat unhurried pace makes it easy to follow. Jasper is exactly the type of hero I love to read about: he is a gentleman to the end. The chemistry between Hermione and Jasper is undeniable, and they treat each other with respect, they like each other, and O joy, there is not one misunderstanding, or idiotic complication. I felt I knew these people, I really liked them, and I can hardly wait for the next instalment of The Lords of Anarchy! I actually give 4 ½ stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.