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An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, Alison Larkin is a classically trained actress who has appeared on Broadway with the Royal National Theatre and Off-Broadway with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her unusually wide range of voices can be heard in award-winning audiobooks, cartoons, and movies.
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The Earl's New Bride
A Daughter's of Amhurst Novel
By Frances Fowlkes, Robin Haseltine
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Frances Fowlkes
All rights reserved.
Kent, England 1819
Lady Henrietta Beauchamp was about to faint.
She teetered on a precarious edge, where one more whiff of Mr. Livingston would knock her quite senseless.
Unless Lady Georgiana's practiced squeals of delight didn't do it first.
Of course, her dizziness could have been avoided entirely had she: one, not been invited to a party so obvious in its purpose to aid in the new earl's selection of a wife, and two, not been bound and determined to marry said earl so she might remain in her ancestral home.
Henrietta's fingers curled around the wooden blades of her fan, warm tingles of numbness distracting her from the sour remnants of breakfast seeping onto her tongue.
"You look positively green."
Lord, she felt it. A light, sick color of green.
Sarah, Henrietta's younger sister by eighteen months, eyed her with concern. "Are you feeling well?"
Ill, yes. Nervous, most dubiously so. Well?
"'Tis better than a red complexion," Albina, Sarah's twin, murmured on Henrietta's left. "Think of how red would clash with the apricot of her gown."
Henrietta glanced down at her newest muslin, a piece her mother insisted she wear for the sole purpose of meeting their father's successor — and the man she needed to take as her husband.
She could only pray her distant cousin thought green a complimentary color to apricot, and silence more alluring than conversation.
Sarah touched her hand to the sleeve of Henrietta's dress. "Remember to breathe. He is only a man."
A man who held both her past and her future in the palms of his hands.
Were it possible to marry a house, she would have already done so. A more devoted, committed, and loving wife would never be found. Alas, young women were not granted the consent to marry houses.
She was allowed, however, to marry the men who owned them.
Perspiration trickled down the side of her ear, a warm coastal breeze wafting through Plumburn's largest drawing room, further adding to her malaise.
"Have you any lavender?" Sarah asked, her hand growing heavy on Henrietta's arm.
Lavender. Of course. The tiny purple flowers always made her feel better, their palliative scent an immediate balm to her anxiety. And when she had the time and foresight to pin a small nosegay of the flowers to the inside of her corset, she was soothed with a discreet sniff of its contents.
Or at least, when she had the time and foresight. This morning's toilette had been rushed, and her thoughts focused not on her beloved herbs, but on one man and the gravity of today's meeting.
"I-I-I did n-n-n-"
As they usually did at nerve-wracking, nausea-inducing functions, her tongue went lax, refusing to yield to her will and the words she wished to speak.
Pursing her lips, Sarah gave Henrietta's arm a gentle squeeze.
"We will have to find an alternative. Perhaps Mrs. Ellsworth had the foresight to place some lavender flowers in plain sight."
Of course she had. The elderly housekeeper was more than familiar with Henrietta's impediment and her requirement of calming tonics.
Henrietta's gaze roamed over the room and the assorted gathering of the bon ton, including the cluster of Society's most desirable misses, all three of whom were poised and primped to perfection, sitting in rapt anticipation of the earl's arrival.
While she did her best not to cast up her accounts on their satin slippers.
Spotting a large floral arrangement to her left, Henrietta took a deep breath and headed toward the assorted blooms, including bright purple lavender sprigs Plumburn's thoughtful housekeeper had placed there for more than a visual aesthetic.
Henrietta stepped around the Countess of Dewbury and her daughter, the always composed, always prim Lady Isabella, to better acquaint herself with the scented bouquet of flowers. They were settled atop a quaint little side table her father had brought home from one of his numerous trips to the Continent.
The memory of her father brought a small measure of comfort, and even the semblance of a smile. It did not, however, calm the churning in her stomach or soothe her anxiety. With another deep inhale, Henrietta nestled her nose amongst the colorful blossoms, including bright pink peonies, her father's favorite — and sneezed.
Dropping her fan, she gripped the edge of the table.
Her nerves were obviously the farthest thing from settled. In fact, they were worse. Far worse.
Dipping down to retrieve her fan and discreetly swipe her nose, she assessed the damage done to her coiffure, running her fingers over her carefully placed strands. Perhaps her maid's handiwork had held, and all the pins remained in their rightful place.
Or, as she dragged her leather-encased fingers across the metal tips of three pins, perhaps not.
She pulled the stem of a hothouse rose from her hair, as another sneeze tore through her body, snapping her chin against the table. The pain would have been tolerable had the vase, the last gift her father had given their mother before he passed, not wobbled, threatening to spill its contents. Henrietta popped up and made a grab for the priceless porcelain. Unable to stop its trajectory, she was only able to watch the contents splatter down the front of her gown.
Horror, embarrassment, and a fresh wave of dizziness gripped her. The muslin was thin on its own, the gossamer fabric illuminated by the equally sheer petticoat lining the skirt of her gown — which was now damp, transparent, and stained with at least a pint worth of water.
"Ladies. Gentlemen." Alfred, Plumburn's butler for the past thirty years, projected his voice to fill the large room. "Allow me to present the Earl of Amhurst."
If ever Henrietta had a choice word to utter for cursing's sake, now would have been the moment to declare it.
She stood stock still, her back to the room's entrance, her eyes lifted heavenward, pleading for a miracle, an absorbent cloth, a hole to open in the middle of the floor to swallow her whole. Anything to stop the trembling of her limbs and the chill shooting straight down her spine.
The room was silent, a feat in and of itself with something close to fifteen people in attendance. They were no doubt muting their conversations to stare at the recently returned earl.
She resisted the urge to turn her head to view the scandal-tainted man. She'd spent hours, days, and far too many sleepless nights imagining this moment when she would finally lay eyes on the man whom she needed to marry.
The Black Earl. The devil himself.
But now that the moment had arrived, she didn't dare peek, not with her gown ruined, and her hair likely in disarray, covered with bright yellow specs of pollen.
Why, she must look positively wild.
Her heart racing, she set the vase upright on the side table, the light thump of the porcelain on wood echoing in the far too silent room.
Perhaps the earl was so handsome, everyone had been rendered speechless, their tongues tied and bound by the attractiveness he exuded.
Or perhaps, as she began to fear, they were not staring at the earl at all.
Her hands grew damp, and her heart threatened to stop altogether.
Calm yourself. Deep breaths.
Her father's voice sounded in her head, his gravelly tenor filling her with a confidence she did not feel.
She had sneezed, for heaven's sake. While the man she hoped to impress had entered the room.
The timing was rather off. And horribly bad. But certainly the man could overlook her slight infraction.
After all, as the Black Earl, he had incurred a few missteps. And she was more than willing to overlook his breaks in decorum.
Then again, he did not have a room full of people staring at him. Or at least, she didn't think they were staring at him.
Her father's encouraging words faded, replaced by snarls of doubt, fear, and utter panic.
She needed to secure the earl's hand. The consequences, should she fail, were catastrophic.
With shaky breaths, Henrietta turned to face her family. Her competition. And the man who held her home tight within his grasp.
* * *
Simon DeVere was in hell.
A hell of his own creation, to be sure, but a hell none the less.
He was in a room full of females. Eligible females. Who all wanted a stab at his title and wealth to secure a place for themselves in the echelons of high society.
And he was the idiot who had gathered them together. The irony was not lost on him. He was the Black Earl, a man who had killed his lover to avoid the parson's mousetrap.
Or so, despite his recently proven innocence, the rumors went.
And now he wished a wife. More specifically an heir, and since he could not have the one without the other, he had his steward select the most eligible, forgiving, and desperate females of the beau monde, along with those men who still retained the title of his friend, and had them invited to his acquired estate in Kent.
The most desperate females, it seemed, and the most intriguing.
Simon, along with the rest of the room, kept his eyes trained on the back of a miss in an almost sheer, pale-colored gown.
Her petite frame and somewhat narrow backside would not have garnered his attention in and of itself, but in combination with the lush, ripe, and most comely set of womanly curves displayed by the diaphanous fabric of her dress, he found it impossible to avert his gaze.
Were he a gentleman, he would have diverted the rest of the room's attention away from the girl's trembling form and onto something less ... revealing.
But Simon, as the ton was so apt to remind him, was not a gentleman, at least not outside of the title. So he continued to stare. And think the most deliciously wicked thoughts.
She must have realized everyone's gaze was centered on her, for her shoulders straightened and she turned.
Dear, God. If he thought the back of her gown revealing, the front might as well have been transparent. Dampened and darkened, the flesh-colored fabric did little to hide the white shift beneath, so wet itself one could almost make out the outline of her thighs.
If he hadn't already been thinking thoughts given to the devil, he most certainly was now.
His entire body warmed, his lifeblood pulsing through his veins at a speed not felt since, well ... not for some time, but certainly fit for arousing parts of his body he did not wish to have on display.
He swallowed, willing his gaze upward to a face so delicate, were he a man given to whimsy, he would describe it as elfin. Wisps of raven black hair partially hid a set of round eyes animated with the same horror, humiliation, and embarrassment he felt whenever he glanced at a looking glass.
He might not be a gentleman, but he could not allow the girl to be ogled like an exotic animal in a menagerie. Even he had a modicum of honor.
Shrugging off his jacket, he strode toward her and slipped the tailored wool over her set of narrow shoulders.
"Th-th-thank you, my lord." Small gloved hands gripped the edges of his jacket, pulling it close around her.
Were warm air not swirling through the room, he would have dismissed her tremors to a chill wrought by the water spilt down the front of her gown. As it was, sweat trickled down his neck, dampening his cravat.
But he knew better. The trembling creature did not shake from cold. She shook with fear.
Most women did. His reputation alone was enough to elicit weak knees in the most jaded of women, the murmurs of murder making them leery of his presence. Those few who were apt enough to disregard the rumors were scared off by his scars. The shriveled skin. And the black patch covering what remained of his glassy and lifeless eye.
Clasping his hands behind his back, he resisted the urge to adjust the irritating piece of silk protecting his injury. He had gotten used to the whispers, the second glances, and the averted gazes. What he had not been able to conquer were the looks of pity.
Terror. Disgust. Revulsion. All were better than the pity so oft reflected in two whole perfect eyes, and the apologies one uttered upon viewing his injury for his first time. Pity, however, was not evident in the quick, furtive glance of the woman adjusting his jacket over her shoulders.
A flicker of fear, yes, but so too of blatant curiosity.
"Your predecessor's daughter, Lady Henrietta."
Simon started at the words. He hadn't seen his butler approach.
"I beg your pardon?" he asked. He could have sworn the man had announced something absurd.
"Your predecessor's daughter, Lady Henrietta." His man jerked his head to the side, motioning toward the girl still shivering before him.
She lowered into a graceful curtsy. "My lord."
Three more women positioned themselves behind her, each bowing a dark head while the butler continued his introduction.
"Your predecessor's wife, the Countess of Amhurst, and her daughters, Lady Albina and Lady Sarah."
These were the women with whom he shared blood and a common ancestry?
He was aware the former earl possessed a family, indeed, had known the man had three daughters, all of them dowdy innocents with horsey faces, and lanky physiques.
Or so he had assumed.
The earl, at least what he recalled of him, was a tall thin man of no particular distinction. A titled peer who had attracted a wife with his coffers and not with any physical attribute. Simon presumed the earl's women would follow in kind and be the suitable, yet unattractive and least enticing creatures imaginable.
He certainly had not entertained the possibility the earl had married a woman of great beauty. And he sure as hell had not given any sort of consideration to the idea the old man might have fathered not one, but three handsome daughters.
It was clear they were related to each other. All of them were in possession of dark hair and fair-skin, with high cheeks and pointed chins. One, however, stood apart from her sisters, her beauty resplendent, with full lips and round, brandy-colored eyes — eyes that still observed him while her hands trembled and clutched his jacket to her chest.
This would not do. At all.
He required a wife, yes, but not one who would tempt him. And certainly not one with features so similar to Anne's. He was in need of an heir, not bed sport. He had learned his lesson. He would not tempt fate again. Not when the earldom and its money were at stake.
He glanced past the cluster of dark-haired women to the remaining guests and their inquisitive stares — at least those brave enough to look in his direction. Most avoided his assessing gaze, each finding something else to focus upon, namely the floor.
Their averted faces were enough for him to assess that none of them bore hair darker than a shade of wheat. Indeed, none of them possessed anything more than mildly pleasing features.
One of them would do splendidly. He'd leave the Amhurst daughters to his male guests. With their creamy complexions, the girls would undoubtedly garner a proposal or two. Just not from him.
Bringing his attention back to the sodden enchantress and her kin, Simon dipped his head to offer his acknowledgement of their introduction — as an ear splitting sneeze rent the air.
Lord, he'd heard quieter sounds from squealing piglets.
Were it not for the red stain infusing Lady Henrietta's cheeks, he would not have believed her to be the source of the sound. Surely such a delicate creature could not have the lung capacity to — another sneeze escaped her body, shaking the girl from head to foot.
He stood corrected.
Though he could hardly discredit the genuineness of her reflex, his head throbbed from its effects. In an effort to put both of them out of their misery — he from her headache-provoking sternutation, and her from further public humiliation, he stepped backward, slipped his fingers into his waistcoat pocket, and pulled out a white linen handkerchief.
He handed her the pressed square, the pale skin of her face further darkening to the shade of a perfect, ripe summer berry. Her lips parted, full, rosy things that made his chest tighten.
Her gloved fingers took his gift, brushing against his, her eyes flicking upward through a fringe of lashes the same shade of black as the ink standing in his well.
Excerpted from The Earl's New Bride by Frances Fowlkes, Robin Haseltine. Copyright © 2015 Frances Fowlkes. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5 out of 5 stars! Simon has been known as the Black Earl ever since he inherited his title and because of the peculiar situation that he was found in during his mistress’s death about 5 years ago. Yet, now that he has “been cleared” of any wrongdoing, his next goal is to obtain a wife in good standing to save his reputation and so he can get an heir. However, life has thrown Simon a lot of bad curveballs, will he consider Henrietta one of those bad ones or the best thing that has ever happened to him? This historical romance was unlike any I had read before … it was intense … it was sweet … it had a mystery that kept you guessing … yet in the end it was the biggest twist of all that sets it apart and makes it unique all on its own. So, if you want a historical romance read that will keep you guessing, than this is the novel for you! However, even with all that boastfulness about this novel it was truly Simon and Henrietta that captivated me. I liked that they both have their own “issues” or personal “deformities” to overcome, since it showed how they surmounted everything to get together. In truth, though, they fit each other perfectly in the way they looked at the world and tried to unintentionally protect one another. In addition, the ending was very special. So, overall, I highly recommend this novel! Review By: From Me to You ... Book Reviews -- read more of this review and THREE TEASERS on my blog: frommetoyouvideophoto.blogspot.com --
Entertaining, Easy Read...made me laugh more than once. Short but definitely Worth reading. Will look for more of this authors books!
Well written, I enjoyed the book, will read more by this author.
Too short at 150 pages. Not enough length for an appripriate story for me. Not enough conflict in it and what was there was resolved quickly.
This is book 1 in the Daughter's of Amhurst series. Lady Henrietta Beauchamp loves her ancestral home, but when a distant relative inherits the Earldom the family has to move out. Several years later, the family learns that the earl is looking for a bride. Wanting her home back, Henrietta throws her hat into the ring during the house party the earl throws. Simon Devere, the Earl of Amhurst, needs an heir and for that her needs a wife. Knowing that a beautiful woman would only bring him grief, Simon is determined to marry a woman that he has no hope of desiring. But he soon finds himself wildly attracted to the late earl's daughter, who only wants the to marry him to get her home back. Can this unlikely pair find a love that they didn't know they were looking for? I really enjoyed this story. Simon and Henrietta seemed like an unlikely pair when they first meet, but you could see the attraction from their first meeting. They both had in their head what they wanted, but soon learned that what they need was completely different. This is my first by Fowlkes, but it won't be my last! Thanks go out to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Held my interest!!!! Highly recommend!!!!!
First off--such a pretty cover. Love it! Secondly--a beauty and the beast story where Beauty is slightly more clumsy rather than just constantly distracted and her love is herbs and herbal remedies instead of books? Sounds like a good one, sign me up! :) When I first read the blurb and saw the cover for The Earl's New Bride, I knew I had to read it. I'm a total sucker for fairytale retellings, after all, and B&tB is one of the favorites at our house. (And the new live action version cannot come soon enough, BTW. I'm dying to see Dan Stevens in something that won't make me cringe--unlike everything else he's done since Downton. Sigh...) I'm happy to report it did not disappoint. The Earl's New Bride is a sweet romance with a touch of mystery, and a Beauty and the Beast story set in Regency England. It's the first in a new series, and I will definitely be coming back to read about Henrietta's twin sisters, Sarah and Albina...especially since Sarah has an incident to make up for and Albina's choice of a possible love interest in this story turns out to be a bit less-than...tension, ready and waiting! I loved both Oliver and Henrietta. The new(ish) Earl of Amhurst has been burned by love--almost literally (maybe literally? We don't find out the nitty gritty details of his injuries), and now that he's got the title all he wants to do is find a modest, unassuming bride who's desperate enough to take the Black Earl on and give him heirs--he needs to ensure above all that he never trusts his heart to another beautiful woman and that his younger brother doesn't inherit the title. (There's a definite story there, but we don't get much of it beyond vague references. Which is fine; I'd much rather we focus on Oliver and Henrietta.) Henrietta intrigues him, which is bad. Very bad. He resists as long as he can, the poor man... The Black Earl indeed. More like the tormented-confused-and-frustratingly-desirous-of-Lady-Henrietta-Earl. But we all know resistance is futile... Henrietta has gone to the house party planning on sacrificing herself in the interests of keeping the estate where her dear father spend so much time and where her herb gardens are a part of her life on a permanent basis. The very idea of the Black Earl fills her with trepidation, but she's determined to do this much for her family. Her nerves over the whole situation lead to a laugh out loud first meeting (clumsy doesn't even begin to cover it, the poor girl!) in which she absolutely gets Oliver's attention. But will it be enough? (Insert happy sigh) Of course it will, but not until we have plenty of angst and yearning first. ;) The Earl's New Bride is a sweet and entertaining read, kicking off a new series I'm very much looking forward to reading more from. (And seeing more of Henrietta and Oliver in--because, adorable!) Rating: 4 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Frances Fowlkes gives us a story of two people who are afraid of what others think, say and believe about them. One is running from a horrific tragedy and hiding behind scars both inside and out, while the other is hiding from restrictive social rules. Wonderful characters that once are allowed to let go of their bindings and show who they are, their lives find the happiness they have been seeking. The Earl of Amhurst, Simon Devere, has been hurt by three beautiful women in his life with the last, his mistress, having caused the most damage. Accused of murdering his mistress, Simon lived with the gossip for five years before evidence cleared him and allowed him to assume his title. Gossip was not the only source of his pain. Left with facial scars and loss of an eye combined with the rumors, Simon is faced with trouble finding a suitable bride. Having had his life brought to this point by beautiful women, Simon wishes a homely wife that will cause him no more problems. Upon finding that his own brother wants his title he must act quickly to find a wife and produce an heir to secure his title. Asking his friend, a confirmed bachelor to set up a selection of women, Amhurst begins his hunt. Unknown to Amhurst, he will meet his predecessor’s daughter, Lady Henrietta Beauchamp, a distant relative and she will rule his head and heart even though he fights being with her. Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is an intelligent, caring young woman with knowledge most young women do not have. Henrietta loves plants and using herbs to heal. She would much rather commune with them than people due to her own impediment. She loves the gardens and home and wants to live in it forever as it holds many memories of her late father. Determined to do so, Lady Henrietta along with her Mother and sisters put into motion a plan for Simon to marry her and no other. Simon convinces himself that Henrietta is not for him, but cannot seem to stay away from her. They are thrown together through circumstances neither can control. Henrietta aids him with herbal reliefs for his headaches and inability to sleep. Love blossoms between the two even though neither can admit it. Soon, the women are falling ill and sabotage is evident, but who is trying to harm the women and to what end? Simon must also deal with his jealousy as his friend shows too much interest in Henrietta while trying to interest Simon in another of the candidates. What happened to being a confirmed bachelor? Henrietta falls victim to several humiliating incidents in front of Simon and begins to doubt she can gain his interest. When she is offered marriage to another due to her inappropriateness to being paired with the Earl, Henrietta leaves Simon and the estate. When Simon discovers Henrietta has left the estate, he must make a decision to go after her or let her go. If he lets her go, will he choose the woman whose father can gain him access to the ton and make him more acceptable to society? Will his friend marry Henrietta? I received this book through Netgalley for an honest review. I enjoyed reading this story and how the characters developed through their painful pasts to love and trusting others as well as themselves. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Regency historical fiction.
This is a relaxed and genteel historical romance, with a theme loosely based upon 'Beauty and the Beast'. Our two main characters have an instant connection but need to figure that out for themselves. I adored Henrietta - a book reading introvert who prefers her own company or that of plants, to people - what is there not to love? Simon was the perfect, tormented main male, not wanting to be with Henrietta as she reminded him of betrayers in his past. To add to the romance, we have a simple mystery weaving its way through the pages, as other various ladies become ill. Why are they becoming ill and for what reason? The answers are easy enough, but it does add an extra layer to this delightful book. This is a wonderful read that will delight and relax you. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon cosy up! Definitely recommended by me. * I received a copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book in return for a fair and honest review. * Merissa Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
The Earl's New Bride was such an enjoyable read. Simon inherited the earldom and Henrietta’s beloved home. He was also known in the ton as the Black Earl, and malicious gossips dogged his steps. Having been betrayed by a woman before, and he needed a wife so his dastardly brother did not ruin the Amhurst inheritance, Simon determined to find a plain wife he would not be tempted to give his heart and once again know pain and betrayal. Of course it all went to hell the minute he spied the alluring Henrietta, and despite his resolve to stay away,he couldn't help be drawn to her wonderful character. Henrietta was such a sweet, kind and thoughtful heroine who would do about anything to keep the home she loved. Knowing the new earl needed a wife, she resolved to entice him so he chose her. Simon and Henrietta were pretty good together. Their banters were great and the attraction was delightful. The build up was wonderfully done, and it felt so real as I watched them wade through the doubts and fear to learn and fall in love with each other. I would recommend this historical read. Heat level: 2...
I am a complete sucker for historical novels if they aren't dragged out.. I enjoyed the story line and thought the love story was sweet. But I think i would have enjoyed this so much more if the words didnt get repetitive. It felt like the author couldnt figure out what else to say so they would jump back and share more back information with you. *Copy provided for honest review*
What an amazing story. I loved the twists and intrigue mixed with love and betrayal. It was truly wonderful and I loved the Dark Duke. That they find each other when they most needed it was just perfect.
3.5 very happy reading Stars I’m thinking of pushing this new sub-genre called “Contemporary Historical Romance”. Although it sounds ridiculous, I’ve found lately that some authors write in a historical setting but characters are unencumbered by time-appropriate speech patterns and such, which gives us a very easy to read romance set in a time where the women wore kick ass dresses and the men had to be super masculine to not look like sissy pansies. In The Earl’s New Bride, Simon “Earl of Amhurst” is seeking a wife. Having been hurt in the past by dark haired beauties, starting with his mother and ending in his losing the sight of one eye, he is set on finding some comely girl who will give him heirs before the title and all its fortune fall in his brother’s hand. His plan? Invite some ladies in need of his title and fortune in exchange for the respectability he needs to clear his name of malicious rumors that follow him after the death of a lover and the aforementioned heir to keep the title from falling in his brother’s greedy hands. Henrietta is a distant relation of the Earl, and will do anything to get to live in the house she grew up in… that now belongs to Simon. If that means getting married to him… well then. She really, really loves the house. Now unfortunately for Henrietta she is a dark haired beauty but as she has a stutter, is the definition of clumsy, and is not an air head entertained only by dresses and gossip, she is not seen as a great catch. She has an incredible knowledge of herbalism, a completely unselfish heart, and is as far from manipulative as a baby chipmunk. Simon suffers from crippling pains and when Henrietta happens to have the means to help him lessen them he is wary at first. But soon their mutual attraction becomes a force on its own. She seems like no other woman he’s ever met… she reads. And has thoughts about other things besides dresses and ribbons. Henrietta intrigues and awakens the man within him in a way he never imagined possible But is this unlikely couple meant to be? When convenient illnesses befall on Henrietta’s competition, the Earl, condition by a lifetime of wicked brunettes, can’t be sure what she is capable of doing, how could she want him for real? Henrietta knows she is barely pretty and has many shortcomings, and when she realizes what the Earl needs… well, she realizes what love really is, because she will sacrifice her heart for his wellbeing. This was a very enjoyable, easy read; filled with mystery, romance, completely inappropriate behavior and unchaperoned fun and I won’t be against, like… at all, reading more from this author. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. *
1819 - Kent England Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is the oldest of three daughters. She and her twin sisters, Sarah and Albina, are all lovely young ladies seeking to marry. When their father passed away, he left a substantial dowry for the sisters. Henrietta is a very shy young woman who tends to stutter when she is nervous, but she is quite knowledgeable about herbs and has an extensive herb garden. This has always been a passion for her and she makes teas and salves for medicinal purposes to help her friends and family as needed. A distant cousin, has succeeded to the title and will now live in what was their home, Plumburn. They have been living in another home called Roseherst. Simon DeVere, the Earl of Amhurst, has arrived to take over his new home. At the same time, he will be looking for a bride. Thus, he has arranged in advance that the Beauchamp sisters and several other young ladies will be invited to stay for awhile for him to get to know and, hopefully, select a bride from them. Simon is also known as the Black Earl for he is rumored to have killed his lover to avoid marrying her. In addition, his face is scarred and he wears a patch over his scarred and blinded eye. When Simon arrives at Plumburn, the young ladies are all awaiting for him. Unfortunately, Henrietta is so nervous that she knocks a vase of flowers over herself and soaks her gown. Well, that certainly got Simon’s attention. As the house party continues, Simon becomes acquainted with the young ladies but is attracted to Henrietta. She finds him wandering the house late one evening suffering from pain from his scarred face and she gives him an herb to chew and fixes him a cup of healing tea. When it soothes his pain, he is very grateful to her. Unfortunately. when several of the young ladies become ill for some unknown reason, people begin to think they have been poisoned and the finger of suspicion points to Henrietta! I enjoyed this novel and found the characters to be interesting but I felt they were not as well-developed as I would have liked. However, it did not take away from the story.
A bit of a Beauty & the Beast story. Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is the eldest of 3 daughters of the Earl of Amhurst. Having no sons, when her beloved father passes, the Earldom is inherited by a distant relative whom they have never met. Desperate to keep her beloved home, Plumburn the Earl's estate & seat, Henrietta resolves to try and win the Earl's favour to be his bride. Henrietta is inflicted by a stutter; which she works hard to overcome, and much prefers to keep her own company with her passion; studying herbs and healing. She's quite happy mucking around in her herb garden, getting her hands dirty and down on her knees in old garments or working on concocting healing tea blends and salves in her hideaway nook in Plumburn. She's passionate about using her skill and knowledge to help others regardless of how society (appears to) frown on a lady who is learned and shows it. Quite my favourite type of heroine! Simon DiVere is known as The Black Earl, reputed to have killed his lover to escape marrying her. Scandal & rumour dog his name; with an unsavoury younger brother willing to attempt anything to wrest the title from him, Simon is resigned to marrying a Lady of impeachable lineage and influence to secure his title and repair his reputation. Having been badly hurt by 3 beautiful women in his past, he is wary and distrustful of beautiful women. After being badly injured and scarred - he wears an eye patch to cover his bad eye - he thinks himself unlovable. Lovely chemistry between the characters! Nicely written love scenes (yes there were some hot ones); this was a quick and light read. I happily devoured it in 1 sitting and was quickly engrossed in the story from the 1st page. Copy gifted in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say that I really liked Lady Henrietta. She has that awkward shy, doesn't fit the mold kind of gal which makes her so relatable. This story has a little Beauty and the Beast feel to it because Simon believes he is hideous do to the scarring of his eye. He does tend to have a grouchy attitude at times, but once you find out what life has dealt him you can understand. Henrietta believes she can't garner Simon's attention to become his wife, but she makes a splash at their first meeting. I like how the things that Henrietta believes will have Simon looking elsewhere bring her in a light that Simon finds irresistible. I loved the epilogue was the perfect touch for this couple.
This was a good historical read that left you feeling like you were transported back int time with these characters. Frances did very well with this one. I am not a huge fan of historical's, but this one kept my attention throughout the whole book. I love that there was some humor in it as well. Such a great twist. Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is the oldest sister in her family and she suffers from a stuttering problem. She is very self-conscious about her stutter so she stays to herself. She is very clumsy and always seems to draw attention to herself by doing something that embarrasses herself. Henrietta reads a lot and has a love for herbs and is very good at knowing what herb will ail what illness. When their house guests start falling ill, Henrietta is the only one that knows how to help them. Earl of Amhurst, Simon has come back home to claim a wife for his own. He feels that he is not worthy of a good looking woman because of his own looks. He has a reputation that goes with him as well that scares women away. When he is home and trying to get to know the women that have come available to make themselves his wife, he never expected to fall in love with one of the most beautiful women there. When he meets Henrietta, the sparks fly between them and Simon does not hesitate on acting on his feelings. Henrietta is hesitant to have any relations with Simon. When the other women start falling ill, Simon believes that someone is trying to eliminate their competition and he needs to find out what is going on. Henrietta knows that no one else knows how to use the herbs properly and is afraid that someone is getting her herbs and causing these sicknesses. I am not going to give this away because it was so interesting to find out who it was so you have to read it for yourself!! The way that Simon becomes very protective and close to Henrietta is a hint that they have stronger feelings for each other than we first though. Henrietta's mom finally realizes that she is in love with Simon and tells her that she has to tell him so that she knows exactly how she feels. Henrietta thinks that it is too late and tries to get over her feelings. When Simon finally professes his love for Henrietta, she knows that nothing can keep them apart. These two were made for each other and are just what each other needed. Thanks Frances for a sweet story that we can get lost in! I was given an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
The reviewer received a free/advanced copy in order to post an honest review. The Earl’s New Bride, by Frances Fowlkes a Daughters of Amhurst Novel Henrietta Beauchamp is not your typical heroine. She battles with nerves and a stutter and can hardly keep from doing something clumsy while in a crowd. After her father passes away their beloved home of Plumburn is turned over to the Earl, Simon Amhurst. He is single and looking for a wife, but his scathing reputation shadows him. He is known as the Black Earl. Henrietta must win over the Earl’s heart in order to stay in the home where all her beloved memories of her father are. There are a few other girls all staying at Plumburn in hopes to win the Black Earl’s love, but when things start happening to the girls everyone begins to suspect that the Earl is once again trying to reign terror among the innocent. Henrietta sees past the rumors though. She begins to see Simon as a kind man, and although he has a sordid past she is able to get the truth from him and really begins to fall in love. I fell in love with the characters. I love that Henrietta was shy and clumsy and had a slight stutter when she was nervous. It made her real and it made me root for her even more. The book is told from both Henrietta and Simon which makes it a great read. Simon seems standoffish at first, but as they begin to get to know one another you see a different side of Simon. One thing I loved most about this book is the slight element of mystery. I love that it keeps you guessing when the girls are having bad things happen to them. I suspected who was behind it and found that I was correct. But no spoilers here! You’ll have to read it yourself! I think one of the most magical parts of the novel were the intimate meetings between Simon and Henrietta where she healed him. His soft side was exposed and it made you connect with both characters. One thing I didn’t love was that it was a little on the short side. I flew through the book in one sitting. This is also a good thing, but I didn’t want it to end! I will definitely keep my eye out for other Fowlkes books about the Daughters of Amhurst. I can’t wait to read about her sisters, Sarah and Albina. Ultimately it had a small twist at the end where you thought everything was falling apart, but it all ended well. The sex scenes were not overly graphic, but had enough heat that you felt the connection and steaminess of the situation. Overall, I would suggest this book to those of you who enjoy a historical romance. It had great descriptions and voice. I gave it an A!
A friend wrote a review of this book that made it sound enticing, so I cheekily asked for an ARC to read and review myself – and I totally agree with her, this is a fantastic regency ‘beauty and the beast’ type of story that is true to the era and a totally enthralling romance. Following the death of her father, Lady Henrietta will have to vacate their family home to enable the new Earl to inherit the entailed estate but the new Earl is looking for a wife – if she marries him she could stay in the home which is full of happy memories and has her beloved herb garden. The new Earl of Amhurst, Simon Devere, has an unsavoury reputation, has a scarred face and has recently been exonerated of the murder of his mistress – but some of the ton continue to spread rumours and accusations, so much so that he is nicknamed the Black Earl. He also has a younger brother who is helping fuel the rumours and stands to inherit the title and estate should Simon die without an heir. For this reason, Simon has arranged to host some potential brides and their chaperones for him to choose one to marry. He wants one who is unattractive – nothing like Lady Henrietta Beauchamp – but he finds her irresistible despite her shyness, stutter and learning. She is also so attracted to him! However, he doesn’t want to be married for a house and is convinced no one can now love him because of his disfigurement. A brilliantly crafted love story where the two are so well suited but unsure of themselves and their attraction that it is easy for others to confuse them and deter them from achieving their HEA. Despite the obstacles to their love, can they find their HEA together? With mysterious illnesses, dreadful tabloids and a friend who is a rival for Henrietta’s love things are certainly not going to be straightforward for the couple. The story has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader entertained in a fun to read historical romance – an enjoyable read. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for this, an honest review.
I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was a little drawn out for my taste but the characters and plot were solid. Simon is dealing with wounds and scars, physical and emotional. Henrietta has some issues of her own, but the two together seem to bring out the best in each other. In a scenario where Simon has brought eligible misses to his estate to choose a wife, a schemer or two is also in their midst. This added a nice element of mystery and drama to an otherwise straightforward story. We are also left with the impression there will be a follow up story featuring at least one of the Beauchamp sisters. I look forward to it. *I received an ARC in exchange for an HONEST review
Two wounded people find the perfect soul mate in each other. The Earl's New Bride is a story of love, betrayal, beauty and pain. I was spellbound by how appealing this story is. A dark cloud of mystery hangs over Simon (The Earl). Bitter, disillusioned and disfigured he does not trust easily. Not willing to make the same mistakes twice he decides he will find a wife that meets his standards. Not a beauty. Henrietta is beautiful inside and out. She has a good heart and smart mind, but her interpersonal skills prove lacking. She keeps to herself due to a speech impediment. Simon is not what Henrietta expects. Henrietta is not what Simon believes he wants. Yet their souls call to each other despite the obstacles. I received an ARC of The Earl's New Bride by Frances Fowlkes in exchange for an honest review. I thought it was an enthralling read of courage and redemption despite the odds.