The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath
Series: Hellions of Havisham
Also in this series: Falling into Bed with a Duke, The Earl Takes All, The Viscount and the Vixen
Published by HarperCollins, Avon Romance
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Romance, Historical
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One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.
After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.
For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.
Edward Alcott went on safari with his brother and twin, Albert. It was to be their last adventure before Edward calmed his rakish ways and joined parliament. Unfortunately, Albert is killed during the safari. Before he dies he asks Edward to pretend to be him so that Albert’s wife, Julia, doesn’t lose the baby she’s carrying due of grief. Edward agrees and brings his brother’s body back to England but tells everyone that it’s Edward that died.
Edward manages to pull off his ruse with Julia but the longer he hangs around her the more he falls in love with her. Strangely enough Edward discovers that Julia didn’t hate him as much as he had thought as she mentions things about him (Edward) that surprise him time and again. After she gives birth he knows that he should tell her who he is but he just wants to be Albert for a while longer so that Julia will love him even though he knows she would be loving Albert and not Edward – as long as he can be with her. Edward knows that she will hate him once she discovers the truth and he’s not sure he can bear it.
Julia knows that there’s something different about her husband but she thinks it’s just because he’s been away for four months and is now grieving over the death of his twin. She does know that she has fallen farther in love with Albert than she had ever been and loves the changes in him. When she finds out that he is actually Edward and not Albert she hates him, but love and hate are so closely connected she’s confused about her feelings for Edward. When she finally admits to herself her love for Edward, the problem comes up that because of British law they can never be together. Do they live separate lives and continue to yearn for each other or do they continue with the ruse and have Edward play the part of Albert for the rest of their lives?
Normally when I read romance novels I don’t particularly care for the characters pretending to be someone or something they aren’t. Knowing that Edward was going to be playing the part of his brother in this book truly had me contemplating not reading it but Heath had me connecting with the characters in book one and I couldn’t fathom not reading their story. I’m so very glad I did because I ended up loving this book.
When I read stories about people playing someone they aren’t it makes me nervous for that reveal. I’m almost coming out of my skin as I read waiting for when they are discovered. This one certainly had me on the edge of my seat but the author did such a fantastic job of telling me Edward and Julia’s story that I almost forgot about the deception at times. The emotions involved in every aspect of this story really got to me. Albert dying (and Edward telling how he died) had me in tears. Every time I thought of him dying the horror of it, it just made my heart hurt. And Edward having to witness it and the reasons it happened? Oh my lordy it was sad. Albert was such a good man and husband and I hated to read about his death but then we wouldn’t have had Edward and Julia’s story.
The romance was sweet and quite touching. I honestly didn’t think that I would like this book as much as I did. No, we didn’t get to know Albert very well in book one but he was a fine upstanding man that of course I didn’t want to die. That being said, I totally fell in love with Julie and Edward as a couple and wanted nothing more than for them to be together – but I just couldn’t see how the hell it was going to work! The emotions were so high and there was so much at stake and all the ins and outs of “being” Albert or telling the truth (after Julia found out) were heart-wrenching. I teared up more than once near the end of the book as it was a bit overwhelming. I also loved the fact that Heath didn’t diminish the love that Julia had for Albert or make her love for Edward any greater. It was just different and I so admired the characters for each recognizing that fact.
Edward’s character shouldn’t have been one that I ever liked. In the first book in the series you could tell that he could be kind to his friends but I never thought I would love him. When we find that for the most part he was more playing a part than actually being a total wastrel/rake/drunkard and the reasons behind it I understood him a lot better. I ended up liking him even more than Julia (even though I really like her too, don’t get me wrong) and that’s saying something about this author’s writing skill, imho.
The Earl Takes All is my favorite book of the year so far. It’s April and it’s my first five star read. I love this book and I highly, highly recommend it.
Rating: 5 out of 5