An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Point-of-View: 1st & 3rd
Genres: Historical Romance
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A witty and moving story from the acclaimed author of A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby, about the lengths to which a woman will go for the love of her child…and the love of a man who knows her worth. Breaking with traditional Regency rules and customs, Vanessa Riley pens an unforgettable story perfect for fans of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Eloisa James looking for something fresh and stirring!
Masterminded by the ton's most clever countess, the secret society The Widow's Grace helps ill-treated widows regain their reputations, their families, and even find true love again--or perhaps for the very first time...
Surviving a shipwreck en route to London from Jamaica was just the start of personal maid Jemina St. Maur's nightmare. Suffering from amnesia, she was separated from anyone who might know her and imprisoned in Bedlam. She was freed only because barrister Daniel Thackery, Lord Ashbrook, was convinced to betray the one thing he holds dear: the law. Desperate to unearth her true identity, Jemina's only option is to work outside the law--which means staying steps ahead of the formidable Daniel, no matter how strongly she is drawn to him...
Married only by proxy, now widowed by shipwreck, Daniel is determined to protect his little stepdaughter, Charlotte, from his family's scandalous reputation. That's why he has dedicated himself not just to the law, but to remaining as proper and upstanding--and boring--as can be. But the closer he becomes to the mysterious, alluring Jemina, the more Daniel is tempted to break the very rules to which he's dedicated his life. As ruthless adversaries close in, will the truth require him and Jemina to sacrifice their one chance at happiness?
Jemima St. Maur was put into Bedlam after a shipwreck. She has amnesia and couldn’t remember who she was, she still can’t remember and seeks the truth of her past. She’s saved (in book one of this series) by Daniel Thackery, a barrister who helps his aunt get widows out of trouble.
Daniel was married by proxy to Phoebe, who was also on the ship that went down, but his wife didn’t survive. He was presented with a baby who he believed was Phoebe’s child, even though she had never mentioned a child in her letters. He decides to raise the child as his own.
Two years later Jemima and Daniel have a bit of a love/hate relationship. They don’t necessarily get a long, but when they’re together there’s a very strong attraction. Daniel finally decides that he has mourned for Phoebe long enough and wants to make Jemima his mistress. Jemima’s not opposed to the idea, but she is wary of Daniel as she’s positive he’s keeping information from her about her past and the shipwreck.
This was my first read by Vanessa Riley. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style as it seemed a bit all over the place. I also didn’t feel that the hero and heroine actually had a lot of chemistry.
I liked Jemima…to a point. She was pretty headstrong, and I liked that about her. That said, I felt the author took that too far and went into I’m-so-headstrong-I’m-going-to-make-stupid-decisions territory. There was also the constant on/off with Daniel as Jemima couldn’t decide if she was going to trust him or not. Granted, she had every reason not to trust him as he’d kept a lot of stuff (about her) to himself. She wasn’t even aware she’d been in a shipwreck until he told her – two years later! Still, the on-again off-again love was annoying at times.
Daniel was a smart man – a barrister who worked for the crown. Even so, he was looked down upon because he was mulatto. Even when he inherited an Earldom, people still turned their noses up at him. He was a good man for taking in the baby (Hope) and raising her, and he was a good father. He helped his aunt with her business of saving widows and their families. I admired his dedication to his aunt and her cause, as well as his dedication to Hope and fatherhood in general. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like him all that much as a man. He kept so much a secret, even when his marriage was failing, he still couldn’t come completely clean. I found it so frustrating.
Overall I didn’t find the story very satisfying. Not liking the couple as a couple put a damper on the whole experience. While I really loved the blurb for this book, the story itself just didn’t do it for me in the end.
Rating: 3 out of 5