Review: Anyone but the Earl by Irene Davis


Title: Anyone But the Earl
Author: Irene Davis
Genre / Themes: Gilded Age historical, Rowing, Virgin heroine
Release date: 16 April 2019

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Goodreads
My rating: 3 Stars


Octavia Sewell is on track to be the next New York heiress to marry into the impoverished British aristocracy. There’s just one problem: the Earl of Brackley is a detestable bore. Fortunately, she has a plan that will scuttle her marriage prospects once and for all, leaving her free to follow her own interests. All she needs is to convince one of her brother’s friends to go along, and she knows just which one she wants…

Set in the Gilded Age of 1896 New York, Anyone But the Earl includes…
- a scandalous text describing the reproductive process,
- a best friend to help a girl out of the trouble she’s gotten herself into,
- midnight escapades,
- meetings under assumed names,
- Victorian flower language, and
- insurance fraud 


This is a Gilded Age historical, debut by Irene Davis. It was nice overall but not outstanding. 

It started rather slow with too much descriptions and setting the stage and no real action. I liked the heroine though. She is fierce and striving after independence, desperate to escape the arranged marriage her parents (her mother, mostly) tries to force her into. We see her trying to break from tradition, led by curiosity towards life, a desire for something different than just being someone’s wife. 

Enter the hero, a friend of her brother’s from the rowing club – good looking, instant chemistry. A wealthy young businessman, but he is still very traditional re marriage and women’s place in society. I liked seeing him change and acknowledge the heroine's wishes for her/their future. 

I liked that she didn’t have everything figured out from the start, she fumbled her way towards independence and living the life she wanted for herself. There was a gradual realization of her desires, both physical and in general, her dreams of the future. 

The action picked up a lot in the second half and everyone showed their true colours and there were some pleasant surprises there. 

I had minor issues – not a sports romance really, rowing was a hobby for the hero and his friends, I just expected the sports aspect will be more central.

My main complaint has to do with the heroine’s mother and specific incident where I found her alleged behaviour deeply problematic. It was never cleared with the mother whether this is true or no, there is no discussion/apology (assuming it was true). It’s a major thing and I feel it should have been challenged in the text directly.

Overall, this is a solid historical romance debut and despite some flaws here, I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

CW: Attempted assault/rape

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