THE EARL NEXT DOOR  Amelia Grey
First Comes Love Series
St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-1-2502-1430-0
June 2019

England 19 th  Century

Upon the death of her husband, Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, feels a weight lifted from her. Free of the negative and degrading atmosphere of her marriage, Adeline and two of her friends, also widows, have started a girls' boarding school on Adeline's property specifically for the daughters of the crew of the  Salty Dove . The three women lost their husbands in the sinking of the ship, and all feel a sense of responsibility to the families. Adeline had purchased a home with a larger house at the rear of the property that the three converted into the school.

Adeline's neighbor, Lord Lyonwood, visits Adeline at the urging of his aunt, who suspects there is something illegal going on. Unfortunately, he arrives at an inopportune time, and Adeline is anything but impressed with the earl next door. They have a heated discussion, so things don't start off too well. Still, Lyon is rather attracted to the outspoken countess. He has maintained his bachelorhood mostly because he disapproves of his father's philandering ways (the man is on his way to his fourth marriage). Lyon is determined not to follow in his footsteps.

With the arrival of the girls to the new Seafarer's School, the earl is startled out of bed one morning with the shrieks and screams of the children. He marches angrily over to confront them, but instead scares the girls and makes Adeline furious.

Chastened, Lyon sends a gift to the school, and soon Adeline is having different feelings for her neighbor. Still, she is far from wanting anything that might lead to marriage. One husband was enough for her.

THE EARL NEXT DOOR is a sweet tale that starts off with a rocky meeting, even though Adeline and Lyon have one thing in common no commitments with the opposite sex. However, it becomes apparent that it's just that which makes them perfect for each other. Will family and friends be able to coerce them into seeing what is obvious to them?

The first book in the  First Comes Love trilogy will make readers sigh, smile, and wish for the happy ending both Adeline and Lyon deserve. THE EARL NEXT DOOR is a wonderful start to summer reading.

Jani Brooks