WAITING FOR AN EARL LIKE YOU – Alexandra Hawkins
Masters of Seduction , Book 3
St. Martin's Paperbacks
England – 18th Century
The Netherwood twins had caused trouble in their youth. The twins are so similar few can tell the brothers apart. However, Gideon had left England for several years, leaving his brother, Justin, Earl of Kempthorn, more often called Thorn, to his own devices and duties. Now Gideon is back and their mother is hosting an event honoring Gideon. When asked to find his brother, Justin finds him rowing a boat with a Miss Olivia Lydall, who has turned into a beauty since Thorn last saw her as a young girl. She has always preferred Gideon, but Thorn holds a secret about that relationship, and he is determined to thwart her fascination with his brother. It seems he shares much with his uncle, the Duke of Blackbern, who was the first master of seduction (A DUKE BUT NO GENTLEMAN).
Miss Olivia Lydall is the daughter of a baron who happens to be interested in a woman Olivia can't stand. Lady Grisdale constantly undermines Olivia and has nothing pleasant to say to the younger woman when Olivia's father isn't around. Olivia has always been impulsive and independent, but when Gideon kisses her, her outlook begins to change.
While being an upright earl, Thorn can also be a scoundrel, especially around Olivia. He has a somewhat estranged relationship with his twin, and another woman wants to entice him into marriage. Thorn and Olivia's relationship grows in strange ways with Thorn trying to manipulate Olivia, and Olivia's quick retorts and unimpressed demeanor at what she considers his pranks. Another person, motivated by greed, works against Olivia's best interests. Mathias Rooke (YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET THE MARQUESS YOU WANT) is a cousin and good friend of Thorn and Gideon, and brings the continuing Rooke family feud with the Brant family into the story with some unusual quirks. This is an interesting and fun read, especially as the foibles of all the characters are brought to light, and the reader is unsure whether to root for the couple or yell at them.