Lovers of Regency romance will be queuing up on February 23, 2021 for the publication of “An Unexpected Earl” by Anna Harrington. I’m probably a throwback to another era but period romances are a favorite of mine. The grandeur and excesses of that age offer an alternative to the grind of present day troubles. Escapism? Absolutely!
“An Unexpected Earl” is part of a series but can also be read as a stand-alone. In it we meet the newly minted Earl of West, Brandon Pearce, aka “Brigadier” (from his days in the army) and Amelia Howard, a spinster who lives with her brother Frederick. Due to his lack of station twelve years ago, Pearce was not considered a suitable match for Amelia but now with a title and wealth Frederick has no obvious reason to keep them apart. Only now Frederick needs Pearce’s help placing men in Parliament because he’s being blackmailed.
Amelia and Pearce unexpectedly meet again at a masquerade ball and, after their twelve year hiatus, it’s as if nothing has changed. The sparks fly when they’re together and this time they refuse to be kept apart.
As part of a group of former soldiers called the Armory, Pearce is investigating a criminal group known as Scepter that is believed to be behind the government appointments so he pretends to take sides with the blackmailer even though he knows it will not sit well with Amelia. But what will happen when Pearce discovers Amelia’s secret past?
Historical romances are heavily dependent on lavish descriptions to set the period scenes but this story thankfully keeps that fluff to a minimum. Character development of the two protagonists is very good Pearce is of course a heartthrob. Amelia however is portrayed as a passive pawn. She has accepted her brother running her life, handling her finances, doling out an allowance and “pin money” as if she’s not up to the task and she is grateful for his guidance. This is supposed to be a strong woman? Really? Her more redeeming qualities become evident later in the story though. The plot is well developed and has enough intrigue and mystery to satisfy the heartiest of appetites. At times the pacing felt like it needed a boost but on the whole it adequately held my attention. Three and a half stars.