Monday, September 18, 2023

The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham, #2)The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lorraine Heath is an automatic read for me. She is one of my absolute favorite writers. I’ve read the first book in “The Hellions of Havisham” which I liked. The tension between Lady Julia Kenney and her brother –in-law was very notable in the previous book so I could not wait to see how Heath unraveled the story between Edward and Julia.

The background of this story is very important. First, Edward is a twin. His brother, Albert, the Earl of Greyling is the first born and has everything going for him. He has a beautiful wife, Julia and they are both madly in love. Julia and Edward have not gotten along. Julia thinks Edward is irresponsible, womanizer, drinks too much, gambles all the time-which is all true. Edward has always been in love with Julia and one night she stole a kiss from her, when she thought he was Albert. When Julia becomes pregnant Albert and Edward go on a trip to India to have a last hurrah. An unfortunate event occurs and Albert dies. He makes Edward promise to pass himself off as Albert for fear that Julia would lose their baby. Edward feels guilt ridden for his past and because he suggested the trip so he agrees.

When Edward passing himself off as Albert returns it’s very tense. Julia is pregnant and she notices a difference in “Albert” she attributes it to just mourning and tries to be supportive of her husband. Edward for his part feels very uncomfortable as he tries to portray his brother and mimic his mannerisms but at the same time fights his own feelings as he mourns for his brother and fights his feelings for Julia.

Although I love Lorraine Heath, for me, this story felt very uncomfortable. The funeral scene that they held for “Edward” was so sad and heartbreaking. Edwards own discomfort felt real. These can be seen as attributes for a fantastic writer-which Heath is- but I had to put the book down several times and come back to it. As can be expected Julia immediately wanted to continue their marital relations and Edward has to make the decision, does he make love to his brother’s wife under the guise of Albert or keep putting her off and add a strain to the already strenuous situation. If he tells her the truth he breaks his promise to Albert and risks losing his heir. For me, I would have loved it if Edward just came back as himself and the story unraveled from there. It would have been easier for me to accept. As can be expected the truth does come out and it’s not just a mere confession and it’s not just Julia’s wrath that he has to face.

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