by Anna Bennett
Series: Debutante Diaries #1
Published on October 30, 2018 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
An heiress with a daring proposal. An earl who’s determined to resist her. And a love that just might be written in the stars…
Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…
A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?
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Historical romances range from too tame to way over the top and First Earl I See Tonight fell into the latter group. It’s not the first book I’ve read by Bennett and likely won’t be my last, but the premise of this one lost me by the end.
Fiona is a young miss being blackmailed and needs funds to pay the blackmailer off or her family could suffer. So. . . why would any sane person blackmail a young woman who has no money except whatever her father gives her? I might have believed it more if her father was being blackmailed and she wanted to do something about it but still. Hmm.
The whole blackmail thing was all over the place and seemed like it was included more so that there was an actual story than anything. Beyond that, there wasn’t much of one.
Match that with lackluster characters and it was just a mediocre read overall. Fiona was a bit of a ditz. Her decisions seemed overly foolish and made in haste to the point that she was endangering herself. And once the story was in full swing, I didn’t really feel the urgency driving her decisions, especially considering this blackmailer is holding things over her head. But I appreciated her sense of loyalty to her family, that one redeeming factor in all this.
Her gentleman, Gray, wasn’t really any different from every other historical romance lord I’ve read about. And it’s okay to have certain things be predictable in a romance. I expect that and it’s why I keep reading them, but I do like the characters to stand on their own at least a little and he just blended into the background.
Their romance was sweet. A few scenes kicked up the heat a notch which I appreciated but then everything went south when the drama attacked. . . No fire nation here unfortunately.
Part of the reason I felt First Earl I See Tonight had to do with the whole blackmail storyline but the OTHER part was what followed. Bennett threw everything and the kitchen sink in to keep tensions high except instead it just made the entire story far too outlandish to be believable. I’m not going into details to avoid spoilers but let’s just say I felt like I was watching a really bad soap opera.
This isn’t going to be the last book I read by Anna Bennett, I’ll definitely say that, but I really wasn’t feeling it. I wanted the fun romance and got too much other stuff to really get lost in the book and that’s where it lost me.