Fri
Oct 2 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Manda Collins’s Good Earl Gone Bad (October 6, 2015)

Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins

Manda Collins
Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy #2) 
St. Martin's Press / October 6, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

TEMPTING FATE

Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift father offers her at the gaming tables, she is given a difficult choice-wed the Earl of Mainwaring, an infamous gamester with no respect for her skills with the reins, or face charges for the murder of a member of the infamous Lords of Anarchy. Either way she'll have to clear her name. Can she count on her husband's help the way she has begun to count on his kisses?

RISKING ROMANCE

All Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, wanted was a night of cards. But by the end of the evening he's walked away with a fortune-and a bride who's suspected of murder. Jasper knows Hermione is passionate about her unorthodox membership in the Lords of Anarchy, but he's certain she would never kill to keep it. Can he protect his headstrong wife from prosecution and a ruthless killer without endangering both their hearts in the process?

Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins is a fun historical romp featuring gambling, a forced marriage amongst friends, and a woman born way before her time.

Hermione Upperton is unconventional, to say the least. She is the first female to join the Lords of Anarchy, a Driving Club historically exclusive to only men. The Earl of Mainwaring, Jasper Fawley, is initially none too happy about her membership. Though he admits that her talent with driving horses matches or bests many of the men in the club, eventually coming to a place of admiration for her tenacity.

On what is to be a momentous day for her first outing, Hermione is made the ultimate loser when her father gambles away her horses to a former member of the club. But all is not lost for Hermione, and this is what I love most about this story. Hermione is no foot mat. While society dictates that she relinquish everything to her father, she is not without her own independence. Instead of wallowing in sadness and pity, she holds her head high and stands up to her father and those that scorn her.

His words brought her up sharp.

“Why were you here to see Papa?” she asked in a tight voice, though she had a very good idea.

Mainwaring’s look of discomfort only confirmed it.

“It is not your responsibility to confront him over my horses,” she said firmly. I appreciate your concern, but there is no need for you to fight my battles for me.”

…She was finished with blind obedience to the strictures society imposed upon her. Especially since her father seemed so unconcerned with his own actions.

In addition, it is Hermione’s independence and intelligence that attracts Mainwaring; where we find a foundation of friendship which becomes the basis for their eventual love. Unfortunately, Mainwaring has a funny way of showing his admiration for her when he himself gambles for her hand behind her back. Not exactly fodder for romance. And not exactly proving his decency and propriety to us readers.

But Jasper slowly wins Hermione and thankfully, me over. He really isn’t as bastardly as his gambling stunt suggests.

As if she sensed his gaze, she lifted her lids and locked eyes with him. “Why did you accept his wager?” she asked softly.

Unable to look away, he stepped into her, liking the way she held her own with him. “The truth is, I was afraid he’d lose you to someone else,” he admitted. “And I couldn’t have endured knowing you belonged to anyone else.”

The affection between Hermione and Jasper only blossoms as our characters develop and we see how much Jasper supports her.

Hermione found herself wanting to object to being made out to be such a poor spirited creature when Mainwaring surprised her by speaking up.

“I have little doubt that Lady Hermione would be able to hold her own against those two, or any other harpies who might decide to go after her.” At Hermione’s gasp, he winked at her. “This is, you must recall, the same lady who persisted in her quest to join a driving club until one finally invited her in. That is no small feat.”

No small feat indeed, Lady Upperton.

If you like your historical romance to feature a strong female protagonist and a male that makes us swoon as he continues to champion her, this is a lovely choice. Add in a murder mystery and you’ll be eager to find out what happens in the end.

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins, available on October 6, 2015: 

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Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance and teaches sociology part time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu

 

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