Book Review: Earl to the Rescue

Recently, I read Jane Ashford’s Earl to the Rescue, a refurbished version of the author’s first book Gwendeline, published in 1980.

Earl to the Rescue tells the tale of 18-year old Gwendeline Gregory, whose parents have recently died. The book opens with Gwendeline’s childhood home being sold to pay creditors. She has packed her meager belongings and is planning for an uncertain future.

Hours before her departure, Alex St. Audley, fifth Earl of Merryn—a friend of her father’s whom she has never met—arrives on her doorstep. Initially, Lord Merryn is startled that the orphan for whom he is to care is not a child. He then informs Gwendeline that he and several other benefactors have decided to provide her with an annual income of one thousand pounds, as well as a small home in London. Gwendeline, of course, finds this all highly suspect and refuses his offer. The Earl of Merryn, being someone accustomed to taking charge, does not accept no for an answer. And from there, the sparks fly.

Earl to the Rescue is part old-fashioned romance, part gothic novel, and part comedy of errors. As such, it is a sweet love story (without all of the steamy sex scenes found in today’s romance novels), complete with plot twists, constant action, and mishaps galore. Although I enjoy comedies of errors and gothic novels (and even the occasional Harlequin, I must admit), I prefer to read them separately, not simultaneously.

Thrown into this mishmash is a hodgepodge of personalities. My favorites were Lady Merryn, the earl’s mother with a passion for writing novels; Miss Brown, Gwendeline’s former governess and the voice of reason and practicality; Carleton Ames, a cranky, quirky artist who hones Gwendeline’s talent for painting; and Lillian Everly, the witty, kindhearted belle of the ball. While I loved those characters, Gwendeline herself often frustrated me with her naiveté and occasional indecisiveness. Thankfully, as the novel progresses, so does the heroine. By the end of the novel, Gwendeline has grown up, taken some control of her own life, and begun to understand her own mind.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Sourcebooks Casablanca through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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