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A Wicked Earl's Widow*

Well Written, But Heroine Lacks On Occasion

Eliza, the heroine, finds herself at the mercy of her father yet again when she thought she was beyond his grip. He is an abusive man who has harmed both her and her mother over the years, and he wed her to a known rake (the Wicked Earl of the title) as a means to his own end, not caring about her happiness one wit. Though it took time, she and the earl eventually did come to have a genuine love match before he was killed in a riding accident when she was pregnant with their first child. Eliza’s father now wants to use her to marry again for his benefit, and he even threatens his granddaughter to try to force Eliza to comply. Her loving in-laws develop another plan, and on her way to hide out from her father, Eliza meets Nate when she attempts to stop hooligans from attacking an old woman.

I absolutely adored the hero, Nate. He is charming to watch as he becomes at first fascinated and then infatuated with the heroine; she affects him like no other woman, and the author actually did an excellent job of showing this. Right from the start, he could see that there was something more to her, a deeper and darker past that made her who she was and gave her the complexity that drew him in. I thought the author did a good job showing the effects of abuse in Eliza in a believable way. Eliza is at turns docile and obliging while at other times is filled with a rage that doesn’t seem to be within her character unless you know her background. I thought the scene with her whipping the hooligan showed her mental and emotional state with surprising complexity and truth. I loved little Althea. She was absolutely precious and could be as fiery and protective as her mother, as she showed in her first meeting with Nate.

I didn’t particularly appreciate how Eliza was so quick to want to give in to her father’s demands at various points in the story. She was never as alone as she thought, and she did have protection from a variety of sources. I just hated that whenever things started to look like they were (or even might) be going sideways that one of her first thought was that she should just go back to her father, accept the heinous older man as her husband, and give up her child to protect her from being drawn in to her grandfather’s vicious world. I also thought the title was wrong for this book. The use of the words “Wicked Earl” make you believe that this book has some naughtiness at some level to it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this is actually a very well-thought-out and well-written story of a woman who has been traumatized most of her life finding true happiness, love, and her happily ever after.

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