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Anyone But the Earl*

New York Heiress and Rowing

Octavia Sewell, known as Tavi, is a New York heiress whose parents are eager to marry her off to an English earl. Something strikes Tavi as off about him, and she does not want to marry him. In fact, she is not interested in marrying at all and starts to consider having an assignation with one of her brother’s friends so that she could have a child to love and make herself unmarriageable. She even goes to one of the young men’s place of business to make the proposition but chickens out before she does so.

Will Tavi marry the earl? Will she gather her courage and approach Clif again?

This book is an odd combination of a variety of things. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. First, you will learn a lot about rowing! Tavi is headstrong, spoiled, and seems to think only about herself. The earl is despicable, so the reader can understand why she wouldn’t want him. However, it is harder to figure out why she doesn’t want to marry at all, especially when she has a friend who has a good marriage and a sweet baby. Clif, her brother’s friend that she initially targets, plays it pretty close to the vest emotionally. He reminds me of Mr. Darcy; still waters run deep. Outwardly, he doesn’t show much, but as we see in the parts that he narrates, he is a man of deep thought and emotion. He is attracted to Tavi and can’t get her out of his mind. For quite a while in the book, there’s not much romance going on at all for any of the parties, and then it heats up rather quickly in a way that was surprising to me despite Tavi’s original plans for Clif. I ended up feeling sorry for Clif because of the way Tavi treats him; he’s a good man who deserves better than her! The book briefly touches on the Victorian language of flowers. This is a fascinating subject, and I would have loved to see it used more fully throughout the entire book.

In all, I found this to be a kind of scattered book that didn’t really manage to pull it all together to make a satisfying romance.