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Avenging the Earl's Lady*
Definitely Not a Standalone
I will admit to feeling cast adrift for quite a while in this book. It is the fifth book of the series, and I hadn’t read any previous ones, so I felt I was dropped completely in the middle of a bigger story about which I knew nothing. The author didn’t say in the description that this wasn’t a standalone and that you really did have to read the other books to understand what was going on in this one. I really think authors should do that. For romances in particular, just because a book is in a series doesn’t mean that it is part of an episodic set of novels. Usually, in fact, in the books that I read, each book in a series is about a different couple and only marginally relates to a bigger story and may only peripherally mention characters from other books. So I really did feel confused about what was happening at first, who everybody was, and what their backstory was. Literally, I did feel like I was plopped down in the middle of something because the author did state in multiple places that certain important events only happened just a few days or weeks prior. So, it would appear that this book was really just a continuation of the previous book with, perhaps, only a slight change of emphasis to make it about the main couple.
The one thing I did like about this book is that it featured an older couple as the hero and heroine. While they are not ancient, the hero is on the cusp of becoming a grandfather, and the heroine is trying to help her lackluster son get out of debt. Probably because I didn’t know these characters from the other books, I found the hero a bit boorish and the heroine a bit naïve in the dealings with her son. Why would any woman give up so much and go to such lengths for someone who has made such a wreck of his life, even if she is his mother? She is definitely what we in modern times would call an enabler. I found myself not liking the story despite the fact that I usually do like romances with more mature couples, and I wonder if that is because I did not read previous books of the series. Definitely, do not let this be the first book you read of the series; you need to have read the other books to make any sense of it.