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To Be Loved by the Earl*

Second Sister is Best for Earl

Coriander Featherbottom(!) has always lived in her sister’s shadow. Considered the plainest of her sisters, she never had a season as her parents refuse to do so until her elder sister marries. The family expects that this older sister Rosemary will wed the neighboring earl, heir to a marquessate. Rosemary and the earl have a complicated history as she chose to marry a duke instead of him. Unfortunately, that man died before the two could marry, and Rosemary’s interest returned to Adam.

Cori has been in love with Adam from afar since she was a young girl, and she is unsure how she would be able to think of him as only a brother once he married her sister. However, that is not how it is going to turn out. The earl had his eyes opened to Rosemary’s true nature when she left him for a man higher in the aristocracy. Adam comes home from Italy, where he spent time to get over Rosemary’s betrayal. He finds her younger sister attractive in her guilelessness, intelligence, and kindness. On an impulse, he asked her to marry him. She agrees, and they are soon wed.

At the wedding breakfast, Cori overhears some gossips discussing the situation, stating that it must be difficult for Cori knowing that she’s married to a husband who loves her sister. Cori takes their words to heart, plunging her into despair.

Will the gossips’ words derail the new marriage? What precisely are Adam’s feelings for Cori? Why did he propose? Will the love that Cori has always had for Adam survive if she believes her husband still loves her sister? Will Rosemary attempt to ruin her sister’s marriage out of spite?

I loved Cori’s character at the start of a book. The author did a good job showing how she was treated as the second-rate daughter and what that did to her way of thinking about herself and the world. Cori is kind and just a little bit of a tomboy, climbing trees to get the best berries for a pie and aggressively riding her horse. I loved her relationship with the dowager marchioness, Adam’s grandmother. Adam is a good hero. He got Rosemary’s number rather quickly, thank goodness for both him and Cori. He comes to love his new wife rather quickly in a natural and sweet way.

I thought that Cori’s reaction to overhearing the gossip was a bit overblown. Her happiness in her marriage hinged upon the words of strangers? Sometimes I feel frustrated in stories like these when what are simple misunderstandings get out of proportion just because people don’t talk to each other. The other “evidence” of his supposed feelings for her sister is flimsy as well. The reason she mistakenly believes that he married her seems wrongheaded, too, even if she believes the gossips. Cori was such a lovely and independent character before her marriage, so it was sad to see her become so despondent (over and over at different times) based what she believed her husband felt for her sister.

Still, I enjoyed this clean Regency read. I just wish the heroine kept her backbone.