THE INFORMAL EARL
The Earl of Llandath seemed intent on thoroughly disrupting young and lovely Miss Kate Vaughn's life. When this dark and handsome nobleman returned from abroad to reclaim his ancestral estate, he raised clouds of speculation about where he had been and what he had done.
Then, most unfortunately, he caused Kate to lose here position in the wealthy Stockwood household and shattered her hopes of finding true love with the gallant and idealistic Stockwood heir. And to add to Kate's distress, as she trudged wearily along the highway toward a fearful future and a quite probably dreadful fate, the earl swept her up into his coach and informed her that he would take charge of her whether she wanted him to or not.
Kate was at the mercy of a lord she had every reason to loathe. And mercy was the one thing that the Earl of Llandath had no intention of offering...
I have more than a few doubts on how to review this story. First of all Llandath is not the dark and mysterious man that the blurb seems to suggest and Kate is well able to get herself in trouble without his help.
She is a young lady's companion and fallen in love with the young lady's brother. Her love is reciprocated but you can easily see that the boy is a weakling and that nothing will come of it. When she meets Llandath while walking the fields Kate has no problem is pretending that she is part of the family she serves and making him believe she is a well born lady. Llandath also pretends to be someone else but when later he visits the house expecting to find her the deception is revealed and Kate finds herself out of a job and with no beau because her suitor refuses to stand up to his mother. When Llandath encounters her walking the streets in the rain he decides to help her find a new job. The new job, surprinsingly, is as an actress in a theatre company.
There are several things that I felt could have been better explained, Llandath's past for instance remains a bit too mysterious. It's also obvious from the beginning that he is helping Kate because he is attracted to her but she never seems to see it. Then I'm not sure that just because Kate is good at pretending and imagining stories that she would be a good actress. But she quickly becomes that company's main attraction. She also keeps pining for her lost beau for too much time.
The story does have some attempts at humour. Not enough to make this a funny story though which left me undecided where the author wanted to take this. Especially after Kate's former suitor and his sister both end up in the care of Kate I had my doubts about the plausibility of all this and couldn't help being a bit sorry for Llandath who didn't seem to be any close to getting his HEA.
So, not exactly to my taste I'm afraid and since I wasn't really invested in the characters the whole story dragged a lot in the middle and later parts. People who like to read about theater settings might find this interesting though.