THE DARK EARL
Not since Norah Lofts’ Suffolk House trilogy has an author so brilliantly incorporated a home into a romance. Readers are sure to adore the outspoken heroine as well; her love of life and family are contagious. If the love story is rather typical the execution isn’t. The colorful backdrop and Henley’s ability to capture the era will enchant readers.
Harriet “Harry” Hamilton first falls in love with Shugborough Hall when she is 9. She meets Thomas Anson, son of the Earl of Lichfield, who must sell off the home’s contents to pay his father’s gambling debts. Thomas vows to see the house restored to its former glory, and Harry dreams of living there. Harry and Thomas become part of the same circle, each secretly attracted to the other. But free spirit Harry plays the field. Her suitors marry her sisters for love while she waits for the right man. Thomas must marry an heiress or lose his rights as his father’s heir. He proposes to Harry and they marry quickly and honeymoon at Shugborough. Life is perfect until Harry learns the reason for their hasty marriage and becomes suspicious of Thomas’ motives. Thomas sets about proving his devotion, it takes a near tragedy for them to realize how much they will risk for love. (SIGNET ECLIPSE, Sep., 416 pp., $15.00)