THE UNTAMED EARL – Valerie Bowman
Playful Brides Series, Book 5
St. Martin's Paperbacks
September 1816, London
Three years ago, Lady Alexandra Hobbs fell in love. She was fifteen and it was the night of her sister's come-out ball, the ball Alexandra was too young to attend. Not that it mattered; Alexandra knew she would never be the beauty her sister Lavinia was. Later, as she looked out the window of her room, she saw two young bucks from the party giving a hard time to her brother Thomas, thirteen, and his friend Will, the stable boy. Thomas rushed to Will's defense as they made fun of his stutter, but Thomas was hardly a match for them. Her shouting down at them was useless as well. But then a hero appeared down below and put them to route. So grand, so handsome, so wonderful. The gentleman was Lord Owen Monroe, and she was determined to marry him someday.
The time has finally come for Alexandra to make her come-out, but her parents say she cannot marry before her sister. And now her father and Owen's have made an agreement for their children to marry . . . Owen and Lavinia!
Lord Owen could never please his father, so he lives a fast life. His reputation is that of a rake, but his looks and manners, as well as his being an earl's heir make him welcome in Society. But he's about to lose his freedom. His father gives him an ultimatum: marry the daughter of the Duke of Huntley, Lady Lavinia Hobbs, or have his funds completely cut off. Not only must he marry her, he has a month to make her fall in love with him. That should be no problem for him; women all love him.
The lady is beauteous, but she has been available for three years with not one offer. The truth is she's completely spoiled and a shrew with an impossible idea of the perfect man.
Lady Alexander has come a long way since the night she fell in love. She's become much braver, enough so that she can sneak out to help the poor. Is she brave enough and clever enough to go after the man she loves once she determines Lavinia doesn't want him?
The Playful Bride series grew from a trilogy about three young ladies of the ton . They and the friends they made along the way rally around Alex (one of them is Owen's sister). Alexandra may or may not find them helpful in her endeavors.
THE UNTAMED EARL fits in nicely with the earlier novels. Alex is likable, and we learn that Owen is not completely the jaded rake he seems. The whole story is fun, if a bit aggravating when plans go wrong, but the best part is watching Owen come into his own.