HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL – Manda Collins
St. Martin's Press
England during the Regency
As the last unwed “duckling” (see previous novels HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE and HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE), Lady Madeline Essex is fairly certain her future lies as a novelist. Determined to do her own research, Maddie forces her younger brother to take her to one of London's most infamous gaming “hells.” Unfortunately, before she can accomplish anything, she leaves the lady's retiring room to find one of her brother's friends dying from a knife wound in his chest. Stunned, she cradles the victim until someone comes looking for her…and it isn't her brother.
The new Earl of Gresham, Christian Monteith, is back from the wars and learning to adjust to his earldom. He's not one for gambling, but when asked by the Home Office to investigate men who belong to a mysterious organization known as the Citizen's Liberation Society, Christian attends Mrs. Bailey's gaming parlor. He is shocked to see Lady Madeline there and then, even worse, to find her holding a dying man in her arms. When her brother disappears, Christian escorts the shaken Maddie home. Who killed Mr. Tinker, and why? Was Maddie's brother involved?
Because of her brother's gambling problems, Maddie worries that his disappearance will result in his being blamed for Tinker's death. Her friends, Cecily and Juliet, their husbands, and Christian, who is friends with all of them, advise Maddie to let the authorities deal with the investigation. But Maddie is determined to clear her brother, and no one can stop her. Christian is equally determined to keep her safe. It won't be easy for either of them as whoever the murderer is will do their best to prevent being caught.
HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL is the delightful third book from Manda Collins. Her debut novel, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE, introduced the three “ugly ducklings”, a name given to the cousins by some rude members of Society. Maddie has always been considered the most outspoken of the trio, and her boldness has possibly kept her from what her cousins are enjoying now—marriage. Christian has been removed from the ton and all of its silliness due to the wars, and now that he's an earl, he is beginning to realize that it may be time to settle down. His and Maddie's relationship is anything but romantic at first, though, as she is not about to take orders from anyone in her quest to clear her brother, least of all Christian Monteith.
This well written tale concludes with an exciting scene, and the ending is very satisfying. While I highly recommend reading the two previous books, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL can easily be read as a stand-alone story.