I suppose the question is: “How much is one expected to sacrifice for the good of their parents?” In this case, Miss Angelina Rule has lived a life of luxury while her father has acquired a massive amount of debt in order for his beloved daughter to have the things she deserves. The fact that these are gambling debts does not negate the fact that Angelina’s father will be sent to debtors’ prison if he doesn’t make good on his losses. All Angelina has to do to save her beloved parent is to marry, but not the Army Captain she has loved since the age of sixteen, instead a man preselected by the Prince Regent (a distant cousin by marriage). While her father is thrilled that his only child will now marry an Earl, Angelina stubbornly thinks there must be another way to resolve the issue.
Then there is Harrison Thornwick who has suddenly inherited a title which he neither desired nor earned. An avowed scoundrel who haunted the Heirs Club with his friend Bray, he now finds himself able to join the group as a true member of the nobility. While rebuilding his family home which was destroyed in a fire, he is summoned to London to fulfill the Prince’s command that he marry Angelina. Thornwick realizes he needs to marry and beget an heir, but the new Earl wants to choose his own mate.
Yet, he is instantly attracted to the beautiful, yet unconventional, Angelina and, despite her desire to wed Captain Maxwell, decides to woo her for himself. Harrison has difficulty playing by Gentlemanly rules, and makes advances on the reticent, but passionate Angelina. When the wounded Captain finally makes his appearance, Harrison vows to make this a fair fight for the Lady’s hand and leaves Angelina to decide which of her two suitors she truly loves.
While, for appearances, the two agree to go along with the Prince’s dictates, Angelina has a plan to raise the funds to cover her father’s debts by her own efforts. With each of the protagonists having their own agenda, there are clashes and resolutions which enhance the plot.
Book Two of the Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels Trilogy, The Earl Claims a Bride, by Amelia Grey, expands on the friendship of Harrison and Bray (the Duke of Drakestone) as the two support each other through the whirlwind of activities of a London Season. Bray’s wife, Louisa (from Book One, The Duke in My Bed) also makes an appearance. A third friend, Adam Greyhawke, is mentioned, but he has holed himself in the country in mourning over the death of his wife and unborn child. His romance will be in the upcoming third book of the trilogy.
While there is a lot of conflict going on in the storyline, Grey needs to liven up her dialogue and reduce the repetition of the main character’s thoughts. There was an excellent story in there, but it got bogged down at times. Even so, while a little far fetched, it was a slightly new take on a Regency Romance. Three and a half stars.
I would like to thank Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.