Continuing, she said, “That’s exceptionally conceited of you, my lord, to assume that you are Lord A—d.” Leaning back in her chair, she gave a thin smile. “I could be writing about Lord Archland. Or perhaps Lord Admond.”
“Lord Archland hasn’t left his country estate in a decade,” the earl answered, “and Lord Admond’s days of scandal happened when red heels and powdered wigs were in fashion. The man written about is undoubtedly, nauseatingly me.”
So much for that defense. “Oh, but you’re far from nauseating, my lord. In fact, you’re enthralling—to my readers,” she hastened to add.
Lord Ashford shook his head. “It amazes me that the citizens of London have such paltry lives that they’d care a groat what I did.”
“The provinces, too,” she added. “I have a thousand subscribers throughout the country.”
He threw up his hands. “Ah, that improves the situation immeasurably. I cannot fathom what my concern was.”
“As my paper states,” she said, “you are London’s most notorious rake. Of course people care what you do.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, a movement that emphasized that the width of his shoulders didn’t come from the work of a tailor’s artful needle.
“One might think that your readers would be far more interested in the food shortages that have resulted from recent crop failures,” he fired back. “Or perhaps they might be intrigued by the East Indian volcanic explosion that caused the crops to fail. Maybe, just maybe, they’d be concerned with Argentina declaring its independence from Spain. Did none of that ever cross your mind, Miss Hawke, rather than reporting spurious gossip about a figure as inconsequential as myself?”
Though she was momentarily shocked that a man as infamously dissolute as Lord Ashford would be so well-informed, she quickly recovered.
“I’d hardly call you inconsequential, my lord,” she countered. “Your family name goes back to the time of Queen Elizabeth. If memory serves, your ancestor Thomas Balfour won himself an earldom as a privateer to the queen—though others merely called him a pirate with a government charter. It seems as though scandal runs in your blood. How could the public not be fascinated?”
It was his turn to look surprised. He likely didn’t expect her to be so knowledgeable of his ancestry. But Eleanor was nothing if not thorough. She had Debrett’s memorized the way others knew their Bible verses.
“Because I am merely one man,” he answered. “Granted, a man with a somewhat extensive wardrobe—”
Of mistresses, she silently added.
“But hardly worth devoting page after page of precious paper and ink,” he concluded.
“You belong to a gentleman’s club, do you not?” she asked pointedly. “White’s, if memory serves. And what do you do there?”
Eleanor Hawke is a unique character in the historical romance genre. She is a working woman who built her gossip newspaper on her own and works round the clock to keep it going. She also doesn’t really care about climbing the social ladder. She is a commoner and knows she would never be accepted in high society so she harbors no delusions about marrying about her station. She’d rather report on their activities from the sidelines. I loved her point of view almost immediately. She’s smart and quippy and has no issues with speaking plainly to anyone, including a certain earl who barges his way into her office. She’s completely confident in herself and her abilities. No simpering miss to be found here and I absolutely loved that.
Then you have Daniel, Earl of Ashford. He immediately captured my attention with how he storms into Eleanor’s office. He’s determination to find his missing friend is something that had me swooning pretty early on. I will say that his need to blame himself did get a bit annoying overtime. Every time he mentioned it being his fault just gritted on my nerves more and more. I get that you could have done more for him, but Jonathan is an adult who makes his own choices. You certain didn’t force him into his life of booze and possible crime. Beyond that annoyance though, Daniel is awesome. He’s begrudging admiration of Eleanor’s hard work and his admission that he wished he had something he was so passionate about made me respect him more than I would have a typical aristocrat.
What had me loving this book is the same quality that usually sets romances apart, and that’s humor. From start to finish, this novel had me laughing out loud at it’s antics. I feel like most historical romances, at least the ones I’ve read, forget to include humor. They focus on drama and romance, which is fine, but that generally doesn’t garner a 5 star review from me. That’s why I love Julia Quinn so much. Her novels are all funny. If Eva Leigh continues in this vain, she’ll quickly become a favorite author of mine. But the situations she throws Eleanor into are hilarious in their own right and then the interactions had me so enraptured that I couldn’t put it down. I got over halfway through this before I convinced myself to put it down and get some sleep.
This is smart and funny and absolutey hilarious. It has that addictive quality that keeps you reading way past your bedtime. It also is very different than most other historical romance novels I’ve read. I’ve never read one with a heroine who is a hardworking non-virgin. If you love historicals but want something a little different, than this is definitely the book for you!