Armed with my library card, I have been working my way through Lorraine Heath’s back catalogue. She is a B-list author for me: I don’t buy her books, but I will pick them up, if they are close to hand. Reading the older novels, I find I like her better. I’m going to keep going until my library’s supply is exhausted.
As an Earl Desires is the story of the Dowager Countess of Sachse and the new Earl, a man who has risen in life from teacher to aristocrat by virtue of the vagaries of primogeniture and despite being named Archibald. He is referred to as Arch or Archie. Good call.
Arch came into the title when the former Earl, a complete bastard (figuratively speaking) by all accounts and the necessities of the plot, died without issue. The Bastard Earl’s young widow, Camilla, has taken it upon herself to train and educate Arch in his new life. There is just one tiny problem. Arch has fallen madly in love with her. Actually, there are other not so tiny problems. Camilla has secrets she feels with ruin her if discovered. She was born into abject poverty and very early on it is revealed the Camilla is illiterate. She is both desperately ashamed and terrified people will learn of this. All Arch knows is that he wants to both jump her bones and stay for breakfast. To add further plot complications, Camilla is barren and while Arch doesn’t care about continuing the Sachse line, she does. He needs an heir, she wants a Duke to secure her future.
A sweet story, As an Earl Desires, moved along quickly and entertainingly. It was nice to read a romance with a kind and gentle hero. Not that most heroes are violent and rough, but they are often very self-possessed and, for want of a less modern term, cool. Arch made for a nice change. Camilla is the self-contained one and her gradual surrender of her fears in favour of a better life was nicely done.
Also by Lorraine Heath: