This was probably one of the strangest historicals I’ve ever read (and believe me that’s saying ALOT). As I ponder just what to say about “For the Earl’s Pleasure” by Anne Mallory, I’m rather at a loss. My bet is if the setting had been contemporary, this would have been a big hit…but, at least for me, the era is all kinds of wrong for this one. Of course, she’s the author, not me-so onward.
Abigail has a BIG secret…she sees ghosts. If she were not titled and searching for a husband, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. But what peer wants a wife who may pass on her ‘madness’ to offspring? It’s a good thing, then, that her secret is very well kept-with the exception of her former childhood friend, Lord Rainewood. Ever since that horrible day, they’ve been polite enemies…slashing at each other with words at every ton function they both attend. So when Lord Rainewood appears to Abigail as a spirit, you would think she wouldn’t be so upset…right?
Valerian Rainewood never believed in Abigail’s gift. But after his older brother died and he became the Heir, he realized that he would have to cut Abigail’s friendship. How ironic that now she’s the only one who can see or hear him. Valerian knows he’s not dead, just being held and drugged somewhere; but he will have to learn to rely on Abigail for assistance…and her assistance will place her in grave danger.
So many questions were left unanswered. Why could Abigail see Valerian if he wasn’t dead? What really happened between Abigail and the previous heir? What was Abigail’s mother thinking!? There are more, but they would give the plot away and I don’t want to do that. Once again, I do think this would likely have worked in a more contemporary setting, but having a society-miss-looking-for-a-husband involved in these doings was just too much of a stretch for me. The ‘bad guy’ seemed to almost come out of nowhere, especially for a total wacko and that always bugs me.
The relationship between the hero and heroine was very strange; not a rivalry, not friendly enemies, sometimes almost vicious. Their circles of friends were so antagonistic it’s a wonder they ever spoke! Frankly, if I were Abigail, I’d have told Val to take a hike when he needed all her help. But true love must conquer all. Of course, I’m still not sure WHEN they consummated their relationship. Was it in spirit form? Does that count? Just another question I didn’t get a true answer for. I usually love Anne Mallory’s books, but “For the Earl’s Pleasure” was an uncomfortable read; almost jarring at times. I did finish, and I am glad I did. But I’ll be a bit leery the next time I see one of her works.