Another funny, quirky romance from Galen, featuring the transformation of a lowly thief into lady of nobility.
Marlowe is a thief, and has been as long as she can remember. But, it turns out she just might be the long-lost daughter of nobility, Lady Elizabeth. Which she learns when she is kidnapped off the street by Sir Brook and his reluctant brother, Lord Dane, an Earl who does not see the lower orders in a favourable light. Poor people are just lazy after all. Lord Dane beliefs are entrenched until he’s saddled with Marlowe, who opens up his eyes to the true world of the those less fortunate.
The premise to Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun is not unique, but it’s a fun set up for a historical romance. Marlowe is a street thief. She’s rough and doesn’t give a fig about the proper rules for things, all of which initially shock Dane. At least, until these very things that he finds off putting, suddenly become charming.
Having read and loved Galen’s Love and Let Spy I was really excited to read Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun. I love that Galen writes unusual and unrealistic historical romances; that’s the great thing about the romance genre, so often the impossible is possible. Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun delivered exactly what I was expecting. It was fun. Marlowe in particular was a really fun character. She came of age in Seven Dials and it shows. The words that would come out of her mouth were hilarious, but she also had moments where she was serious, especially when she opened Dane’s eyes about life as someone poor. In contrast to Marlowe, Dane was equally funny, but mostly because he was a bit of a fuddy-duddy entrenched in his own beliefs. This was a true opposites-attract romance novel.
Lord Dane was a bit of a pill to start off. His opinions about the poor and his status as a lord were off putting, if realistic. When readers are first introduced to Dane, he’s musing about the awesome speech he gave at Parliament:
He smiled, thinking of the speech he’d given at the last session. It had been a rousing denunciation of a proposed bill to allocate more funds to help the poor.
The poor! What about the military or the farmers? What about the deuced Irish problem? Dane had argued quite successfully – as the bill had been defeated – that the poor deserved their fate. They were lazy or preferred sloth to hard work. Dirty, uneducated, and immoral, the lowest classes were barely human. (p. 18-19)
As you can see, our hero, initially, is not much of a catch. After all, Marlowe is barely human according to Dane, and there are a few instances when he treats her as such. Luckily, Marlowe is no milk and water society miss; she has no problem demanding respect from Dane or sharing her opinion of his ability to live in her world:
“I said, I’m going to get Satin before he can get me.”
He did not want to ask the next question, but he couldn’t find a way around it. “Are we speaking of murder?”
She gaped at him. “I’m no killer. Besides, how would I mill Satin? I don’t have a weapon besides my knife, and he’d just knock it out of my hand.”
“Then you want me to…mill him?”
“What? You?” She started laughing, and Dane frowned. His frown turned to a scowl when her laugh continued. And continued. (p.225)
Had Marlowe not been such a strong character I don’t think Dane would have worked as her hero. As it is, Dane does start learn about the real choices open to those of the lower classes, mainly due to his interest in Marlowe, while still retaining some of his naivety about how the world really works.
This was also a fast-paced read, and as a result I don’t think that it ever felt overly emotional. I found that Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun relied more on comedy and the outrageous rather than emotional depth. And this is where my small disappointment comes in. Marlowe was lost to her parents as a child, but there is not much time spent on their reunion, and I would have really liked to this to have been part of the book. Deep emotional territory is never waded into in this one. But, if you looking for an action packed tale this is a good choice.
I also didn’t find the romance between Dane and Marlowe to be overly emotional either. Their initial attraction required a pretty hefty suspension of belief. I’m not convinced that any woman, when faced with abduction, would really be thinking about how attractive her abductor is. Marlowe’s fear disappears suspiciously quickly. Personally, I would have liked to have seen this develop after the kidnapping aspect had been resolved. That said, Marlowe and Dane’s inconvenient attraction did prove to be rather amusing from the start.
Lastly, the secondary character were also very interested and they have piqued my interest in future books in the series. For example, Marlowe’s friend Gideon is of particular interest as is Dane’s younger sister, Susanna. Call me crazy, but I’d love to see the author throw those two together. I can’t wait to read what comes next in this series, and I know it will be something fun and not exactly historically accurate.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
For another thieving heroine, try Jennifer Ashley’s Rules for a Proper Governess. This one relies on suspense rather than humour to keep the reader’s interest, but I think fans of Marlowe will also like Bertie.
If you enjoyed the humour to Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun, a good follow-up would be Amanda Forester’s A Midsummer’s Bride. The set up is not exactly realistic, but it is funny and lighthearted, which I think will appeal to Galen’s fans.
And lastly, for another “reform the poor person” plot, you can’t go wrong with Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do. Not only is Dare hilarious, this one also packs the emotional punch that I found lacking in Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun.