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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Earl's Defiant Wallflower by Erica Ridley

The Earl's Defiant Wallflower (Dukes of War Book 1) - Erica Ridley

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review

Yankee Grace has traveled to England to secure, hopefully, a monetary advantageous match.  Her mother is deathly ill back home in America and her grandparents are miserly generally all around horrible people; Grace's situation is a bit dire you could say.  Unfortunately, without a respectable dowry the ton is looking down their aristocratic noses at Grace and the seedier gentleman are dogging her steps while making bets at White's about who will tup her first.  Oliver, the Earl of Carlisle, is back from the Napoleonic Wars and hasn't quite shed his hero cloak.  When he spies Grace regulated to the corner like a wallflower, he appoints himself her savior.  The problem is that Oliver has his own dire issues to deal with, his father bankrupted the earldom, his bestfriend is catatonic, and now he is battling a serious attraction to a penniless American.  Grace and Oliver must decide if money or love is the path to true happiness.
 
First off, I have to bring up the fact that this did not feel like a full length novel, the first in this series was labeled a novella at 180pgs while this one is being called a full length novel at 106pgs.  A little confusing and the story definitely hurt for lack of pages.  Things started off well, if not a little bit heavy with the describing of looks and then frequent mentions of luscious lips, golden eyes, and enticing smelling skin. If there could have been more to the ending I wouldn't completely call this an insta-love but with a decidedly lack of substance I think I have to go there.  Grace and Oliver spend most of the book emotionally apart as they each need money and neither has it so marriage appears to be off the table.  There does seem to be some chemistry between the two but with the shortness of the story it never gets fully explored.  
 
If stringent on historical accuracy or British vernacular you might want to gird your loins, some parts get a bit rough in that department.  Grace also behaves with more of a free spirit in sexual terms at times than what felt natural for her character (not to mention the time period) especially a scene where she offers up her breasts to be "eaten", it made for a couple jarring scenes.  I do have to mention though, that their wedding night sex scene was wonderfully romantic and the soliloquy Oliver delivered was beautiful.  This is the dilemma I have with this author, I like her characters and she has flashes of brilliance but the lump of clay can't seem to get off the potter's wheel and become a dazzling vase.  
 
The relationship, various issues, and ending were ridiculously wrapped up quickly.  Grace and Oliver are forced to get married, so neither had to truly explore their feelings and come to a decision, Oliver's bestfriend just suddenly and miraculously recovers, Grace's family issues are no more, and hey, kiss your money woes goodbye kids, here is a (extremely fortuitous) solution!  It is all a bit overdone and hokey.  Even with all this, like I said, I still liked Grace and Oliver which I have to attribute to the charm the author manages to infuse them with.  I'm going to read the next book in the series and give the author one last try because of the promise I sense in the writing, I just hope it is sincerely a full length novel.