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.
There were worse places to find a husband than Newgate Prison.
Georgiana is desperate to keep herself, her fortune, and her father's shipping company out of her cousin Josiah's hands. Deciding that marrying a condemned convict, quickly making her a widow and gaining more power over her finances, is the best way to do this, she ends up meeting Benedict Wylde in Newgate.
A Bow Street Runner undercover as a smuggler, Benedict allows himself to be taken prisoner so that he can try and get some information out of his cellmate. With an Earl older brother trying to save the family holdings because of a father who gambled away the family fortune, he's in constant need of money. An heiress demanding he marry her but also making him sign a contract saying he can't touch her money, in the bowels of Newgate, seems almost Faustian.
First in the Bow Street Bachelors series, This Earl of Mine did a great job of hitting all the, somewhat becoming overused Regency London sights, Vauxhall and balls, and giving some new blood details like a submarine. The heroine Georgiana inherited control of her father's shipping company but reader's don't really get to see her in the roll, she spouts off nautical knowledge but for the most part, it was left to the side. Our hero Benedict is a second son who joined the Rifles and fought Napoleon, again a detail added to his character that could have used some coloring in. The first half of these two meeting and testing each other was an enjoyable warming story to fall into but the middle dragged with lack of sparks and the ending brought the focus on a Napoleon plot that never felt entwined with the characters, giving the story a lack of emotion.
“What if we don’t keep our marriage quiet?”
I thought the details of our leads was interesting, Georgiana running the shipping company and trying to fend off her cousin and Benedict having fought for the Rifles, owning a gaming hell with his friends, and now a Bow Street Runner. While the details were there, the coloring in was absent. I thought the author did a great job giving us the setting but the characters fell flat for me. If you read a good amount of Regency historical romance, you won't find much new here (except for the submarine!) and the lack of emotion breathed into the story was disappointing. There were also some plot points that didn't quite tie together; there being no prisoners condemned to die on the night Georgiana shows up, why the prisoner guard would go to Georgiana's cousin Josiah, and even some of the marriage plot of reasons given to keep it a secret and then not keep it a secret.
“I see you,” he said softly.
I usually bemoan series baiting characters but I actually thought Benedict's two friends, who are also partners in their gaming hell, could have shown up more, would have liked to have scenes showcasing their friendship and even Georgiana and her family, her sister and mother ended up feeling like caricatures. There is still no denying that the author has a very readable flow to her writing and there were moments between Georgiana and Benedict that flashed but for the most part, this felt like a shell of a story. I'll be looking for plot points that meld together better and more emotion and feeling in the next installment.