Review: The Earl Takes All

Review: The Earl Takes AllThe Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham, #2) by Lorraine Heath
Series: The Hellions of Havisham #2
Published by Avon on April 26th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“Don’t let her figure out that it’s me, the sneaky bastard who takes what isn’t his. Don’t let her realize that I’m not her husband.”

FINAL DECISION: I love how Heath creates situations between characters that seem impossible and then goes deep into the emotions of the characters to make a situation work out.  I thought this story would never work and yet Heath made it a lovely romance.

THE STORY: Edward Alcott returns from a safari with his dead twin but is himself masquerading as his twin.  It was his brother’s dying wish that Edward care for his wife who is pregnant. Edward intends on pretending to be his twin until his sister in law gives birth.  Pretending to be his brother is more difficult than he expected since Edward has been enamored of his sister in law for years.  Julia is surprised by the changes in her husband on his return.  He seems more wicked and bolder than the man she married.  As she falls even more in love, she can’t help but wonder what has changed her husband so much.

OPINION:  I often start a Lorraine Heath book thinking “there is no way she can make this work” sometimes I even hate the premise.  This book was difficult to imagine from the blurb of the book.  I couldn’t imagine that a relationship that begins with the hero impersonating his dead twin to his sister-in-law was going to work.  For the most part, the book did work. There were a couple of rough parts that called for more acceptance than analysis on my part, but I got wrapped up in the emotional journey of these characters that by the end, I was totally bound up with wanting their happy ending.

This book does demand some patience from its readers as (1) you have to accept that Julia would not recognize Edward’s impersonation of her husband and (2) you have to accept that she will ultimately forgive him for his deception.  Some readers might not be able to get past these hurdles, but accepting these premises allowed me to become absorbed by the emotional conflict in the story which is filled with love, guilt, pain and joy.

In the story, Edward begins as the typical rake, but we soon find out that he is hiding a love for Julia which he always believed was hopeless.  His masquerade of a thoughtless rake allowed him to mask his feelings.  By pretending to be his brother, Edward begins to lose control of those feelings and falls deeply in love with Julia.

I liked these characters and especially appreciated how Heath walks the line of Julia falling in love with both brothers without diminishing either of them.  This is a difficult task and is largely successful — even if I admit that I like Edward better.

The central conflict of the story becomes that even if Julia and Edward fall in love, the deception will have to continue because English law forbids a man from marrying his brother’s widow.  The resolution of this story might seem like a cheat to some, but I really liked that the solution, like the conflict itself, is based on historical fact.  Heath explains some of the real legal issues involved in her afterword.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Fans of Heath’s other series might see some familiar faces.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE EARL TAKES ALL is the second book in the Hellions of Havisham series.  It can be read as a standalone although the first book of the series gives some further background on the characters and their connection to significant secondary characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


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