The Earl Not Taken by A.S. Fenichel
All Lady Penelope Arrington wants out of life is to not belong to any man and her Tuesday afternoons with her three best friends, Wallflowers of West Lane. After forging an unbreakable bond of friendship, the four best friends make a pact to ensure no Wallflower marries a man of bad character. When the pact gets tested, and one of their own is promised to a mysterious duke, it is up to Poppy to investigate. Unfortunately, due to propriety, London society, and – let’s face it- because it’s a man’s world, she can’t do it alone. Thankfully, one of the wallflowers has a very good-looking… I mean…RESPECTABLE older brother that is willing to help out…and she can’t forget what she saw when she was a young girl every time they are thrown together.
Rhys Draper has had to step into his responsible role as Earl of Marsden and head of the family. When his sister’s history of some marital abuse comes to light after her husbands’ death, he feels responsible for not knowing and taking action against him. So when her best friends, the Wallflowers, need a man to make sure it doesn’t happen again – he knows what must be done. When the investigation throws him and Poppy together to investigate this mysterious Duke, Rhys can’t HELP but be intrigued by his sister’s best friend. But he soon learns Poppy is not the type of woman that falls to an Earl’s feet, he will have to work for it. That makes the chase all the more exciting!
This book was a bit of a slow start for me. The beginning was a little generic and there were some pacing issues. HOWEVER – the book really changed for me when the two main characters take a certain trip together and get stranded because of the weather. From that point forward – I really couldn’t put it down. The book’s view on women, marriage, and sex feel modern- while still bringing that historical charm. It’s perfect for the modern reader with a love for historical romance.
What I liked:
Our hero, Rys, was EXTREMELY endearing. He was everything I wanted in a male lead and more. Can anyone say #ConsentBoner? I can! His words and actions were so charming, romantic, and passionate – I couldn’t help but fall for him too!
The heroine, Poppy, was funny, relatable, and had some serious trust issues. There were parts of the story where I just wanted to shake her for some miscommunication issues and some choices she made – but because of her history with her family, made her actions justified and understandable.
The relationship between these two is one that every woman would dream of. Rhys was so patient with Poppy and her issues. The lengths that he went to be understanding and accommodating with her were so heart-warming. For anyone wondering about the heat level – I would consider this book a medium-burn with some really steamy and beautiful intimate scenes together.
I LOVED the side characters. The wallflowers were such a fun group and gave me some serious English Goonies vibes. I can’t wait for the other books in the series.
Can we take a moment to talk about Geb Arafa and the greatness that he is? Can we make him a wallflower and give him his own story, please? SUCH an interesting side character. I find that in most historical romances set in England there is such a severe lack of diversity. I was so happy to read about him and also the little bit we got from Mrs. Bastian. Much more of them in the future, please!
What I didn’t like:
As stated earlier, the beginning of this book was a little slow for me. Also, and this is a minor thing, the spacing of the lines in the ARC version was a little close together. It made reading a little straining on the eyes. After reading the first few pages I got used to it, but I definitely noticed in the beginning. There were a few editing mistakes as well.
The Earl Not Taken by A.S. Fenichel [Kensington Publishing, 2020]
Expected publication: March 17th, 2020
Genre: Historical Romance
To learn more about the Author, visit A.S. Fenichel’s website here.
I received the ARC of this book via NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.