Cover Image: To Marry an Earl

To Marry an Earl

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There was nothing really memorable here. There were more thoughts than actual dialogue between the characters. I never felt the connection because they were never connecting...just thinking.
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I loved this book! The characters were so well written and charming. The story had a lot of emotional depth. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
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A delight of realness with stocks of historical details, I just adore the way their romance played out! 
I can totally understand her struggles with her father & how helpless she's been, it happens more often than not in real life too

But guys! The suspense in the romance, the way she reacts when she realizes her arranged husband was her long last friend, more increasingly how they got together in helping her adjust and how he looked out for her
Their dreams & goals were simple yet fulfilling, drawing our heart's deepest desire to love & be loved, to have a family, raise children 💙
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This suspenseful historical romance has wonderful characters. The story moves quickly and I could not put it down until I finished it.  It was a delightful read.
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To Marry an Earl is a debut novel by Karen Thornell (published in 2021). For so long, I have said I don't like historical fiction, but I am finding that I enjoy Regency novels and historical fiction with hints of humor. To Marry an Earl falls into both of those categories.

This story captivated me from the opening scene and turned into a book that I did not want to put down to get other things done. I liked Katherine and could not believe what her father put her through. The back cover describes him as "atrocious," but that does not even begin to describe him. Despite her upbringing, Katherine is a strong character and attempts to make the most out of her situation.

James is a likable hero. He is kind and goes above and beyond for Katherine. His biggest fault is not being honest with Katherine when they meet up after being apart for years.

I appreciated the author's hints of humor in the story. The following lines are a small sample that made me snicker (keep in mind the time period is 1812):

"The feeling of being on a horse was the closest she imagined mankind would ever come to flying. If she could have released her hands and raised them about her head, she might have." 

While To Marry an Earl might be a debut novel, the story flows seamlessly, giving off the air of a seasoned writer. Thornell wove a wonderful story of romance, mystery, intrigue, with doses of humor. I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys Regency romances and historical fiction.

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Romance, sweet, period;
Kate and Jame's story is a sweet romance, some deception (for a good cause), and some misunderstandings, mixed in with some bits of the past and present, that combines to make a lovely sweet romance, with a bit of intrigue.
Kate's family, her overbearing father, her ill mother, and all the circumstances surrounding her being offered to the highest bidder, was so sadly tragic. Kate, trying to understand her new future with a man she doesn't know, comes to his house party. James, who Kate only knows from the past as an impoverished young man, is the new Earl, (view spoiler).
Sweet tender moments as they reconnect, which also make Kate frustrated, and worried (as she believes James is not her fiance). The moments of concern with the threatened harm, the moments of joy as James takes Kate under his protection, and then finally reveals his secret/deception, which confuses and upsets her all combine to keep them not quite in a HEA.
This portrait of Kate, struggling with her issues of trust, and James with his longstanding affection and devotion to her, surrounded by a strong cast of supporting characters made for a lovely read.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. My opinions are my own.
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Period drama, sweet love story with a bit of mystery. Had the beloved romantic trope of childhood friends about to marry, for convenience/love. Additionally it is well written, following the speech of the period.

About the main characters:
Kate - Bright girl that despite awful dad and sheltered life was happy in her childhood with her only friend, until he that left without any explaining or warning. Now on the age for marriage awaits for a good opportunity for a better life.

James - From a commoner background, trying to do do the right thing despite the hurdles in his life. In a unexpected turn ends up with a earl title and the chance to “purchase” the bride of his dreams with his one only childhood love.

Would recommend it for a light romance read, where you get a bit more them you have bargained.

Finally, I wish we could learn a bit about some side characters, like Julia, Henry and Lucas. Maybe a side story?? Sequel?
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Yes - read it.

I enjoyed the story.  Always like when you hope for the best for characters and a HEA ending is what I love to read. There was a bit of a mystery that kept me wondering as I read.

I received an ARC from Netgalley to help me prepare my honest review.
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This was an enjoyable story. My heart ached for Kate and the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her father. I did have to keep reminding myself of that throughout the story as she continued to mistrust everyone, especially James. So much could have been solved with some simple communication, but when you've spent your whole life not able to trust those closest to you, that communication isn't so simple after all.
A sweet, clean read and I look forward to reading more from this author.
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Oxfordshire, 1812. When her bullying and indebted father not only insists she marry at once without a dowry but also announces he will accept the highest bid for her hand, Lady Kate Cartwright is understandably devastated. Fortunately for her, the successful suitor is the recently elevated Earl of Bowcott, who turns out be to be a young man with whom she reached an understanding years earlier. Despite the mercenary circumstances, James still cares for her and acts to save her from a much worse rival. Prospects for a happy marriage are promising, but complications arise: errors in judgment are compounded by misunderstandings, mistrust, and mysterious threatening notes.

As is often the case in romances, the failure to be honest about their true feelings leads to heartache, but the protagonists have other flaws as well: Kate is insecure and fearful of lowering her emotional barriers; and though well-intentioned, James has difficulty reassuring his skittish bride-to-be. Though it provides a warning of the psychological damage resulting from parental abuse, their relationship becomes rather frustrating, for the readers as well as the engaged couple.

Those who can empathize with distressed heroines and inept heroes will find much to appreciate.

HNR Issue 98 (November 2021)
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This was a light hearted read. It' was a pleasant way to pass the time. The pacing of the story was a little slow.
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Katherine and James... This was my first novel that I have read from Karen Thornell, but I believe she will be one I wait with anticipation for each book of hers that comes out. This was a great book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Try this wonderful book if you are looking for a journey into a historical novel that has twists and turns but a great ending.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
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I really enjoyed To Marry an Earl . It was a great way to be introduced to Karen Thornell's books. I am giving it four and a half stars. .
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Charming and engaging regency novel with a delicious couple, intriguing plot and fantastic story, I highly recommend it!
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Okay, this is a lukewarm review. However, this is my personal opinion and is not a reflection on the book itself.

It's a good book for a book of its genre. But I've found that lately I'm getting more and more harsh on books in this genre (e.g. clean Regency romance). I don't know if that means I should stop reading it or what, because ... I did still enjoy reading this book. And I would do it all over again, though I wouldn't reread it.

The characters were decently well-developed. I really liked James's friends and their families and saw a lot of potential there!

I also thought it was set up well. Though I realllllyyyy wanted the book to go in a different direction (covering some of their early marriage instead of being entirely about their betrothal period, short as that period was), the direction it went in was fine until about the middle when it started to go off the rails (more on that later).

I was personally bored by the longer descriptions and the long periods of Kate just *thinking* which I felt were much overdone and often redundant. However, I can see how a lot of readers might really enjoy this. To me, it just felt like a bit much, fluffy and unnecessary, and I had a hard time not skimming it.

That said, the plot was again intriguing, and there were some very pretty things about the author's writing style and the way she portrayed certain situations. There were even times where she made choices that were unique to her, and I really appreciated that!

However, there were just some things about this book that drove me crazy!

First, in my opinion, the way love is represented in a lot of romances these days is just off. And I'm wearing out on it. In addition, the way the heroine and hero viewed love was quite cliché (and unrealistic). Especially the heroine, who, like most heroines, seems to view love as some unstoppable force that she must resist despite the hopelessness of it all.

I'm terribly tired of that "I won't fall in love no matter what" heroine who eventually "succumbs." I dislike it for being cliché, I dislike it for portraying love as something it isn't, and I feel like it's a harmful stereotype, too. There are people in this world who make themselves too hard for any kind of affection or feeling to penetrate.

Inspirational movies and books make it seem like these people don't exist, or if they do, they just need a little drawing out ... but nope. As someone who struggles with letting myself feel emotions, as well as practically express love for others, every day, I acknowledge that they are NOT unstoppable ... and yet I need to have them. I need to accept that I need to have them. I can't just sit around and wait until the action of love happens or until I start feeling loving toward someone because I inevitably will.

And yes, yes, I am taking this WAY too seriously. I got married last month, and that's made me really serious about love in a way I haven't been before. xD It'll fade in time, and I'll be able to enjoy romances without any side-effects. However, right now ... well, no reflection on the book, but I am rather done with it.

Second, there was a big "plot twist" at the very end of the book that I hated, and I'd promised myself that if it happened, I would rate the book 3 stars. Otherwise, it would've gotten 4. I'll dive into that in the spoiler section, but basically, it was again not the book's fault so much as my fault. I was done with the cliché, and the book can't help that.

The Spoiler Section:
Basically, at about 50% through, the heroine starts receiving mysterious threatening notes telling her to end the engagement. I thought this was weird, as she has no power to do so, but the book never really addresses that, sooo? Whatever.

Based on some not-so-subtle foreshadowing, plus the lengths to which the book went to try to "misdirect" me, it was pretty easy to figure out who was sending the notes and why ... sort of. Even when it was revealed why, it didn't make sense as yet another cliché popped up at that point - the "insane, money-hungry mother who does random but easily defeatable things" cliché. Which is one I'm done with, too. (Surely not every villain in these kind of books must be simply insane, so to justify their random choices and lack of true motivation, and so also to make them easier to defeat? But this genre seems to think that's the only kind of villain!)

Anyways, these notes keep coming, and eventually, they threaten the hero's life. Heroine is worried but somehow doesn't manage to quite communicate this with Hero so to cause artificial drama. At the ball, Hero gets a note, this time threatening Heroine, so he publicly breaks off the engagement. He decides to NOT take time to explain to either his friends or to Heroine what he's doing, even though in less than a sentence he could've told a friend what was up and told him to tell the Heroine. But I digress.

Heroine is upset and just decides to wander out into the garden in the middle of winter wearing a ballgown with the Obvious Villain. Obvious Villain literally doesn't even have to try to get her out there - Heroine basically just follows. (Why are heroines so stupid?) Heroine, who is an excellent horsewoman and not encumbered by a heavy pelisse, is then overpowered by Obvious Villain (an old lady) and then proceeds to get away but TRIPS AND FALLS like an ABSOLUTE IDIOT who has NEVER BEEN ON A HORSE A DAY IN HER LIFE.

Like, I laughed aloud when that happens. How?! Is she really that helpless? Yes. Yes, she did. She gives herself a concussion and then just LAYS THERE throughout the next scene, doing nothing. Such a strong woman.

Anyways, Villain has a gun and is going to just shoot Hero when he comes looking for Heroine. Why does she think this will work? Because she's insane. That's the only reason she thinks that 1. she can actually shoot him and 2. it will lead to her son inheriting and then actually better her situation (as there is no way they wouldn't know it was her because SHE IS THE OBVIOUS VILLAIN).

To be fair, due to Heroine's incompetence followed by Hero's stupidity, this almost works. Excepting that of course nothing would come of their deaths because everyone would know it was Villain. But I digress.

So Hero comes out, is stupid, and then eventually, after some more artificial drama, they disarm Villain, Heroine is carried up to her room (not wounded, sire, but dead ... sorry, I couldn't resist), and everything comes out and all is restored. After like three pages.

I just ... I know I'm being overly harsh. I KNOW IT! And I'm sorry to those of you who loved this book. I'm the one who's in the wrong here.

But I'm just done with the clichés and the kidnappings and the stupid heroines who lose their brains just long enough for the plot to happen. Also, the incompetence, and the lack of intelligence, and I just ... I'm done. I'm done. That is it.

In summary, this was a disappointing book for me. However, I don't regret reading it, and I think it was all right - if a bit on the cliché side.

Definitely read this book if you love Regency romances! It's not Christian, but it is clean, and it's a perfectly fun read with a lot of engaging characters and an intriguing plot!

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Intricate story and um, what a gorgeous cover, am I right?! This is one to re-read due to the twists and turns.
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This was a very well crafted book! I loved the interaction between the Hero and Heroine! Ms Thornell is a fantastic job describing both sides of their perspectives! I truly enjoyed the setting and the side characters as well! I would read this again!
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This book gave me the warm fuzzies.  I love stories where friends fall in love.  The road for Katherine isn't easy, but  it is so satisfying in the end!
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After thoroughly enjoying this author’s contemporary Christmas story I was excited to read more from her! When I found out she would be publishing a regency I was definitely intrigued, and if I’m being honest a little wary. It’s tricky to do historical and contemporary and keep them both true to their genre. But Karen Thornell did it exceptionally and this story had everything I love about regencies!
I’m always a fan of friends to more, though this one had a slightly different spin due to the fact that they had been separated for years.
James was great and truly desired to do the right thing, even if he was misguided occasionally about the best way to do it. I greatly admired the way he wanted Kate’s happiness and safety above any of his own desires. I wanted him to tell Kate the truth faster than he did but I did understand the reasons he held back so I didn’t dislike him for that.
I felt so bad for Kate and the life she’d been forced to endure under her father’s thumb. She didn’t let it turn her bitter though and she had the kindest heart. She also had some trust issues that needed to be worked through thanks to her father and other circumstances and I was so happy to see her start to let her walls down.
I thought James and Kate made a wonderful couple and their romance, while a bit of a bumpy road was still so sweet!
I absolutely enjoyed everything about this book and I cannot wait to read more from this author!
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To Marry an Earl was a delightful Regency tale of an arranged marriage between two people who years earlier had been friends. There were strained and hurt feelings to overcome and a heroine whose emotions had been damaged so much by the actions of her father, that she was scared to allow herself to love. Add in a hint of mystery and danger and the tension was just right.

I really liked both James and Kate and especially enjoyed their time spent getting to know each other again. It was clear that James was already very much in love with Kate. Their time together was very sweet and I liked watching them fall in love. Both of these characters did make some decisions a few times that did not make much sense to me. Clear communication could have solved some misunderstandings, yet all ended beautifully. I also enjoyed the wonderful epilogue.

(4.5 stars)

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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