Review: The Earl's Marriage Bargain by Louise Allen

Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Historical (June 01, 2020)

From  After fending off ruffians with her parasol and hauling a battered man into her carriage, Jane Newnham finds herself unwittingly compromised with enigmatic Ivo Merton, Earl of Kendall! Jane always intended to become an artist, not a wife, and now she has no choice but to become betrothed. They strike a bargain that means she can continue to paint, but Ivo has awakened another passion in her—to uncover his secrets…


My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This story is perfect for curling up with outside on a nice day (or inside on a rainy day). With no scenes of an overly sexual nature (although there are scenes of kissing and some heavy touching), this isn't your average historical romance. The characters are witty and work well together with their romance developing slowly as the story goes on. Jane is definitely someone who not only knows her own mind and desires for her life, but is also intelligent enough to realize when her plan isn't necessarily the best one. Ivo, despite being a soldier and used to having his word taken as law, is patient with her (especially when he is exasperated not only with her, but with circumstances beyond his control). 

Where this story lost it for me was in the constant reminder that Ivo had loved someone else. He consistently felt bad for having any type of interaction (or feelings) for Jane as it felt like a "betrayal" to Daphne, the girl he had loved in his youth (who fun fact was not only married now, but had also been the one behind the vicious attack on him). This continued on throughout the story, even when it was obvious to everyone (including Ivo) how much better for him Jane was. Jane was nearly as bad, knowing there could be more between them, but consistently worrying about "the other woman" without coming out and asking him for an honest answer as to where they stood.

And of course, when Daphne shows up later on it throws a wrench into everything for no reason other than to provide drama and the "tipping point" as it were between the characters. I could have overlooked this if I felt as though we got a reasonable ending to the entire Daphne/Ivo fiasco, but it felt like the author rather left things unfinished there as well. We don't know what happened between them once Jane left, and I for one, needed more closure to their relationship than I feel we got. 

However, I know these things that lessened my enjoyment will be easily overlooked by others. I would read more from this author. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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