Review: No Earls Allowed by Shana Galen
It is a truth universally acknowledged
that a lady can do anything a man can do: backwards and in high-heeled dancing slippers. Lady Juliana, daughter of the Earl of St. Maur, needs all the help she can get. She's running a ramshackle orphanage, London's worst slumlord has illicit designs on her, and her father has suddenly become determined to marry her off. Enter Major Neil Wraxall, bastard son of the Marquess of Kensington, sent to assist Lady Juliana in any way he can. Lucky for her, he's handy with repairs, knows how to keep her and the orphans safe, and is a natural leader of men. Unfortunately for both of them, the scandal that ensues from their mutual attraction is going to lead them a merry dance...
You know what? I really liked No Earls Allowed. I read a lot of historical romances and this one surprised me in many wonderful ways. From the lackluster blurb, I wasn't expecting too much going in. But I love Sourcebooks novels and was excited to receive this copy.
First thing--ignore the blurb. Or maybe absorb and then immediately forget the blurb. It doesn't come anywhere close to explaining the complexities around the characters. But maybe that's a good thing, because then readers get to just experience the story as its thrown at them.
I usually get bored at some point or another--the heroine or hero is just too damn angsty, or too wildly and inexplicably attracted to the other, or too much time is spent on getting to the good stuff. But I was invested in these characters from the beginning. The story is told in alternating POVs, but you never get the same scene recounted from both characters, which so often drags the story down.
Juliana is not necessarily a surprising character, but she nonetheless a compelling one--a fiercely independent woman devoted to raising a houseful of orphaned boys. She eschews men and doesn't want anyone to tell her what to do even as it becomes clear that she is definitely in over her head at least a little bit. Enter Neil, who is a rather surprising character (but no spoilers here).
It's so much fun watching these two navigate the waters--of society, of the orphanage, of their relationship. The book keeps you on your toes up to the very end--seriously, for a minute there, I thought there might be a cliffhanger. Definitely no cliffhanger, but still a satisfying end (and definitely a satisfying steam factor, too). My only complaint is that sometimes Juliana is way too frazzled and I would have liked to see her have a little more competency early on? (But I may also be projecting a little here.)
Should you read it? This was my first Shana Galen novel, but it definitely won't be my last. If you're a fan of historical romances in the vein of Tessa Dare or Lisa Kleypas, you'll want to add this one to your TBR.
4 1/2 Stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Published March 6, 2018 by Sourcebooks Casablanca