Review: Last Night With The Earl

I received this ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis | Goodreads

After Waterloo, Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, was presumed dead—and would have happily stayed that way. He’s no longer the reckless young man he once was, and only half as pretty. All he wants is to hide his scars away in his country home. But when he returns home and tries to sneak into his old bedroom in the middle of the night, he’s shocked to find someone already there.

Rose Hayward remembers Eli as an arrogant rake who helped her late fiancé betray her. Finding him stealing into the house currently rented by Haverhall School for Young Ladies doesn’t correct her impression. Her only thought is to get him to leave immediately. Yet the tension between them is electric, and her painter’s eye can’t help but admire him, scars and all. He might be back from the dead, but now Rose will do anything to make him feel truly alive.

Review | Rating: 4 stars

If you’re a fan of historical romance, then Last Night with the Earl is for you. This was such a sweet and easy read that did not leave me emotionally drained, but still featured strong characters and a solid storyline.

Eli Dawes has been dead for the past six years. Or so everyone thought after he didn’t return home after Waterloo. He was severely injured which left him horribly disfigured—half of his face was burned and he lost his right eye. When his father’s solicitors track him down in Belgium and Eli learns that his father passed away—making him the Earl of Rivers—he knows that he must return home. He’s not the same man he was before he left and he’s worried how people will react to him once he returns.

Rose Hayward was shamed and embarrassed six years ago by a man she thought loved her and who she planned to marry. Since then she has stayed away from Society, teaching art at her sister’s school for ladies and taking commissions for special paintings. She has convinced herself that she is fine. She’s gotten over what happened and dealt with her anger at her dead fiancé and one of his best friends, but when that friend shows back up, it all comes flooding back.

Eli climbs into his house in Dover in the middle of the night to avoid having to deal with anyone. However, when he makes it to his old bedroom, he finds that things have changed and the woman he could never have when he was in London before. Rose most definitely remembers Eli and is angry with him for the role she thinks he had in what happened all those years ago…

But when things are cleared up and she learns that Eli had nothing to do with what her fiancé did, the barriers she’s trying to keep between the two of them are slowly wearing away and she has to decide what it is she wants. Eli already knows he wants Rose as much as he did six years ago. The two of them have to figure out how to get over the past to move forward.

I enjoyed that this was a book with two broken characters that had to learn to love themselves and accept what’d happened to them before they could truly be with anyone else. Rose is a fierce, strong, and outspoken woman who is still dealing with crippling anxiety from something that happened years before. She hides behind her brashness and the school so that she doesn’t have to face what she perceives makes her weak. She knows what it is like to feel less than so she tries her best to help Eli and will not let him just accept his fate because he is not perfect anymore. Eli is honorable, head strong, and still dealing with a betrayal much the way Rose was and the changes in his appearance.

It was interesting how Bowen explored what this could do to a person. Rose’s problems were internal while Eli’s were external. However, what was taken from both of them was something essential to them at one point and what made them who they were and is what’s crippling them now. The two of them need each other to help the other see that what they are struggling with can be overcome and I loved that about this story. It was very character driven to the point that the plot was simplistic. Nothing too complex happened outside of the romance between the characters. Some themes and plot points were left unexplored or did not really lend anything to the story. I would have liked something more to come from King taking Eli’s painting and the gift he gave at the end. It was kind of just dropped in the end and it seems suspect that a man would just take a whole art collection to give it back to its rightful owner in the end. There was potential for there to be conflict when it was learned that there was another person who could inherit everything from Eli but again that resolved itself with no conflict.

But even with those things, I did truly enjoy Last Night with the Earl. It was an easy read that will not leave you feeling emotional drained, but will leave you feeling good and swooning over the romance between Rose and Eli.

*This review is also featured on The Nerd Daily!

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