cover image The Earl Takes All

The Earl Takes All

Lorraine Heath. Avon, $7.99 mass market (382p) ISBN 978-0-06-239103-2

Heath draws together a couple whose genuine passion and love are hard to resist in her second Hellions of Havisham Regency (after Falling into Bed with a Duke). Edward Alcott is shocked to become the new Earl of Greyling after his identical twin is killed on the safari that was to be their last big adventure together before the birth of the earl’s heir. Worrying that the news of the earl’s death would cause his wife, Lady Julia, to miscarry—a concern in keeping with the era’s limited understanding of maternal medicine—Edward keeps it secret that the earl has died, announces his own death instead, and poses as his brother until the baby is born. Heath delicately allows Julia to mourn her brother-in-law while giving her enough intuition to realize that the husband who has returned from Africa seems somehow changed—and she quite likes the changes. Inevitably, the former ne’er-do-well Edward must reveal the truth to Julia; quite realistically, she is appalled and saddened to realize her actual husband has died. Edward’s deception creates several barriers to happiness, and once he and Julia realize they’d like to continue being spouses, they must overcome an ancient English law that forbids relatives by marriage to marry each other. Readers will eagerly follow Edward and Julia’s pursuit of an unusual happy ending. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (May)