cover image Brave New Earl: The Way to a Lord’s Heart, Book 1

Brave New Earl: The Way to a Lord’s Heart, Book 1

Jane Ashford. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-4926-6335-5

Ashford (The Duke Knows Best) exhibits her skill with creating complex, intriguing characterization that feels comfortably in its period while incorporating modern concepts in an endearing, optimistic story of second chances, grounded in psychological themes of grief and parental neglect. Benjamin Romilly, Earl of Furness, has spent five years too mired in his sadness over the childbed death of his wife, Alice, to pay attention to his household and son. Young Geoffrey is precocious but wild. Alice’s distant cousin Jean Saunders, alerted to the situation by Benjamin’s well-meaning uncle, arrives with the expectation of bringing Geoffrey to live with his grandparents, but ends up remaining in Benjamin’s household. He begins to imagine what a life with new love for him and a mother for his son might look like, while Jean begins to let go of her resistance to the idea of marrying and having a family. Readers who crave deep romantic passion may find this bland, but those satisfied by cute kid and kitten antics, witty prose, and a message of redemption from difficult life histories will find plenty to love here. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Aug.)