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  • Cal and Phee: A Great Read

    West End Earl by Bethany Bennett, book two in her Misfits of Mayfair series, is an amazing, intriguing, and heartwarming story, that pulled me in from page one; not letting go until the end. For the past ten years Ophelia, Phee, Hardwick has kept herself safe and alive by disguising herself and pretending to be her twin brother Adam. As the land steward for the Earl of Carlyle, she’s was safe from an uncle who was determined to kill her, and all the freedoms a lady could only dream of. Phee’s life would be perfect, except for her attraction to her employer. Calvin, Cal, Earl of Carlyle is determined to lead a scandal-free life, especially after dealing with his father’s numerous indiscretions. Cal has also taken it upon himself to see his sister married this season; doing so with his trusted right-hand man, Adam. Cal’s sister, Emma, is more like their father, finding ways to do as she please, not worried about consequences or her reputation. After a near-fatal mugging, Cal discovers Adam’s secret, or is it Ophelia’s, and that her life is truly in danger. This changes Cal’s priorities, awakening his attraction and passion, directing it toward Phee. An all-consuming attraction like Calvin and Adam’s could become a problem if discovered and if they aren’t careful could become deadly for both of them. Phee, has learned much during the past decade being her brother, and has a plan to save the day, when Calvin’s sister finds herself in a compromised position; benefitting all three of them. This plan definitely includes a path for Phee to become the woman she has only dreamt of, able to be the wife of an Earl; specifically, the wife for Calvin. I really liked Cal and Phee, especially Phee; amazed at the strength and perseverance they possessed in dealing with adversity. Phee was amazing with her strength, determination, cleverness, and confidence, but also her vulnerability. Cal and Phee definitely shared a magnetic attraction. As they spent time together, they not only set the sheets aflame, but created fireworks with the chemistry and electricity they shared. Ms. Bennett wrote an emotional, heartwarming yet heartbreaking story that is not to be missed. She provided a tale rich with sizzling chemistry, intelligent banter, and the amazing characters who assisted Phee and Cal in obtaining a future together as man and wife. I highly recommend West End Earl to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

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  • Delightful

    Cal has been cleaning up after his father's indiscretions all his adult life. But when his father betroths Cal to a baron's daughter in return for a horse, it's a step too far. To escape the threat of a horrific marriage, Phee has been hiding her identity for years. After Cal finds out the truth about her, they soon begin a torrid affair. Will the lies and the dangers of her past come between them? This book is such a delight. The banter between Cal and Phee is witty and full of tension. The plot is well-paced and intriguing, so the story never lags. The side characters add interest and fun. It's a perfect Regency romance. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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  • Loved It - Excellent Writing - Flows Flawlessly

    I was very impressed with this author’s debut novel, Any Rogue Will Do, and have been excitedly waiting to see how her second release would fare. Well, the answer is in – I LOVED it. Cal was one of my favorite characters in the first book, and I am delighted he has gotten his well-deserved HEA in this book. The prose is outstanding, the story flows flawlessly from beginning to end and the characters are relatable, likable, and could easily become friends if we knew them in real life. Calvin (Cal) Carlyle, Earl of Carlyle, heir to the Marquess of Eastly, is a fixer. He always feels it is his responsibility to fix problems for his friend and family. He’s very good at that, but it is often to his detriment – especially when those family members don’t really appreciate it or him. They are vain to the extreme and just take him for granted. The Marquess is a profligate who moves through the world without a thought to anyone other than himself. He leaves illegitimate offspring everywhere, spends recklessly, wagers recklessly, and then just expects Cal to clean it all up. Cal’s sister, Emma, is just as self-centered and reckless as their father. She goes through her life without a thought about the consequences of her actions – until those consequences catch up to her. Calvin’s father has gone beyond the pale this time. He invested heavily on an investment when Cal had cautioned him to invest much more modestly. Then, on top of that, he made a wager he couldn’t possibly pay unless the investment pays out. That doesn’t trouble the marquess in the least because if the marquess can’t pay, the winner is perfectly willing to take Cal as his son-in-law. Cal has no intention of becoming that son-in-law, but he’s going to have a time working his way out of that. He’ll have to handle it carefully. Cal just isn’t good at telling his father no, even though there is no way for the marquess to force Cal to marry. Adam Hardwick, AKA Ophelia (Phee) Hardwick is a survivor. Adam and Ophelia are orphaned twins who were thrust into the guardianship of their vile, odious uncle Milton Keating when they were very young. At the age of thirteen, the uncle sent Adam away to school and drew up marriage contracts for Ophelia to marry a very old and odious man. When Adam accidentally died, Ophelia began living as Adam and went to school in his place and Adam was buried under Ophelia’s name. Now, she’s been living as a man for ten years and wouldn’t have a clue how to behave as a woman. That deception works well for her – until she is attacked – and her best friend and employer, Calvin Carlyle, comes to her aid. When Cal discovers Adam is really Ophelia, he wonders how he never saw it before. He’d always felt an affinity for Adam – and now he feels a full-force attraction that quickly becomes love. Cal has to manage to keep Phee safe, see that she continues to love him, and somehow manage to thwart his father’s schemes to marry him off to the winner of the bet’s daughter. It is fun to watch Cal screw it all up – the poor boy just can’t seem to go against his nature. Winning and keeping Phee may be one of those things he just can’t fix. What do I think could be improved? I think the wording, descriptions, etc. sound very American in what is supposed to be nineteenth-century England. Anachronistic word choices – also sound very American, but weren’t in use at the time – for instance, ‘scrapper’ didn’t come into use until 1874, and then it was used for a pugilist. It didn’t come to stand for anyone who puts up a fight until later. It isn’t usual for an earl’s last name to match his title. I guess it is just that word usages and choices, situations, etc. just sound very American to me and perhaps the author could spend a bit more time immersed in that period in England. However, the bottom line for me is that it was a lovely, witty, fun story featuring lovely people and I’m glad to have read it and I hope you will love it as well. The next book, All Rogues Lead to London, will feature Emma, Cal’s sister. I’m so looking forward to that because Emma grew exponentially as a person in this book and I can’t wait to see what happens with her. I also hope we see something dire happen with Roxbury AND I’d like to see Emma’s child inherit Milton’s estate. Grand payback I’d say. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  • Historical Friends to Lovers Romance with a Twist

    After finding out the premise of West End Earl, I couldn't wait to read it. It's a beautiful friends to lovers romance with a twist. I loved that Phee and Cal knew each other so well, but that there was so much more to discover as their friendship/relationship shifted. They were wonderfully human, both trying their bests, but also making mistakes along the way. The conflict between them was frustrating at times, but believable given the circumstances. I loved how strong and resilient Phee was, overcoming so much hardship and heartache, and doing anything to pull herself up from her circumstances. Cal was loyal and loving to a fault, often sacrificing his own happiness for others. His attraction to Phee after discovering her secret felt a bit abrupt, but their friendship had been so strong that it was understandable that romantic feelings might develop. I wouldn't have complained if there had been a bit more grovel at the end or for Cal to have realized his future options on his own, but it was wonderful to see him finally fight for his happiness and be truly vulnerable with Phee. There was a lot going on in the story with both Phee and Cal's pasts and their families, and I felt this made their romance stall at times and the story unfocused. It also made the book feel too long and some of the plot points weren't fully fleshed out/were resolved too quickly. For example, the resolution to the Milton conflict felt very anticlimactic after so much build up and a bit too convenient and unbelievable. It was still an enjoyable and entertaining historical romance though and I'm looking forward to Emma finally finding her happily ever after in the next book. *I voluntarily read an advance review copy of this book*

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  • A whole new spin on the friends-to-lovers trope!

    What a fantastic story! Unique doesn't even begin to describe this storyline. Full of surprises, this book had me reading non-stop despite its length. The author has a beautiful yet simple writing style that brings all the heart and heat to every scene. I adored the witty, snarky, wry inner thoughts of both main characters, and I really appreciated the sense of acceptance and lack of judgment when one is faced with an unusual situation. Cal and Phee are just so right together, yet the conflicts they face are real and seem insurmountable. I could feel every emotion, all the highs and lows, as they figure out how to keep Phee safe and how to manage the predicament that Cal's father has placed him in. And Emma! While I can't wait to read her book next, I surely hope her character undergoes some serious maturing before then. Even so, the trouble she gets into sure made for an interesting twist in Cal and Phee's story - one I can honestly say I've never encountered before! It should have made their HEA absolutely impossible, but in actuality it made it all the more attainable in the end. This story was so much fun to read, and it was terrific to see Ethan and Lottie again (from the first book). The author has a unique gift with words and I can't recommend this romance highly enough. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.

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