Review: What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels

What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels (The Redgraves #1)
Historical Romance
November 20, 2012

Reviewed by May 

Favorite quote: “Maribel has seen more cocks than any three generations of hens.”

About the book (from author’s website):

Gideon Redgrave, eldest child of the late Earl of Saltwood, refuses to be humbled by the scandal that once tore his family apart. He’s built his life in London society around one rule: trust no one. So the last thing he wants is to play guardian and role model to a headstrong boy… or to engage in a battle of wills with the boy’s spirited half sister, who is fighting Gideon for custody.

Beautiful and bold, young widow Jessica Linden proves to be a formidable and passionate adversary. But the more they lock horns, the more Gideon realizes he’d prefer to have Jessica on his side…and in his arms. Especially now that a new threat-sprung from his father’s supposedly defunct secret society-is poised to destroy the Redgraves once and for all.

This is a new series from Kasey Michaels, and as there are many elements of her writing that I enjoy I didn’t hesitate to pick up this book. The set-up is strong. There are elements of mystery with this secret society as well as a strong romance and chance to find true love for two people who never thought that would be in the cards for themselves.

Indeed, the chemistry and sparks flying between Gideon and Jessica had me turning the pages quickly.

“And, much as you may believe yourself irresistible, I am more than confident I can stumble along through the remainder of my days without learning, firsthand, and, needless to say, most intimately, whether or not you are a true redhead. In short, I am willing to accept your apology and move on.”

She was certain now she looked as if her eyes would simply pop out of her head. “You… you… how dare you!”

He sighed and shook his head, as if saddened by her outburst. “Make up your mind, Jessica. Harlot or genteel widow fallen on hard times. Which is it to be?”

I found both characters extremely likeable, and I enjoyed seeing how the pair, despite themselves, came to fall in love. Gideon is a man who stands alone, and watching him come to care for Jessica, and watching Jessica be forced to face her past and move on with her life was well done and unlike many novels these days, I could clearly see why these two were drawn to one another.

He would banish her past. He’d chase away every last shadow. He felt all-powerful. She made him all-powerful.

This isn’t to say that the book was perfect. I was let down by the suspense elements of the secret society plot. I wanted more from that, instead of a first installment that will stretch over more novels in this series. While it makes sense to have that as a major plot that spans several books, as a reader I wanted something more satisfying than what we got with resolutions and such.

I also found this couple’s first time to be both awkward and fairly upsetting. You see, Jessica was married to a man who  beat and raped her and attempted to get her to have sex with other men for money. She’s very damaged sexually, and so it confused me that from the start she tried to use her body to get Gideon to give her what she wants. When they do get to a place where they are having sex, she slips into a role and encourages him outwardly, while in her mind she thinks this:

It wasn’t rape if she let him take what he believed he wanted. It was simply easier.

She ends up finding pleasure for the first time, but as a reader this really ruined the scene and moment. I applaud the author for stretching the norm and embracing this painful subject matter, but because this heroine ‘lets’ the hero have his way with her it made me question all of her decisions, and it made me question her strength too. She had no compelling reason to not speak up, say no, or otherwise take control of that situation. There was no reason for her to lay down and take it (so to speak) – I think her speaking up and the couple waiting longer would have been a more powerful and positive choice.

Overall, the characters and the story were very forgettable. In fact as I sat down to write this review I had to really look over my notes and re-read passages to refresh my memory – and it had only been a week since I read it. A disappointing start to a series I think I’m going to have to pass on, but I will continue to keep an eye on this writer. She has truly sparkling moments, and I believe that with the right stories and characters she could really write something I find amazing.

Grade: C-

Recent Reviews:
Tracy’s Place – 3.5/5
The Window Seat

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