Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: November 29, 2022
Series or Standalone: Love on Holiday #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: sexual assault; death of parents; anxiety; violence
Lady Meets Earl was a delightful second installment in Christy Carlyle’s Love on Holiday series. Despite being love at first sight, the romance was charming, with fantastic banter between James and Lucy. I enjoyed these characters and loved the journey the book takes you on.
This was also the perfect book to read as I was about to head out on my trip to the Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh last November. While I was there, I got to visit some of the exact sites that James and Lucy went to, which made it extra special!
When Lady Lucy Westmont gets an invitation to visit her free-spirited and scandalous aunt in the Scottish countryside, she jumps at the chance to escape from society, have a little adventure, and find herself. Meanwhile, Jams Pembroke just learned he’s the new Earl of Rossbury, which feels like a stroke of luck after owing money to some unsavory men after a business deal goes awry. However, the earldom just piles on more debt as the only thing worth any money is a property up in Scotland, which he’s determined to sell to pay off all the debt. On the ride to Scotland, he meets Lucy, and they have an instant connection. Little do either of them know they’ll see a lot more of each other very soon as he’s the new owner of her aunt’s house.
As I said, the romance in this book is based on love at first sight. I’m not always the biggest fan of this trope, but it worked well in this book because these characters were well-defined and had fantastic chemistry. They first meet on a train to Scotland, and there is an instant connection, a sense of comfort and rightness, between them. They both have their struggles on that train ride – he’s dealing with anxiety over being on a train again, and she’s dealing with an attempted sexual assault on the train – but they find comfort in each other. That first journey does a lot to set up their relationship, and it does so perfectly.
James and Lucy also had fantastic banter and chemistry, which helped me buy their romance. They only know each other for a week before they have serious feelings, which is very quickly, but it felt like longer, given their chemistry and how well they understood each other. I really liked that they both could recognize and admire the other’s strengths yet didn’t fault the other for their flaws. That brought a level of maturity to the romance that I think is needed when it’s love at first sight. I also adore how SMITTEN James was with Lucy after such a short period – it was really sweet!
As I said, James and Lucy made this story work. James starts the book by discovering he’s an Earl, which seems like a boon as he’s in some money trouble after a failed business venture. However, the earldom he inherits is essentially broke, except for a few pieces of property, including one in Scotland that belongs to the ex-mistress of the late Earl. James is determined to sell it off to deal with his debts, but fate has other plans. I liked that he isn’t as ruthless and cutthroat as he thinks he needs to be – he softens pretty quickly once he meets the ladies living in the house. He’s also had some trauma in his past – his parents died in a train accident – which helps make him feel more real to me. I found him a charming and engaging male lead.
I also really loved Lucy. She’s a bookworm and independent thinker. She’s using the trip to visit her aunt in Scotland as a way just to be herself without the constraints of society and maybe have an adventure or two. Her personality isn’t that traditionally strong, feisty, independent woman you find in historical romance. However, she still projects that sort of energy as she’s confident in herself and her abilities, plus she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. I think she was being a bit pigheaded towards the end as she wanted to take on a known street thug and criminal single-handedly, but she proved me wrong as everything worked out how she planned it.
Speaking of the ending, it went way more according to plan than I was expecting. Everything wrapped up very neatly, almost too neatly, as I expected more drama given the type of people they were dealing with. However, nothing is wrong with that as it made this book relatively low-angst. I also loved the epilogue – it was totally not what I expected, and I’m always a fan of a baby-free conclusion!
Even knowing where the story was heading with its premise, I still enjoyed the journey and experiencing it with these characters. The story was fun, and the pacing was spot on. I also loved the secondary characters, particularly Lady Cassandra and Angus Blackwood, who helped round out the story.
If you’re looking for a relatively low-angst, charming romance, look no further than Lady Meets Earl. The banter and chemistry make this love-at-first-sight historical romance work perfectly, and I enjoyed it! Plus, that cover is gorgeous, and I cannot help looking at it. Christy Carlyle is an often-overlooked historical romance author, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her works over the years, and I cannot wait to read the next installment in the Love on Holiday series.
Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed in this review are my own.