Earl on the Run (The Duke’s Estates, 2)
An utterly delightful tale of deception and masquerade that sets a new bar for the Regency romp. Picking up at the end of The Duke Who Loved Me, the novel opens with Jack Merrill, the new Earl of Ferrington, arriving at the estate he isn’t ready to claim. As he surveys the situation while living incognito with a group of Travelers, he meets the delightful Harriet Finch, whose ambitious grandfather insists she marry high. Harriet quickly falls for charming, funny, handsome Jack the Rogue and hopes he might liberate her from her grandfather’s schemes, so learning he’s an earl feels like a betrayal. Stubborn, lively Harriet is just what Jack wants, but she’s only going along with the betrothal to protect her mother until a better solution arises.
The action is swift and energetic. Harriet and Jack’s interactions entwine playfulness, sincerity, and attraction that heals past hurts, and their relationship feels organic despite the forced trope. Fleshed out secondary characters, including old friends from The Duke, aid in plot development. Wonderful pacing, perfectly calibrated tension, believable conflicts, and assured, sparkling writing kept me rushing to the happy conclusion, though I didn’t want the story to end.