The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase
I love Loretta Chase and this story did not disappoint. I only wished it had been longer.
The Earl of Rawnsley has quite possibly gone mad, and is dying besides, and now lives in the moors of Dartmoor. Gwendolyn Adams has just been asked to marry him to secure an heir before he dies. (This actually made a lot of sense to me in a romance novel context.) Is he really mad? What’s in it for her? And is he really going to die?
Dorian, the Earl, is your classic tormented hero—tormented by the actions of his past, a hard-handed, unforgiving family, and the ‘spirits’ that he supposedly sees. He just wants to be left alone to die in peace. Given his past history, he is incredibly worried about what will happen to him when he finally succumbs to this madness (warning: the descriptions of mental institutions in that time are pretty heartbreaking, and while author Loretta Chase doesn’t go into a lot of detail, things happen to a certain character and it is well described). When he unexpectedly inherits the earldom, he has no intention of continuing the title, but suddenly this lady shows up on his doorstep and somehow also saves his life.
Gwendolyn has no illusions about this marriage—she knows what she’s in it for—but it helps that her intended is hot and kind of a bad boy taken to riding his horse in the moors. Their romance blooms, somewhat unexpectedly, and her determination to find a cure for his illness grows.
I liked this romance; it was short and sweet. Despite the length, the pacing was well done, and the author didn’t try to cram too much into a short period of time. The events were well structured and the story didn’t feel rushed. I wish this was a full-length book. I think Chase could’ve done more, especially with the setting—with the moors and the gothic atmosphere.
Yay or nay?
If you are looking for a quick read, and something short and sweet to read before bed, this is the book for you. (If you have read Lord Of Scoundrels and liked it, the characters also make a guest appearance as a bonus.) I love Loretta Chase and this story did not disappoint. I only wished it had been longer.
Who might enjoy it: Readers who love half-mad heroes
Who might not enjoy it: Readers looking for a Regency romance
An advance reading copy of this novella was generously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. It was originally published in the print anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss.