Last Night with the Earl by Kelly Bowen

Last Night with the Earl by Kelly Bowen
Pub. Date: September 25, 2018
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Forever!)
Summary: After Waterloo, Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, was presumed dead—and would have happily stayed that way. He’s no longer the reckless young man he once was, and only half as pretty. All he wants is to hide his scars away in his country home. But when he returns home and tries to sneak into his old bedroom in the middle of the night, he’s shocked to find someone already there.

Rose Hayward remembers Eli as an arrogant rake who helped her late fiancé betray her. Finding him stealing into the house currently rented by Haverhall School for Young Ladies doesn’t correct her impression. Her only thought is to get him to leave immediately. Yet the tension between them is electric, and her painter’s eye can’t help but admire him, scars and all. He might be back from the dead, but now Rose will do anything to make him feel truly alive.
Genre: Historical Romance

Against his father’s wishes, Eli Dawes, only son of the Earl of Rivers, left his cushy society life in England for the battlefield of Waterloo along with his three best friends. Amongst the other horrors of war, Eli watched his three friends die, while he himself received grievous injuries. He hid away in Belgium in the years following, slowly recovering and coming to terms with his new life, until he was finally tracked down: his father had passed away and, unless Eli miraculously returned home (society believed him to be dead), a distant cousin in Ireland would inherit the title and fortune.

Eli would have happily lived out his life as a dead man; earls are not burned, scarred, and missing an eye. Yet he decides to return – to the family’s country estate, believing it to be a relatively safe bet. Quiet, away from society, no one to gawk and gasp. Sneaking into his old bedroom like a common thief, however, he’s startled to discover there’s already someone in his bed. The last person he ever expected – or wanted – to see: Rose Hayward.

In July I reviewed the first book in this series and while it was just a mini review, my love for it was fierce. As much as I loved A Duke in the Night, I have to admit I think I loved Last Night with the Earl even more. This book picks up shortly after the end of the first book, this time following Rose (her sister Clara was the main focus of the previous novel). Rose is the art instructor at Haverall, an…interesting and incredibly forward-thinking school for girls. Though fronted as an elite finishing school, in actuality the classes allow the girls to realize their dreams, something that would never happen as long as their fathers, brothers, and society have a say. At the school the girls are tutored in their passions, one girl, for example, wants to be a physician. Totally unheard of for a well-bred young lady, right? Rose’s brother, while a baron, is also a highly respected doctor, and took the girl under his wing, bringing her on as his assistant. Another girl was more business-minded; she studied the ins and outs of maintaining a restaurant.

As for Rose, her paintings go much deeper. Once a sought-after young woman, a cruel prank essentially branded her an outcast. The man she loved and believed she would marry – Eli’s best friend, as it turned out – was something of an artist himself. However, his caricatures were heartless and graphically depicted scores of young ladies in unspeakable positions. What’s worse, before leaving England, Anthony actually had the pictures published – anonymously, of course. The collection spread like wildfire and led to whispers, nasty remarks, and even boxes of dead rats at the Haywards’ door. So, no thank you, Rose is perfectly content remaining in the country where she puts her artwork to good: painting young ladies and wives to portray their true beauty, something these women thought was gone for good – if they ever felt they had it to begin with.

I realize I’m rambling about this book and I haven’t even started discussing the romance! You know it’s a head-over-heels book when you can’t stop gushing about it and the main characters haven’t even gotten together yet. Naturally Eli and Rose’s reunion is one of pain and confusion. Rose doesn’t shy away from Eli’s injuries (in fact, she threatens him with the pointed end of a paintbrush – honestly, that’s his own fault he believed it to be a knife – the night he snuck into the bedroom) and she also doesn’t pity him. To be truthful, she’s harbored as much anger and rage toward him as she has for Anthony. Surely Eli was in the thick of it when Anthony was creating those awful pictures. With Eli, he’s secretly been in love with Rose for years, though he never acted on it as she was engaged to his friend. Their first meeting in years results in an attempted murder – how could you not fall in love after that? Really though, their romance was a wonderful slow burn and I couldn’t get enough.

Possibly the best part of Kelly Bowen’s novels is that romance isn’t the sole focus. Shocking, right? Both books in the Devils of Dover series are so richly written, full of fantastic characters with their own personalities and lives and the other storylines are just as engaging. Much like with the first book, Last Night with the Earl had me captive while reading and when I wasn’t I was counting down the moments until I could get back to it. I fell hard for A Duke in the Night and absolutely loved Last Night with the Earl. A Rogue by Night doesn’t comes out until May but, but if it’s anything like the first two, I know it’ll be so worth the wait!

4 thoughts on “Last Night with the Earl by Kelly Bowen

  1. […] LAST NIGHT WITH THE EARL BY KELLY BOWEN is the follow-up to this summer’s A Duke in the Night. As much as I loved the first book, I have to admit, I think I might have loved Last Night even more! An only son and heir – long thought dead – returns from Waterloo horrifically injured. Content to remain “dead,” he secrets away to the family’s country estate, an estate that is now, unbeknownst to him, a school for young ladies. And one of the teachers is the former fiancee of his best friend. […]

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