Monday, November 18, 2013

Blog Tour: Loving the Earl by Sharon Cullen (Review + Giveaway)


Welcome to my stop on Sharon Cullen's blog tour for her latest book, Loving the Earl!

Loveswept is hosting a TOUR-WIDE Rafflecopter Giveaway for a Loveswept Tote or Loveswept Mug. To visit Sharon's other stops, click here.

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About the book:

Blurb:

In Sharon Cullen’s sizzling novel of scandal and seduction, a headstrong beauty is pursued across Europe by London’s most notorious rake.

Having vowed never to wed again, widowed viscountess Claire Hartford is about to do the unthinkable: travel unaccompanied across the continent in search of a lover. Her adventure begins sooner than expected, when she meets a magnificent cloaked stranger on her ship’s gangplank. He is Lord Blythe, a man whispered about in London’s ballrooms and drawing rooms, a scandalous rogue hell-bent on seduction.

Nathan Ferguson curses the day he agreed to look out for his best friend’s wayward sister. The charismatic earl is traveling to Paris to uncover the truth behind his father’s death, but his desire for Claire threatens to be his undoing. From France to Italy, on a journey of passionate discovery and danger, Nathan is honor-bound to protect her --from himself most of all. What can he offer Claire? Only love, as he sets out to prove to the woman of his dreams that she belongs to him -- body, heart, and soul.

Buy Links:

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My Review:

From the first chapter of the novel, Sharon Cullen makes clear what her novel is about: it is a classic road-trip romcom, complete with an unlikely travel pairing, their perilous adventures and emotional revelations.

Claire and Nathan have different reasons for going to the Continent: she's there to escape from the autocracy of her brothers and of men, in general. And Nathan's following clues from a letter, hinting at a deeper reason for his father's death.

I was initially worried about Claire's very reckless and very rebellious attitude: the rash choices she is making seem to be a direct result of going against her brother's guidance and advice. Take her trip, for example, she was scheduled to travel a few days later with a fixed itinerary and an appropriate travel companion. (All arranged and approved by her brother.) Claire, however, decides to take matters into her own hands and books passage on a different ship, traveling on a different date and bringing only a maid with her.

Of course Claire's actions result in her losing important letters and documents and, also, in her losing her maid. But Claire remains determined and her intrepid spirit is not dampened by the initial pitfall (or the pitfalls that follow after the first one).

It becomes an ironic thing for Claire, when she realizes she is, once again, at the mercy of a man: Nathan Ferguson, her brother's friend, who is traveling on the same ship as her -- and who happens to be traveling in the same direction as Claire. It's interesting to see both sides of the same situation: Nathan thinks Claire needs help and Claire thinks she is managing well on her own -- despite not having any money, a companion or any sort of protection. But Claire doesn't see it that way and keeps insisting that she can manage things on her own, proving so when she single-handedly confronted a highwayman.

Why is Claire so determined to break away from her brothers? Why is she rebelling against (good/common) sense? Why is Claire so insistent in doing things her way?

I slowly started understanding Claire as her journey with Nathan continued: she reveals very gradually the abuse she silently suffered when she was married to "the perfect guy" and how very fragile her current sense of self is because of her marriage. Nathan realizes the same thing as well -- and, instead of being exasperated with Claire, he comes to admire (and love) this very brave, very resilient woman.

Claire emerged from her bath and Nathan's body clutched in need. Her wet hair hung well past her shoulders, a dark amber rather than the bright red when it was dry. She shot him a cautious look and he tensed. She was up to something. He hadn't known her long but forced circumstances had taught him well. There was a calculated gleam in her sea green eyes.
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Nathan isn't exactly a knight in shining armor, either. His armor has been quite tarnished because he owns a gambling den and is known to live a very dissolute life. At the start of the story, Nathan displays that he isn't the most reliable person in the world, forgetting details of his friend's request, etc. But, as he journeys through Europe with Claire, he comes to discover that he is capable of some goodness and decency -- that he isn't like his father, who ignored his family when he was alive, and, when he died, left them penniless.

The change these two characters undergo is very dramatic. In the beginning, Claire doesn't trust Nathan and lies about everything. But Nathan proves his sincerity and Claire allows herself to open up to him. In doing so, she's able to give voice to the silence that threatened to consume her. Nathan's initial attraction to Claire was grounded on the physical, very shallow aspect of Claire's being -- but, the more he got to know Claire, the deeper his admiration for her became. By the end of Cullen's Loving the Earl, more discoveries are made -- not just of themselves and of each other, but of the circumstances of Nathan's father's death.

This is the first time I'm reading Sharon Cullen and I discovered that her first historical romance novel, The Notorious Lady Anne, features Claire's brother Nicholas. There's a part in Loving the Earl that makes me wonder if it was mentioned in the previous book -- when I read it, I felt I missed the significance of it in this story (apologies for being vague -- it's a bit of a spoiler).

Despite my slight confusion with that part, I was satisfied with how Sharon Cullen resolved the story. She's a very clear story-teller and has crafted very believable, very sympathetic (though slightly irritating = early chapters Claire) characters.

Favorite insight in the novel: Birth was a gamble, a person's lot in life, the hand they were dealt. Very few, if any, rose above it. He and Claire had been lucky with the hands they'd been dealt. Those people in that town hadn't been and they were angry for it.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the blog tour organizer for review purposes. Many thanks to Sharon Cullen, Tasty Book Tours and LoveSwept for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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About the author:

Sharon is also the author of romantic suspense, paranormal romance and contemporary romance. The Notorious Lady Anne is Sharon Cullen’s first historical and her debut novel with Loveswept.

If you’d like to find out more about Sharon and her books, you can visit her at her blog or her website. She’s addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion -- books.

Connect with Sharon: Facebook | Twitter | Website








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Loveswept is hosting a TOUR-WIDE Rafflecopter Giveaway for a Loveswept Tote or Loveswept Mug. To visit Sharon's other stops, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



6 comments:

  1. Looking forward to reading this book for sure!

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  2. Awesome Tin!!! Gosh I need to get this reading done. :)

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  3. Great Review. This is a new author to me. I will have to add her to my TBR. :)

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  4. Hi, all!

    Lisa, as always, thank you for the opportunity!

    Thank you for helping me welcome Sharon to my blog! @romancereadergirl, I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did. ^_^

    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete

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