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I actually read this e-novella immediately after I read A Game of Persuasion and The Art of Ruining a Rake, and, I will say this: I wasn't sold on the premise of The Cheer in Charming an Earl.
I have to remind myself that Elinor's story is part of the Naughty Girls series, and so I had expected her to break the mold, to break barriers, and to be something extra-ordinary -- but I thought she set her sights a bit too low when she applied her cleverness and charm to catch Grantham Wendell attention. Does Earl Chelford merit the attention? I'm not so sure, and I don't think Elinor knows it, either -- she decided to "set her cap" on him because he was single, and an earl.
This, I think, is this novella's problem: it doesn't really show how our hero and heroine moved from strangers to friends, and, eventually, to lovers. The love story unfolds during Grantham's yearly Christmas celebration, which Elinor (literally) crashes. What follows are scenes where Grantham's friends try to shock Elinor with their hedonism, but, are, instead, charmed by Elinor's refreshing innocence. I like the contrast between the hero's worldliness and the heroine's naivete and how the author emphasizes the darkness within Grantham and the light that is Elinor. Grantham's character is more developed, and the author does a good job of portraying his tiredness and jadedness -- and it explains why he finds being with Elinor so liberating and new, but I wish there had been more between the two.
...For years, he'd relied on his friends for distraction. He was beginning to realize he'd been hiding like coward, shirking responsibility because it hurt too much to make mistakes. That had done nothing but prove darkness begat darkness. Now he knew brightness did exist in the world. It simply wasn't in this room.
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(It's really hard to explain, but I felt something was missing between the first meeting and the eventual declaration of love.) I guess that's the trouble when you come from reading something so dramatic as The Art of Ruining a Rake, because I was expecting the same kind of intensity with Grantham and Elinor's story.
On the whole, I thought this was a good story, and a good addition to the series.
The Cheer in Charming an Earl is Book 4.5 in Emma Locke's Naughty Girls series. To find out more about Emma Locke and her books, click below: