I can’t believe I’ve never read Shana Galen before! Well, I won’t make that mistake again. Earls Just Want to Have Fun is thoroughly enjoyable and a fun read at that. It took me all of a day to finish this book and I am chomping at the bit to start the next book in the series, The Rogue You Know. I received both books as ARC’s through Netgalley and Sourcebooks, so as soon as I am finished with this post, I will be starting Rogue. This should be fun!
Before getting to the review, here is a quick synopsis: Marlowe is a thief–that’s all she can ever remember being, although she has vague recollections of a woman singing her a lullaby and her parents wearing fancy clothes. While serving as a distraction for the boys in the Covent Garden Cubs, Marlowe is abducted by Sir Brook Derring and taken to his brother, the Earl of Dane, because Brook believes that Marlowe is really Lady Elizabeth, the daughter of Lord and Lady Lyndon, and that she was kidnapped when she was five years old. Marlowe doesn’t want to believe that she is Lady Elizabeth because she would never be a proper English lady. She isn’t the only one finding it hard to believe that she is the daughter of an aristocrat; Lord Dane takes one look at her and thinks his brother has lost his mind. Marlowe was dirty, smelled, and had appalling manners. She couldn’t possibly be Lady Elizabeth. Once she’s clean, though, lust gets the better of his brain and he starts to see Marlowe as someone to be desired. The two eventually end up working together to stop Satin, the leader of the Cubs, and in doing so fall madly in love with each other, society be damned.
This is probably the first review I have ever written in which I can’t say anything bad about the book. The characters were engaging and complex. The love story sweet and well written. My only real complaint is that the ARC was so poorly formatted that it nearly made me go crosseyed. I swear, I have read pirated books in better condition than this and I get that this is an advanced copy, so the finishing touches weren’t put on it, but if Sourcebooks really wants people to keep reading their books, they might want to work on this as it was almost enough to stop me from finishing it, which would have been a total shame.
Now, back to the actual content of the book. I loved Marlowe! She was smart, despite never having an actual education (she’s the first heroine I’ve read that does not know how to read), and she wants to learn. For example, after meeting Dane’s sister Susanna (heroine of the next book), they place a bet on whether Dane would look at her “bubbies” (as most men of Marlowe’s acquaintance do) or if he would be too much of a gentleman to do so. If she were to win, she wanted the copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets that Susanna had next to her bed. (For her part, Susanna wanted an adventure.) Also, her reaction to seeing Dane’s library for the first time reminded me of the scene in Once Upon a Time when Belle first sees Rumple’s library.
Marlowe also has guts. She knows that she could walk away from everything that is being offered to her, but she sticks. Not because she has food, clean clothes, and a bed on which she can sleep, but because she needs to know the truth. She needs to know that someone somewhere cared for her enough to still be looking for her 15 years after she disappeared. She also knows that if Lord and Lady Lyndon don’t accept her as their daughter, then she’d end up right back where she started, except without even the hope of having a family to keep her company. I don’t know if I could do that had I been in her position.
Dane, however, drove me nuts. When we first meet him, he tells us that he does not like the poor and thinks that they are barely human. My first thought was that he was a Social Darwinist before that term (or evolution) was even a thing. He truly believed that the lower classes wanted to be poor and that they’d rather be criminals than do an honest day’s work. All because his family’s home had been burglarized in the past. I get being angry about that. I really do. But using that as a reason to throw the majority of the country’s people to the wolves is appalling. I couldn’t help thinking that this guy needed to shape up in order to be worthy of Marlowe. Luckily, he does, although it does take him a while to realize that he was wrong about the poor and impoverished.
His journey from pompous aristocrat to caring individual is what really makes this book stand out for me. Speaking as a someone that tends to fall far left on the political spectrum, I know that the world is full of many people who think like he did at the beginning of the book and I would love it for them to see the world as it actually is instead of how it appears to them from their glass towers, where they sit in judgement of the rest of us simply because we weren’t born with a silver spoon in our mouths and lack the resources to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” the way they seem to think they did, even though they’ve been richer than Midas most of their lives. Watching Dane come to realize that he was wrong about the world around him was amazing. Instead of seeing the poor as animals, he looked at Marlowe and realized that they only stole because it was the only thing available for them–the only way they could survive and that given the choice they would choose not to steal.