When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzie

July 10, 2017
Sign of relief, still on my auto-list.

If you have read any of my reviews on Sally MacKenzie's books, you will know that last few have been troublesome for me. But if there is just one book which I love by an author, I will spend years and years and years waiting for the next good one by that same author. I must admit I was starting to get a little scared because it seems to me my choices for new historical writers are somehow shrinking. Anyway, that's all about me and not Sally MacKenzie's latest book, When to Engage an Earl. This is the third book in the Spinster House series and while this story isn't one that will be on my "I luv you forever" list, it was a cute tale and in my opinion the best in the series. My problem with the Spinster House series is the women who were supposed to be friends. In the first two stories these three women did not exhibit anything close to friendship. I was actually surprised that a female writer was responsible for some of the pettiness that came out of the three main women characters. But in this book, Jane our heroine, seems to have turned over a new leaf and she is once again a nice person. So, that was a good thing.

Jane Wilkerson is at last in her own home, the spinster house. You know that old saying "be careful what you wish for because the grass is always greener on the other side"? Yeah, that may not be the saying but you get the drift. So, Jane has finally realized all of her dreams - except she's not as happy as she should be. Jane's character was hard to like, because she seemed as if she could just not make up her mind about what she wanted. But I like to look at her as a person who knows what she doesn't want, not what she wants, and that made her more likeable. Because she doesn't know what she wants, she makes choices which don't really suit her. I think Ms. MacKenzie missed an opportunity in not creating a more fully developed character in Jane. I believe Ms. MacKenzie sometimes sacrifices brilliant personalities for light fluffy narrative. But then there's room for light fluffy in Romanceland. I'm starting to sound like Jane - just cannot make up my mind.

Then we have our hero, Alex. Alex is mostly amusing. He does things like avoid going to his house because his matchmaking mother and sister are there. He is also lonely. Alllll of his friends are married and are having children of their own. He also is rather fond of Jane, even though he isn't going to admit it. He just kind of wanders through the book being entertaining. There was something about Alex which started irritating me part way through the book. He wanted a wife and children. How do I know that? Because his brain-think mentioned it a gazillion times. He was so boo-hoo-everyone-has-a-family-I-adore-my-nieces-I-love-children. He voiced it so much. Let me generalize. I like to think I know how men think - but I really don't. All I can do is observe the males who surround me. Men are capable of strong loyalty, love, and friendship. There are tons of great fathers out there. But do men think about having children/spouse with the same amount of enthusiasm that women do? Do they dream of the day they will walk down the aisle in their finery? While I'm sure that an occasional thought of having a family might drift through their brains, Alex seemed to be really obsessed with it. And, that became distracting for me because I was questioning the depth of his desire. For me, it comes down to I found his neediness overwhelming and it lessened my liking of him.

By the way, in case you've forgotten which series this is, it's the one with the strange/magical cat Poppy and the dying heir curse being broken by true love. At the end of the story we find that all is not as it seems in regard to that curse.

Overall, this was a pleasant, quick, light read. It had a bit of a rushed ending about it and a number of loose ends were tied rather quickly, but I thought this one was the best in the series. 

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Warm

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