Have you ever wished to know more about a supporting character in a novel? Do you wonder who certain people are, or how they came to be involved with the lead characters? Author Caroline Linden takes readers back to 1771 to meet Margaret deLacy and Rhys Corwen, the Duchess and Duke of Dowling, who will appear in Linden’s upcoming One Night in London . I Love the Earl is a prequel that tells the backstory of the handsome elderly couple and their courtship years earlier.
At age 28, Margaret deLacey is considered a spinster, much too old to be considered for marriage. Tall, slim and rather plain in appearance, Margaret has made peace with whom and what she is, and after losing both of her parents to illness, she moves to London to live with her elder bachelor brother, Francis. Francis is understanding, loyal and protective of his sister and those around him. He has worked hard to keep them financially stable, but when their fortune unexpectedly and drastically changes, Francis vows to make a match for Margaret.
In the meantime, Rhys Corwen, sixth Earl of Dowling, has seen a great change in his family’s fortune as well, though not as positive as the deLaceys. When Rhys learns that Margaret’s brother has settled a large dowry on her, he determines that he will easily charm Margaret into marriage, thus ensuring his own future. Rhys doesn’t count on Margaret’s sharp tongue and her ability to stand her own ground, and he is fascinated by her.
As Rhys and Margaret continue to meet at various gatherings, they also continue to strike sparks off each other. Rhys grows increasingly aware of how much he truly likes Margaret and sets off to convince her, but she’s not easily swayed. When Rhys finally makes some progress in that direction, convincing Margaret that he loves her for who she is and not for her fortune, an unexpected roadblock threatens to thwart not only his plans, but Margaret’s hopes and dreams as well.
Although I Love the Earl is not a full length novel, the character development is rich and well rounded. Period details are well placed and add interest to the story. The author’s sense of humor comes through in Margaret’s spunky personality and pithy comments about Rhys’ situation, making the two characters all the more lovable. I Love the Earl can stand on its own two feet as a terrific novella, but it’s the icing on the cake as a tie-in to the promising new series by Caroline Linden.