Wednesday, August 17, 2016


#TBRChallenge Reading: The American Earl by Joan Wolf


2016 TBR Reading Challenge
Book: The American Earl
Author: Joan Wolf
My Categories: Romance, Traditional Regency
Wendy Crutcher's Category: Kicking It Old School: The publication date of this book is 2014 but it is written in the style of traditional Regencies of yore.

I was very excited when I found out that Joan Wolf had returned to her traditional Regencies. Other than her three medieval historical fiction novels, her traditional Regencies are my favorite. Her characters have so much heart and behave with integrity and maturity and courage.

The American Earl is the story of an earl's daughter, Julia Marshall, who finds herself orphaned when she discovers her father's body in the garden one morning with his face blown off. What a horrible thing for a young girl to see.

Granted, she hated her father more than she loved him. He'd ignored her all her life, gambled away all the money from the estate including her dowry, and left her a pittance to run the house and estate of Stoverton. Luckily, all the priceless art and furnishings from the Stoverton house and the London Althorpe House are entailed, otherwise the earl would've gambled it all away.

While Julia is struggling to make ends meet at Stoverton, the next earl has been informed of his misfortune. He's an American from Salem and steeped in the stench of trade. He's enormously wealthy and owns a vast shipping business along with his sister. Both Julia and Evan are horrified that he's the new earl.

I loved how Julia and Evan come to understand each other's lives and cultures and what is important to each other and why. And in all of this, Evan needs to decide what he wants to do with the earldom that he's inherited. Does he want to stay on in hidebound England with all its rules and strictures and a societal code at odds with his upbringing? Or does he want to be an absentee landlord and abandon his seat in the Lords to return to his shipping business in Salem? And to add to this are his burgeoning feelings for Julia.

Wolf spends so much time developing these characters in all their complexity that the last quarter of the book is a letdown. She seems to be in a hurry to tie up all the story threads. Evan's decision to stay or go comes to him on a horse ride. Likewise his decision about Julia comes to him in a flash. They acknowledge their feelings to each other in a short paragraph.

This last part of the book feels at odds with the rest of the book—it's almost as if another author came in and finished the book. For a story I'd enjoyed reading most of the way through, the end was disappointing.


18 comments:

willaful said...

"The publication date of this book is 2014 but it is written in the style of traditional Regencies of yore. "

I fully support this rationalization. :-)

Keira Soleore said...

Heh! It's totally self-serving.

Every month, I struggle with the themes. Sometimes, I'm defiant of them. Other times, I try to conform though with outlandish justifications. :)

willaful said...

How are you not playing Shallowereader Bingo? You have the necessary skills down!

Keira Soleore said...

Bwahahaha! And here I thought you guys were so sincere and the competition fierce! Little did I know...

willaful said...

We are the shadiest of the shady!

azteclady said...

You should TOTALLY play Shallowreader's Bingo!!!! Those would be some epic posts.

On the review itself: what a shame that the home stretch didn't live up to the rest. I really hate when that happens, because by that point I'm so invested on the story and the characters...ah well, better luck next month.

Keira Soleore said...

OK, you and Willa have convinced me. I'll check September's card out.

Yes, it's always disappointing when you're totally into a story and then it doesn't pan out. Especially with a traditional Regency, my comfort blanket, I feel "betrayed." Unreasonable, I know, but there it is.

azteclady said...

I don't think it's unreasonable, actually. I mean, yes, to each her own, and there are probably many readers who love the whole thing and see no issues with the story, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to feel let down/betrayed when the writing for most of the book follows a pattern that seduces you into caring for the characters, and then it suddenly changes into a flurry of, "let's tie all these plot threads off and finish the story off."

Keira Soleore said...

Thank you, yes. It does feel like a betrayal by the story in which you've invested so much of your emotions. I had Expectations. And they were Dashed. :)

Lynn Balabanos said...

Oh, I hate it when the ending is a disappointment. It really can ruin a book, especially if the rest of it was good. Thanks for the review.

Keira Soleore said...

Thank you, Lynn. I love Joan Wolf's books so much, that is why the slapdash ending was doubly disappointing. I didn't expect that from this author.

Dorine said...

Sorry this one didn't live up to your expectations. I hate that when it happens at the end.

On the upside, I think cheating is encouraged with Shallowreader's bingo. And, there's still time to participate in August so you don't have to wait -- just see what fits what you've already read. I have yet to get my act together for the game in time, but I love watching the creativity. LOL

Keira Soleore said...

OK, that does it. Dorine, with so many people urging me on, I went and looked at Shallowreader's Bingo card. It's so much fun. I have a few entries in hand already. Will see how the rest pan out. Thank you!

Dorine said...

YAY! I'm so glad you're joining us. It's a lot of fun even as an observer. :)

Keira Soleore said...

Looking forward to my first post about it!

Vassiliki said...

I'm so excited you are joining us! It is all about outlandish justifications and cheat cheat cheating! You can also justify any reading. Not just books. Bookthingo won her month off a series of articles!

Keira Soleore said...

Vassiliki, it's good to know that I can justify any reading to meet the "standards". :)

Vassiliki said...

Excellent! :D