I randomly “purchased” (it was free) Intentions of the Earl a few weeks ago, and this week I decided to read it. I liked quite a lot about it, so when I finished it, I quickly purchased (for real, this time) the other two books in the series. I skip around a lot in my reading, so it’s unusual for me to read all of the books in a series consecutively, but I’m glad I did.
I’m going to start with a complete nitpick. I can’t exactly explain why, but the title bugs me. Mr. Jansson, my AP English teacher, now lives only in my head (having departed this mortal coil about a decade ago), and he’s screaming that it should be The Earl’s Intentions. Maybe it’s weird that I have a dead English teacher shouting things in my head, but whatever, we all have issues. Anyway, even if Intentions of the Earl is acceptable, shouldn’t Intentions have an article? I love this creepy atmospheric rock band from the 90s called Cranes, but it really bugs me that they aren’t The Cranes… nope, they’re just Cranes. I deal with it because Cranes are awesome (not all cranes though… I’m sure some of those birds are absolute assholes)… you see what I mean? Nouns in English require articles to help us to determine which cranes or Cranes or Intentions we’re talking about. Anyway… here’s Cranes:
Back to Intentions of the Earl, then. I liked a lot of things about this book. It was funny (intentionally). It had a plucky heroine, and I do like those. It had a villain who inspired a certain degree of sympathy. It had a little bit of mystery. It had amazing secondary characters that I wanted to know more about (hence my buying the other two books in the series…).
There were some things about the book that I found a little weird but didn’t actively dislike. The heroine’s parents are referred to throughout the book as “Mama” and “Papa”, as though they are also the parents of the narrator or as though the narrator is Brooke (the heroine), but it isn’t. The book is written in standard shifting-perspective third person, just like nearly every other romance novel out there. In the other two books, Gordon referred to the parents as John and Caroline, but all the “Mama” and “Papa” references in Intentions of the Earl were a bit strange.
All right, now for the stuff that I didn’t like at all. I had a difficult time getting a bead on Andrew, the hero. He’s written as a totally likable guy, someone you’d want to meet up with at the pub for some beer and easy conversation, but his Intentions aren’t all that honorable, so how great a guy could he be? When we first meet Andrew, he’s being hired by the sympathy-inducing villain to ruin one of the Banks girls and run them (the entire Banks family) out of town. Once he accepts that task in exchange for the deed to one of his properties, it doesn’t matter how charming he is to Brooke. I spent the first two-thirds of the book in true anxiety, hoping that Andrew wouldn’t turn out to be an asshole, and I didn’t appreciate that stress. I was also not terribly keen on the final third of the book. It was abrupt and choppy, and I was so busy “WTF?”ing that I didn’t even get to enjoy the mystery reveal.
But it was free, and I enjoyed enough about it that I was interested in seeing where Gordon was going to take the series.
There’s a theme in these covers, and I’m not sure I like it, but who really cares about e-book covers anyway? If you’re gripping a paperback, and you’re exposing the cover for all the world to see and judge your reading tastes, then I understand wanting to read a book with a stunning cover. But, honestly, it’s an e-book. Who cares?!
Liberty is a real piece of work. She’s absolutely irritating in the first book, so I wondered how she was going to carry her own book. I actually enjoyed seeing her progression throughout the book from irritating little brat in the first chapter to interesting and engaging grown-up at the end. I think my favorite thing about Liberty is that she’s 19 years old when you first meet her, and she actually behaves like some of the 19-year-olds I know. She chatters, she makes hasty judgments that are based more on her own insecurity than any actual evidence, and she frequently offends people. I loved it. I’m so sick of reading about young characters that act like they’re already in their forties (Bella Swan, I’m looking at you). I reveled in Liberty’s immaturity, even when it irritated me.
I liked Paul, but compared to the complexity the author gave to Liberty, he fell a little flat. The main conflict between the two characters could have been solved by one conversation, and there really wasn’t enough of a reason given to explain why that conversation couldn’t take place. I hate it when problems could be so easily solved but aren’t. This odd little plot device wherein the characters were able to speak openly to one another (but without Liberty knowing it was Paul to whom she spoke… so that’s annoying…) helped to further things on, but in the end it just left a yucky taste in my mouth. And then there was this really weird sequence at Paul’s brother’s house… I don’t know… I loved the beginning and the end of this book, and I absolutely adored the illegitimate illiterates, but the middle of the book and the story segments that bring Liberty and Paul together left much to be desired.
I can’t fathom that anyone could read the first two books and not automatically know who the hero of the third one is, but I gathered from reading some of the reviews on Barnes and Noble that a lot of folks really were surprised by the reveal in Chapter 2. I guessed in book 1 that it would go this way, and in book 2, I knew for sure. But enough of my own-horn-tooting… Anyway, to preserve the surprise for anyone who might want to read this book, I’ll avoid being a great big spoiler.
This is undoubtedly the best of the three books. There were still a few weird things going on with it (the hero’s crazy drama at the penultimate section, for example), but it was a very satisfying read. This book involved a bit of backstory and a few flashbacks, but I think it was all handled fairly well. I wasn’t impatient and annoyed while reading the flashbacks (or, at least, not very), and they did help further the character development and the hero/heroine story line.
The most annoying thing about the book was the fire and how Madison responded to it. Oh noes, the barn is on fire and escape is easily at hand if only I jump off this loft and land in my hero’s arms. But what if he drops me? And she dithers long enough for not one but two villains to prevent her escape. It was like watching a bad horror movie. Is she going to get away? Yes? Oh, no! She’s been grabbed by a villain! Oh, he just jumped out the window and died. OK, she’s going to escape. Yes? Oh, no! She’s been grabbed by another villain! Honestly… And finally the hero has to (somehow) wrap a rope around the roof so he can climb up to her rescue… WTF?! And you know it’s totally implausible that he could have done so because the author felt the need to include the dialogue wherein Madison asks and the hero responds how he managed to effect her rescue. Ugh.
But even though that scene annoyed me to no end, I really did enjoy Madison’s story, and I loved the hero (of course). All right, so there’s the wrap up… the other books I read this week struck more of a chord (not always a good one, mind you) and have earned their own separate posts.