Elizabeth's Reviews > I Love the Earl

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden
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's review
Oct 05, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: historical-romance, regency, novella, romance
Read from October 05 to 06, 2011

Due to a misplaced Nook, I began reading this novella on the same day that I began reading First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh. Both rely on a similar trope - an unmarried woman in her late twenties/early thirties resigns herself to a single life. Suddenly, her brother becomes a wealth nobleman when a distant relative dies without leaving an heir. The women's lives change dramatically and suddenly they become very eligible women who need to marry to fulfill societal expectations. In this novella, Margaret's a true spinster while in Balogh's book, Vanessa is a widow.

Reading the two books in parallel, I can't help but compare and contrast as I read. So far, I'm finding Ms. Balogh to be a much more skilled author.

My overarching concern with "I love the Earl" is that it misuses the Novella format. I like the Novella format but believe that like a short story, it can be even more challenging to write. Fewer words and pages to convey a story. It feels like Ms. Linden made this tale short by repeatedly violating the writing command, "Show, don't Tell." As I was reading the first few chapters I kept wanting more to happen, rather than a recitation of the characters' background, motives, and current state of affairs. The action picks up later in the book somewhat, but as I continue to read I just keep thinking the author got lazy and wanted to crank out a shorter tale rather than build out a book. (I would point to another Balogh book A Matter of Class as an example of a novella done well.

Finishing the book I was even more disappointed for several reasons. ** Spoiler Stop Here** First, the ending was predictable. The two decide to get married but we still have what appears to be 30 - 40 pages to get through. Clearly the brother will threaten to cut off the dowry if they move forward. Yep, I was right. Second, back to the please show me, not tell. The obstacles in this romance were too easily overcome. Combined with the short length, it just fell like there wasn't a lot there.
Finally, too few pages - not sure whether to blame author, publisher or B&N. Yet another ebook sold without the page numbers being clear, and the book was even shorter than I thought it was. Granted I only paid $.99, but I'm feeling ripped off as the book did not even hit the 100 page mark, and I don't remember seeing it marked as a novella.

In the end, this novella or whatever you want to call it felt like the author (or maybe publisher) was trying to sell me on buying the full length books in this series, but at the moment I'm not feeling really motivated to do it.

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