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What Ales the Earl

(Widow's Brew #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  508 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Scandal does not define the "fallen" ladies of Puddledon Manor's Benevolent Home. Instead, it's a recipe for an intoxicating new future as the women combine their talents—to operate their own brewery and alehouse...

When Penelope Barnes arrived at the Home with her young daughter, she discovered a knack for horticulture—and for cultivating the hops needed to produce a supe
Mass Market Paperback, 298 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by Zebra
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  508 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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Start your review of What Ales the Earl (Widow's Brew, #1)
A well written regency romance with a plot that had me turning the pages. It was the perfect book to start my reading year with. I will be continuing on with the series!
DNF. I should have paid attention to some of the lower starred ratings.

(view spoiler)
Cam (justabookeater)
Jul 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I work at a bar that specializes on craft beer so I picked this up on a whim. Unfortunately, the amount of misogynist comments by both the hero and his peers made me dislike this book. I wish they had been called out at least once.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I read this book because it's a finalist in the 2019 RITAs. I hope it doesn't win.

Everything about What Ales the Earl is wrong. The book seems to offer a feminist message, but it's undermined by the narrative's implicit and unchallenged internalized misogyny. The pacing is weird, the conflict is nonexistent. The exclamations "Zeus!" and "Lud!" appear every other paragraph. This happened:
Who was in his room? Surely not...

His vision cleared.

Bloody, bloody, bloody hell, it was Lady Susan, and wo
Tracy Emro
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars - rounded up

Harry Graham and Penelope Barnes were childhood friends and eventually lovers, they parted ways ten years ago when Harry went off to war. But unbeknownst to Harry, Pen gave birth to a daughter and moved away from Darrow.

Now Harry is back from the war and had unexpectedly inherited the earldom of Darrow from his wastrel brother. He has promised his mother he will marry and has chosen his bride - Lady Susan Palmer. The night he is going to propose, his friend the Duke of Grai
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, romance
Oh boy. I don't even know where to start with this one.

It's a historical romance. While I don't enjoy it, I do expect some level of misogyny in the books. This was extra. You could tell that the author was trying to do the opposite because you couldn't go a paragraph without getting hit over the head with the idea of Pen being a businessWOMAN. Unfortunately, it mostly just came off patronizing.

There were some weird quirks to the writing as well. 'Zeus' was a common oath for some reason. I found
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in Sally's new Series The Widow's Brew. As you can tell by the title Ale plays a part in this love story. Harry Graham is now the Earl of Darrow after his older brother dies in an unexpected accident. Now he has promised his mother that he will find a bride this season to ensure the succession of his title. The only problem is that all the debutantes are young, feather brains that will drive him to bedlam if he marries one of them. The only remotely acceptable candidate is ...more
Sammy Loves Books
Fun, sexy read about a fallen woman reconnecting with the man she has always loved.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. Overall, I thought this was a sweet story. There were however a couple of things that drove me mad such as the problems of the main characters being stated again and again and also the time line in which the story happened. Though Pen and Harry had known each other since they were children it did not seem that they truly knew each other that well so I think they should have had a longer time line for their second chance love story.
Caitlyn Lynch
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Harry Graham has to choose a bride, and quickly. He was never supposed to be Earl, but when his brother died in his mid-thirties without siring a son, Harry inherited both the title and the responsibility to ensure the succession. The only problem is that all the ‘suitable’ young ladies he’s meeting in London are utterly uninteresting. None of them compare to Pen, his childhood sweetheart.

Encountering Pen again when helping out a friend is quite a surprise… but not as much so as meeting Harriet,
Blodeuedd Finland
I liked that this one did keep true to time. For most of the book it does not even hit Harry that he could marry Pen. Why would he? He is an Earl, she is a farmer's daughter. And that was the sad facts. But hey, this is romance. Do NOT worry.

Pen and Harry spent a glorious summer together. He went off to War, she found out she was pregnant and fled. He is now back and is an Earl. She is making ale and living with a bunch of other women. He wants to marry a lady to get an heir and a spare. She wan
Sissy's Romance Book Review
What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie is book One in the Widow's Brew series. This is the story of Penelope Barnes and Harry Graham.
Penelope and Harry where childhood friends that turned to a lover's relationship. But Harry ended up going to war and now several years later he has returned. Harry didn't know that he was leaving Penelope with a lasting outcome of their relationship when he left. Now he is back having to take over a title that he inherited after his brother death. When going to Li
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have read and enjoyed several of Sally MacKenzie’s books, and What Ales the Earl was no exception. This was a fun, second chance romance. I especially loved the heroine and the other women she works with in the ale-making business, and I’m hoping we see some of these characters in future books in the series!
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
What Ales the Earl is a delightful historical romance. I loved the plot and the characters. The author pulls you right into the story with her writing style. Highly recommend this book.
Amy Alvis
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Pen and Harry's story!

Pen and Harry were childhood friends. Right before he went off to war, they became intimate and Pen got pregnant. With no way to contact Harry, Pen does what she needs to survive and ends up in a tiny town living as a widow.

Harry is on the verge of getting engaged when he is asked by a friend to find out some information. He ends up in the same town as Pen and discovers he is a father. Their old attraction is still present but because of their differences in station
Samantha Folkner
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book that had me intrigued and reading in all one setting. This is one of those stories you really wonder if the H/h can find a way to make it work or if it’s even best if they do. I loved Pen’s strength and that she always focused on trying to do what was best for her daughter even if it meant sacrificing a part of herself. As a mom I felt those parts relatable.

I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it

What I liked:
The writing style
The characters
Part of a series: Widow's Brew

I look forward to reading the other books in this series.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC from NetGalley.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Publisher's Description:

Scandal does not define the “fallen” ladies of Puddledon Manor’s Benevolent Home. Instead, it’s a recipe for an intoxicating new future as the women combine their talents—to operate their own brewery and alehouse . . .

When Penelope Barnes arrived at the Home with her young daughter, she discovered a knack for horticulture—and for cultivating the hops needed to produce a superlative pint. She put her scandalous affair with Harry Graham firmly in the past, along with the w
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the first book of the Widow’s Brew series, Sally MacKenzie delves into the lives of those not born into high society during the Regency period. The privileged attended balls, married well, and often led an idle life, while the individuals who must work in order to live should not associate with the wealthy aristocrats. But in this story, an earl and the commoner whom he once knew learn that the heart does not always follow the rules. WHAT ALES THE EARL is intensely emotional because of realis ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Harry Graham, age 28, has just lost his older brother, Walter, which makes Harry the Earl of Darrow. He is quite taken with the lovely Lady Susan Palmer, daughter of the Earl of Langley. However, the young woman loves to talk. His mother has impressed upon him that he must marry soon and get an heir. But Harry’s friends think he will make a mistake by marrying Lady Susan because her constant talking will drive him crazy.

Harry’s friend, the Duke of Grainger, has asked for his help with his estate
This is a finalist in the historical short category. This is a second chance at love story between an Earl and a farmer's daughter.

10 years ago, when Penelope was 17 and Harry was 18, they were friends and then lovers. Harry went off to war, neither of them realized she was pregnant. Now Harry is back and has inherited the title, his mother desperately wants him to marry and have heirs. Meanwhile, Pen was forced to leave home & live with an aunt. Eventually she landed at a home for widows and c
What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie was an historical romance with a twist. Penelope Barnes found herself pregnant and ended up at the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children. There she found herself in charge of growing hops. The Home has various pursuits to earn money, but the Ale (with Penelope’s hops) is their biggest hope and income.

Harry left the farm and his best friend Penelope to go to war. When his brothe
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The first story in the Widow’s Brew series caught me off guard. Let me preface this, as there may be those who may be reading a review from me for the first time. In a lot of instances, I’ll select a book merely by the title name, author, and possibly genre. Due to my busy schedule I don’t always read the book blurbs or research the books before I launch into them. You read that correctly. I typically know nothing about the book and I like to go in a little blind. Keeps me on my toes and allows ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Penelope Barnes arrived at the Home with her young daughter, she discovered a knack for horticulture and for cultivating the hops needed to produce a superlative pint. She put her summer of love with Harry Graham firmly in the past, along with the wrenching pain she felt when he went off to war. After all, she’d always known a farmer’s daughter had no future with an earl’s son. Now she has the pleasant memory of their passion, and she has little Harriet, for whom she would do anything even ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Harry cannot believe his older brother, Walter, is gone and that he has inherited his title, Earl of Darrow. His mother has been pressuring Harry to marry and produce an heir. Harry has looked all season and finally settled on one woman. Before he can propose, Harry's friend has a business matter he wants Harry to deal with for him. That is how Harry finds himself coming face-to-face with a ghost from his past.

Penelope "Pen" Barnes was Harry's childhood friend and later lover. When Harry left he
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Harry has become the Earl of Darrow. His older brother died and Harry is now looking for a bride. It is important for him to marry to produce an heir. He is about to propose to Lady Susan. He does not particularly like her, but she is the daughter of an earl and that means she would be appropriate to become his bride.

Penelope and her daughter, Harriet, are living in Little Puddledon at the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows and Abandoned Women and their Unfortun
2.5 stars.

Had this book had better editing I would have rated higher. Harry was funny, had good character growth, and was amazing at reassuring Pen that they would do well together. He was sweet with his daughter and trusted Pen's judgement on her. Pen was smart and resourceful and vulnerable. And Harriet was not just a plot moppet, but a central figure to the romance and helped advance the story. I like the idea of a 9 year old romantic helping her parents get together.

But the editing was terri
Laura J.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
After many years, Harry runs into his first love Pen and finds out they have a daughter. Harry has inherited an earldom and is about to propose to an Earl’s daughter. Pen and her daughter are living in a home for widows and their children. She’s a farmers daughter and is in charge of growing the hops for the Home’s business enterprise. There’s a lot going on: Harry finding out he’s a father ; his offer to Pen the position of being his mistress; the ale-making business; the other women of the she ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fave-authors, regency
Although I skipped a very few pages, I just couldn't get into this book. I kept putting it down and picking it up again. No connection for me, although I did really want to love it, but didn't - I adore Sally MacKenzie's masterful Naked series!
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sally MacKenzie's book, What Ales the Earl, is an opposites attract, second chance, unknown child story. Penelope Barnes ts a drunken farmer's daughter while Harry Graham is an earl. A decade ago they spent a summer together that resulted in a daughter. The moment of truth comes when they reconnect in Little Puddleton. With the sudden death of his older brother, it is now time for Harry to marry and produce a male heir. But there are expectations when you are part of the ton. This is a fun histo ...more
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Sally MacKenzie decided to become a writer in grade school when she read one of her stories to the class. Her classmates laughed and she was hooked. She sat down immediately to pen her first novel.

Well, not exactly.

The hooked part is right--cursed might be a better description--but the sitting down and writing part came later. Much later.

Sally eventually went on to college, majoring in English, a

Other books in the series

Widow's Brew (3 books)
  • The Merry Viscount (Widow's Brew, #2)
  • Cheers to the Duke (Widow's Brew, #3)

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