Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets, and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.
But Lord Ashford up close was rather…appalling. It didn’t seem right that a man so blessed by fortune and title should also be so attractive.
His dark brown hair was fashionably cut and artfully tousled, as if he’d recently risen from a lover’s bed. Given his reputation, that was most likely possible. He had a broad forehead, a coin-clean jawline, thick brows, and eyes that, even with yards between her and him, stunned her with their blue clarity. Naturally, he had a mouth that looked very adept at kissing and…other things.
He moved with a long-limbed ease that betrayed his skill as a sportsman. His ink blue coat fit the broad width of his shoulders, and his cream and gold-embroidered waistcoat defined the shape of his torso—his tailor on Jermyn Street produced excellent work. Snug doeskin breeches were tucked into polished Hessians that came from Bond Street.
Truly, he was quite alarming.
“Miss Hawke?” he asked sharply, coming to stand in front of her paper-cluttered desk. “I wasn’t expecting a female.”
“Neither were my parents,” she answered, “but they learned to adapt. How might I help you, my lord?”
Though she felt an obligation to ask the question, she braced herself for what was sure to be a scorching lecture.
He removed his hat and set it aside. Then he held up an issue of The Hawk’s Eye and began to read.
“’Lord A—d, a figure well-known to our assiduous and genteel readers, was lately seen in the company of a certain Mrs. F—e, whose late husband made his considerable fortune through the manufacture and sale of a woman’s garment we blush to mention in these virtuous pages.’” He tossed one of the issues to the ground. “Wrong.”
“You cannot deny—”
But he wasn’t done. Holding up another issue of the paper, he read again. “’It may or may not stun our honorable readers to learn that the notorious Lord A—d has not amended his ways following the duel over Lady L., from Y—shire, and has been espied with another married lady of questionable character, at the late night revels hosted by the equally rakish Mr. S—n. Yet it was noted by our keen-eyed intelligence that this married lady was not the only female vying for the earl’s favors.’” This paper he also cast to the floor. “Wrong.”
She herself had written those pieces, and while they weren’t matchless examples of English prose, she was still rather proud of them, as she was of all her labors. To have her hard work thrown to the ground like so much garbage was rankling.
“I assure you, my lord,” she said bitingly, “The Hawk’s Eye strives for the greatest of accuracy.” She had a network of sources which she used regularly to provide information. Many members of the aristocracy were in dire need of funds, and they gladly turned on each other in order to maintain the pretense of effortless wealth. Eleanor always paid her informants to keep them returning.
Whether or not they lied to her just to collect payment wasn’t her concern, but she always preferred it if she could validate their statements. Sometimes that meant going out and conducting a few investigations. But she was a very busy woman—writing articles, editing countless others, managing the paper’s finances—and didn’t always have the time.
She had to earn a living, after all. And men like the earl didn’t.
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, October 2015
Time and Setting: London, 1816
Classification: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Review by Jenny Q
I’m not likely to pick up a new Regency these days unless there’s something very different about it, and when I read the description of Forever Your Earl, it immediately went on my list. Of course I was drawn to a historical heroine who publishes her own newspaper!
Business is booming for Eleanor Hawke, thanks in no small part to the Earl of Ashford, whose society antics printed in her pages have readers clamoring for more. Some may dismiss The Hawk’s Eye as rubbish, but Eleanor believes in giving the lower classes entertainment, and if exposing the vices and ugly side of upper society helps convince them to live a more moral life, then so much the better. But she never expects her paper’s number one subject to storm into her office demanding to speak to the publisher, much less bearing a proposition she can’t turn down.
Daniel Balfour is used to being the topic of conversation, but The Hawk’s Eye manages to get too close to too many truths, including one he’s desperately trying to keep out of the public spotlight. Expecting to be able to reason with a man of business, he is stunned to discover that publisher E. Hawke is actually a woman, and a sharp, no-nonsense, beautiful one at that. Forced to abruptly change tactics, he offers to give Eleanor the scoop of a lifetime by letting her chronicle his exploits firsthand. An exclusive series with London’s most notorious rake will take her paper to the next level. And Daniel figures he’ll be able to keep her so preoccupied with his after-dark activities that she won’t have time to ferret out his secret.
But of course, things don’t go quite as planned. While showing Eleanor the lifestyle of the rich and famous, he begins to realize how empty his pursuit of pleasure has been and how much he longs for a woman like Eleanor to share his life with. And Eleanor begins to see how much pressure a man like Daniel is under and that there is far more to him than she ever expected, but what is he still hiding from her? Can a privileged earl and a working-class woman come together to form a partnership the likes of which London has never before seen? Or will their differences and secrets prove to be too much to overcome?
This was my first experience with this author, who has more than a dozen novels under her belt as Zoe Archer, and I will definitely be reading more. It was so much fun to follow Daniel and Eleanor on their adventures. This story is filled with sparkling dialogue and wit, the characters are well developed and compelling, and the sexual tension sizzles. I only have one real complaint, but unfortunately it’s an all-encompassing one, and that is that the book is overly wordy and heavy on inner monologues that grow repetitive. It bogs the story down, and I found myself skimming to get back to the action.
But I really enjoyed the story itself. Eleanor is a unique and engaging heroine. I’m not sure how plausible she is for the time period, but she sure is fun to read about. Though it’s not all fun and games. The story does bring to light some of the failings and injustices lying beneath the wealthy, polished veneer of Regency high society, and Daniel does come to question many aspects of the disparity between the classes and what he can do to amend that. I loved the depiction of Eleanor’s friendship with another female writer, and I adore the premise for this series, The Wicked Quills of London, which will each feature a woman who makes her living with her pen. I am very much looking forward to book two, Scandal Takes the Stage, which will feature two intriguing characters introduced in Forever Your Earl. A good start to a unique series!
LOOK OUT FOR OUR REVIEW OF SCANDAL TAKES THE STAGE ON 30TH OCTOBER!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
EVA LEIGH is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ‘80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.