The handsome Earl of Somersby may just be the most eligible bachelor in London, but has no interest in a wife. As a member of the Brotherhood, Bennett Haile is far more vested in his undercover duties for the crown and protecting the Queen from would-be assassins. For now he has the perfect tool with which to lure out the villains—a young woman with an uncanny likeness to the queen.
The spirited Evelyn Marington is about to live out every country girl’s dream—becoming royalty overnight. Under the tutelage of the arrogant Earl of Somersby, she’ll have to fool the entire court that she is, in fact, the queen. But as danger threatens from every side, Bennett realizes that his lovely little protegé isn’t just placing her life in his hands… She’s stealing his heart.
“Stand and walk to the other side of the room,” he said.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I must evaluate how you walk.”
She gaped at him. “How I walk?”
“Do try and keep up, Miss Marrington. People will be watching.”
“Is there something wrong with how I walk?”
“Your walk is …” No. In truth, she walked with an unconscious grace and agility he found charming. There was nothing studied about her movements, nothing calculated. She managed to be both completely natural and totally bewitching, which was entirely beside the point. “Your walk is unstudied.”
“Are you staying I’m clumsy?” Her gaze sparked with indignation, but perhaps a flash of pain as well. “I am well aware that I lack the grace and cultivation of my older sisters, but I assure you I am not some clumsy oaf who can’t be trusted to walk into a room.”
He drew in a deep breath, praying for patience. This was why he wasn’t yet married. This was why he was absolutely the wrong man for this job.
“Your mannerisms must match hers,” he said tightly.
She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths before standing, then walked across the room. It was not a clumsy
or awkward gait, but not regal either.
“No.” He shook his head. “Try it again but slower, yet with more purpose.”
She crossed her arms over her ample bosom. “This is ridiculous.”
He allowed his gaze to linger on her tempting curves before stepping over to her. “Miss Marrington, do you want to do this assignment or not?”
Her mouth opened, then she paused and her brows slanted down in anger. “My Lord, I realize that you are an Earl and of relation to our Queen and our Society deems you more important than I. Perhaps they are even correct; however, it would seem to me that you,” she jabbed a finger into his chest, “need me more than I need you for this assignment.
Thus far you have insulted my family, the way I walk and my hair. You are arrogant and rude and sorely lacking in manners.” Her hands fisted on her hips accenting their roundedness.
How was it that this little slip of a woman shoed no fear of him? He’d frightened women merely by walking into their drawing room. And here, he was being a bully—and for good reason—to Evelyn Marrington, but she was quite obviously not afraid of him. He couldn’t help but find that both infuriating and alluring.
“You have obviously decided that I do not possess the intelligence nor grace to succeed in this charade. I will not stand for this sort of treatment. I should like a carriage to bring me home on the morrow. Good day, Lord Somersby.”
She turned and marched from the room.
He watched her go in complete disbelief. No one had ever spoken to him in such a way. Arrogant and rude! She was the only lacking in manners. This entire assignment echoed with idiocy. Ellis had claimed his cousin amiable and clever, neither of which Bennett had seen. All he had witnessed was her sharp tongue.
Damned if he didn’t find her sass alluring as hell. All the more reason to send her back home and tell Potterfield she refused to participate. Bennett couldn’t be blamed for this failure if she was the one who walked away. This would work out perfectly. He’d get to continue with the Brotherhood and not be distracted by the ridiculously attractive and fiery-tongued Miss Marrington. It would almost be worth completing the assignment just to see if she was as passionate in other areas. Almost.
Publisher and Release Date: Entangled Scandalous, August 2015
Time and Setting: England, 1838
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
Evelyn Marrington is the independently-minded and intelligent middle child in a family of six beautiful daughters. While her mother desperately hopes for a match for this country girl, Evelyn dreams of a different life as a writer, living on her own in a small cottage and writing to her heart’s content, much like Jane Austen.
But Evelyn’s cousin, Ellis, has other ideas and plans for her. Ellis is involved in a specialized government agency – known as the Brotherhood – with Bennett Haile, the large, handsome, and very dashing Earl of Somersby. They need someone to stand in for a very young Queen Victoria while she recuperates from a sprained ankle. Victoria’s life is threatened and they need a stand-in for her so that Victoria can continue to make a good impression on a nation who isn’t yet sure of its young monarch.
Ellis decides that Evelyn is the perfect foil as she closely resembles Victoria but Bennett, already perilously close to being on the outs with his supervisor for questioning his decisions on previous assignments, is adamantly against this choice. He thinks it’s an insane plan that won’t ever work and one that’s also beneath him and his skills. Victoria is Bennett’s cousin but he also doesn’t believe that Evelyn is a good choice for her stand in.
But the real reason behind Bennett’s dismay is that he is attracted to Evelyn and this distracts him from his work with this critical mission; but his hand is forced. Evelyn is also drawn to Bennett’s good looks and, as they get to know each other during their close contact, she comes to trust this imposing, quiet, and unassuming gentleman. At first, however, they must learn to respect each other and some of their early tense encounters make for some humorous moments in this lighthearted story.
Evelyn accepts the assignment, both for the money she will earn in service to the Crown as well as for the adventure she hopes will provide inspiration and ideas for her adventure stories. She also wants the opportunity to escape her gossipy, stifling family life in the country and her mother’s constant nagging to make a proper match. She will get to see London and be able to stretch her wings and, with the money, she hopes to eventually purchase a cottage so she can live alone and write novels for the rest of her life.
Bennett was jilted by his former fiancée and has sworn off women forever, believing them to be manipulative and gold digging creatures. Until, that is, Evelyn surprises him with her guile, her intelligence, her bravery in standing up to him verbally, and her beauty. It’s cute how this bookish country miss thinks she’s awkward and unattractive but Bennett finds her breathtaking and stunning.
The tone of this romance is sweet but the sexual attraction burns steadily throughout. Bennett is charged with tutoring Evelyn in queenly deportment and methods of self defense, but he also becomes her champion supporter, her rock of protection and, eventually, her bold choice of a lover. I really like how Evelyn seizes the day and her happiness and snatches her moments with Bennett without thought for the future. Sometimes you just have to live in the moment.
This book brought a smile to my face as I read it. Both Bennett and Evelyn are likable protagonists, both dedicated to their careers and thinking marriage is not an option. When these two independent souls find common ground, it’s beautiful to read.
Ms DeHart writes a nice historical portrait of the very early days of Victoria’s reign, before Albert, and when England wasn’t yet sure of this very young queen who would eventually become a beloved and memorable royal.
All in all, Undercover With the Earl is a fun, feel-good romance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
National Bestselling author, Robyn DeHart’s novels have appeared in the top bestselling romance and historical romance lists. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Her historical romantic adventure series, The Legend Hunters, were not only bestsellers, but also award-winners, snagging a Reader’s Crown and a Reviewer’s Choice award. She had three releases in 2013 and 2014 will see four more, all set in the popular historical romance Regency and Victorian eras. Known for her “strong dialogue and characters that leap off the page” (RT Bookclub) and her “sizzling romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been featured in USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. A popular writing instructor, she has given speeches at writing conferences in Los Angeles, DC, New York, Dallas, Nashville and Toronto, among many others.
When not writing, you can find Robyn hanging out with her family, husband (The Professor) a university professor of Political Science and their two ridiculously beautiful and smart daughters, Busybee and Babybee as well as two spoiled-rotten cats. They live in the hill country of Texas where it’s hot eight months of the year, but those big blue skies make it worth it.