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Good Earls Don’t Lie

January 1st, 2017
Author: Michelle Willingham    Series: Earls Next Door #1

Lady Rose Thornton never expected to find a half-naked man in her garden. The handsome Irishman claims to be the Earl of Ashton, but was he truly robbed by thieves? Or is he merely an impoverished stranger lying to her?

After losing everything during the potato famine, Iain Donovan is searching for a wife whose dowry will save his estate. Lady Rose is beautiful, witty, and unable to walk, after an illness stole her strength. Rose agrees to help Iain find a wife, if he will help her learn to take her first steps.

As their friendship takes root and blossoms into something more, secrets about Iain’s birthright threaten the growing feelings between them. He has no right to love a woman like Rose, who deserves a better life than he can give her. Rose believes that there is more to Iain than a broken past, and she brings light to his shadows.

And within the walls of a secret garden, sometimes miracles can happen…

This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
My Review

First I’d like to thank Goodreads for hosting a give away and selecting me as one of the winners to receive a free copy of this book.

The Irishman had talked his way into it, and she had a feeling that the man could convince the devil himself to obey his wishes.
Those green eyes were the devil’s lure, beckoning her toward temptation.
Yet, he’d never expected the strong surge of jealousy that rose up within him like a fist to his gut. He had no right to feel possessive of Rose . . . but when he saw the viscount, he couldn’t control the response.
“Do you still claim to be an Irish earl, sir?” Her words held a dry humor, and the look in her eyes said she didn’t believe him at all. Iain’s mouth twisted in a smile. “My name is Lord Ashton, a chara. And you’ll have to wait and see, won’t you?”

I’ve never read a book penned by Michelle, there has been some I’ve been curious about, but after finishing this one, I am kinda unsure on if I want to try anymore of hers. I thought it was going to be more interesting when I first read the synopsis, but I guess not so this time.

“Don’t be looking at me like that, Lady Rose.” His tone grew rigid, like he was holding himself back. “Like what?” she whispered. “Like you’re wanting me to kiss you.” He moved in closer, and his expression left no doubt that he wanted to. The words made her heart beat faster, and she tried to calm herself. “We’re only friends,” she reminded him. “So we are. It doesn’t mean that I’m dead.” His pirate smile returned, and she did pull away this time. “Behave yourself.” She rested her hands upon his chest to keep him at arm’s length. “Is that what you want?” He reached out and covered her hands with his own. Her eyes locked with his, and she was conscious of his roughened hands against her gloved ones. She ought to pull away, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so. “O-of course.” Lord Ashton slid his hand into her hair, drawing it down the edge of her cheek. His touch burned through her skin in a path of heat. She felt the echo of sensation coursing through her, and she couldn’t have moved away if she’d wanted to. His green eyes held hers captive, and she was intently conscious of his touch. “Please don’t do this,” she whispered, while he was staring at her. He let his hand linger upon her chin, sliding it down her throat to her shoulder. A thousand shivers broke over her skin, and she felt herself bloom with arousal. She imagined this man kissing her again, and the very thought made her self-conscious. They had an agreement to help one another, and that was all. She shouldn’t dream of letting down the boundaries between them. “You’re worth more than six letters,” he said quietly. “I hope you know that.”
A few minutes later, she spied Lord Ashton arriving. The moment he saw her, his eyes locked upon hers. He crossed the room like a barbarian bent upon claiming his woman. The very idea sent a flare of heat through her, followed by frustration. She didn’t doubt for a moment that if she had Evangeline’s money or if she were stronger, he would have offered for her. A surge of anger rose up within her. Why did he insist on pursuing her, when he’d claimed he could not wed her? Was she not good enough? She straightened her spine, awaiting the confrontation. But before he reached her, Lord Burkham intervened. “He looks rather menacing, Lady Rose. Shall I guard you from the Irishman?” “I’ll be fine, Lord Burkham. But thank you.” As Iain pushed his way past the other guests, he didn’t seem aware that his family had arrived. He never saw the shocked expression that came over Lady Ashton’s face or the delight upon the faces of his sisters. Instead, he appeared ready to knock the viscount to the ground. He was angry, and that was quite clear when he reached her side. “Lady Rose, would you care to dance?” Lord Burkham asked. She recognized his invitation as a means of avoiding Iain. But it was like tossing oil upon Iain’s fury. “Thank you, but no.” She appreciated the viscount’s offer, but she was more curious about why Iain was here. “May I speak with you, Lady Rose?” There was a slight tic in Iain’s clenched jaw, and his eyes narrowed upon her. “Of course.” She waited for him to continue, but he sent a hard glare toward the viscount. “I’ll just . . . go now, shall I?” Lord Burkham ventured, appearing discomfited by the earl’s hostility. “Yes, do,” Iain answered. Once the viscount had left, he lowered his voice and said quietly, “Follow me. We need to talk in private.” She rather agreed with that, though when she passed Mrs. Everett, she didn’t miss the matron’s visible annoyance. “Go toward the library,” she said in a low voice. “I will meet you there.” But Iain wasn’t about to let go of her. His grip tightened upon her hand, and he cut a path through the crowd of people, leading her away from everyone. “Wait,” she started to protest. He needed to know that his mother and sisters were here. She was about to tell him, when he suddenly spun back. The look in his eyes was primal, like a man bent upon his needs. “I haven’t slept since the last moment we were together. I’m going to kiss you until you can’t stand up,” Iain said roughly. “I can do it here in front of everyone, or you can let me take you somewhere no one will see us.”
“He slid his arm around her waist and took her other hand in his. “I think you should be teaching me how to dance properly.” His palm was warm against hers, and he stood watching her. Those green eyes were the devil’s lure, beckoning her toward temptation. “That was our agreement, wasn’t it? You were going to prepare me for the dangers of London society.” “I am not ready to dance yet.” She didn’t feel at all ready to attempt it, even resting her feet upon his. And if she was honest, that was what made her uneasy. She didn’t want the intimacy of his skin beneath hers. “Try.” He leaned closer, and in his eyes, she saw friendliness and encouragement. “Or are you afraid I’ll step upon your toes?” “I would be stepping upon yours. And I do not think you wish to have them crushed. You would be hobbling for weeks.” She gave an apologetic smile. “It would be best if we stop for now.” “Not yet.” Rose could feel the warmth of his breath against her face, and his hand moved to her waist, lightly resting there. She couldn’t help but enjoy the heat of his touch. And instead of needing to pull away, she allowed him to continue. “Put your feet upon mine.” She hesitated, but obeyed. Her feet were still cold from the water, and the moment she stepped upon his, she let out a half shriek. “Your feet are freezing!” “And now you know my true reason for wanting to dance. You can warm my feet.” “It’s like standing upon ice.” She wanted to step off, but he began moving, forcing her to dance with him. As he took her in a slow waltz, she felt reckless in his arms. It did feel almost like dancing, and she couldn’t hold back her smile. “My grandmother would be appalled if she could see me right now.” “I would think she’d be glad to see you dance.” “I’m not dancing. Not truly.” But for a moment, it was good to imagine it. Perhaps in a few more months it might happen. “This is another way for you to move your legs,” he said. “They will get stronger if you dance with me.” She hadn’t truly considered that, but he was right. And it was more enjoyable than she’d thought it would be. “Next time, you should wear shoes,” she advised. “I will do the same.” He inclined his head and spun her around again. All around her, the sunlight warmed her skin, and she caught the faint fragrance of flowers. “Do you suppose your parents danced in this garden?” “I don’t know. But perhaps.” He slowed his pace, watching her closely. “Am I dancing like a proper English gentleman?” “You are, yes. There’s nothing to fear on that account.” Again, he took her across the garden, spinning her in the waltz. She was conscious of his hands on her waist and the way he was watching her.

I struggled to get into this book and I had to push myself to finish it because I’m one of those whom feels like they have to finish the book to see how it is unless it was utterly atrocious, which I wouldn’t say this one was though. Don’t get me wrong, Iain was a charming Irishman and very kind to Rose, trying to help her regain the use of her legs after her serious bout of illness. While I liked their interactions between one another and him feeling a bit miffed and jealous with Burkham’s attentions toward her, I felt it dragged in some parts and nothing exciting happened all throughout the book. It was just lacking that special ‘zing’ for me and while I am grateful for receiving it in a give away, I will not read it again. However, I am a bit curious about Rose’s sister, Lily’s, story as it gave a preview of it at the end of this where it states her secretly wedded husband – everyone thinks he is just her beau, not knowing they married in secret – has returned from captivity and torture in India, claiming to not know who she is. Slightly interesting, eh?

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