Girls Before Earls
This book had all the tropes I like–dislike at first to more, fishus galore, sassy young women, competitive boat racing (go with it), prim boarding schools…but unfortunately it lacked a certain spark that would, say, compel me to recommend this to others.
Hazel was a boarding school orphan and she’s now the head of a school for other wayward girls who need to be made into society ladies. But of course Hazel wants them to be MORE and get MORE out of life, and that more comes in the guise of lessons on biology/geology/history/what have you. The mamas, of course, will be horrified and threaten to pull out their impressionable daughters. The plot contrivance comes from the Earl of the title, who will bestow upon Hazel’s establishment respectability.
It’s all very well done but I am finding myself incapable of remembering much beyond Hazel’s predilection for wearing fishus, which isn’t the greatest of recommendations. A serviceable romance.
The Duchess Hunt
I actually think I disliked this book more than my rating might suggest. I think that I’m so taken with stories in which the main characters have known each other for a substantial amount of time that I’m willing to overlook some of the meh I felt and some of the icks I felt as well.
On the latter point, it is true that Penelope Pettypeace (what a name) is the employee of the romantic lead, and that brings up all sorts of uncomfortable feelings for me (power dynamics are not my thing, at all). There’s also the way in which the Duke goes about trying to find a Duchess that we’re supposed to find roguishly charming but has a whiff of “there’s not a single woman out there who is worthy except you!” a trope that I also do not enjoy by half. If you can only rustle up enough interest for one female character I am not swayed by your plot.
But it is indeed a slow burn, and there’s some light intrigue to keep things humming along since it is clear from literally page 5 that both of these characters are going to jump one another’s pants as soon as they plausible can. Can’t say I’d recommend it beyond filling space and pacing yourself.