Available: Now Amazon
Type: Historical Romance
My Copy: NetGalley
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.
Oh, how I love to discover a new to me author who has an entire backlog of books I can look forward to reading. Michelle Willingham has been on my radar for some time, but I haven’t gotten around to any of her books until now. Good Earls Don’t Lie had everything you could want in an historical romance: emotion, humor and likable characters you will be rooting for.
The book opens with Iain Donovan in quite a predicament. The Earl of Ashton is alone, without his carriage, his horses, his servants, his possessions and even most of his clothes. Dressed in nothing but a pair of trousers, he comes to after being knocked out and robbed upon his arrival in England. On his way to visit an old family friend whom he hopes can help him find a rich heiress to wed, Iain has nothing on his person to prove his identity. He has no choice but to continue on to Lady Wolcroft’s estate and hope they will have mercy on a half-clothed stranger.
Unfortunately Lady Wolcroft is not in residence. Iain surprises her granddaughter, Lady Rose, in the garden and tries to plead his case. He knows it looks suspicious, claiming to be an earl without even the clothes on his back, and Rose is rightfully skeptical. Something about the Irishman intrigues her, but she knows his story is probably just that – a story. Compassion and curiosity win out over her good sense, and she ends up giving him food and shelter for the night.
One night turns into two, and soon Iain has convinced Rose and her family to allow him to stay until her grandmother returns. Iain no longer has the letter Lady Wolcroft had sent him inviting him to her estate, but he has since recovered some of his belongings from the lad who stole them. His late brother’s signet ring is all the proof Lady Rose needs to believe in his story. While she is convinced her heart belongs to another, Iain offers her two things she desperately wants: friendship and his promise to help her learn to walk again.
Six months ago Rose fell ill and temporary paralysis robbed her of the ability to walk. She has slowly been gaining strength in her legs, but refuses to return to London until she can walk again. Rose is convinced no man will want a cripple for a wife, and she dreams of the day when she can walk into a ballroom and face her former suitor as a whole woman. Her plan goes awry when she develops deepening feelings for the earl. The more time they spend together, the more he comes to mean to her, despite the obstacles preventing a future between them.
In exchange for his assistance in her quest to walk, Rose promises to help Iain find an heiress to wed. He is desperate. Ireland is in the midst of a terrible famine and the people of Ashton are suffering. Those that haven’t succumbed to sickness or starvation have left, and it has fallen to Iain to save his people. His only hope is to marry a woman with a dowry large enough to bring Ashton out of poverty. He doesn’t count on falling in love with the one woman he can’t have. He would never wish the terrible life in Ireland on someone like Rose, but he can’t imagine a future without her in it.
I loved Rose and Iain. The depiction of her as a woman who longs to feel whole again was done perfectly without a lot of “woe is me” dialogue. Her determination and strength were admirable, and it was very easy to see why Iain quickly became taken with her. The struggle he faced between having to do the right thing and wanting to follow his heart felt so real, and I loved when he finally admitted to himself and to Rose that she was the only woman for him.
I give Good Earls Don’t Lie by Michelle Willingham 4 stars!