Book Review: The Indebted Earl

The Indebted Earl
Serendipity & Secrets #3
by Erica Vetsch

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Christian historical romance

When her fiance Rich succumbed to injuries sustained near the end of the war between France and her home country of England, Lady Sophia Haverly did not not expect to ever fall in love and marry someone else. Instead, she would continue to care for her elderly almost-mother-in-law, who developed a strong desire to return to the seaside, where she’d grown up. She finds assistance in this endeavor in the form of Captain Charles Wyvern, close friend of her late fiance, who tells her that Rich died saving his life, leaving him indebted to helping Sophia however he can. The captain, while desperate to head back out to sea, has his own reason for going to the coast–his uncle has just died, and he’s inherited the estate and title of earl. When he finds that the estate is in bad shape, not to mention the three young girls he’s inherited as wards, he seeks help from the young woman to whom he owes a great debt.

The third book in the series stands as tall as the first three. I loved how the captain was so out of his element on land, while Sophia equally did not take to the sea very well. The three girls, aged between 5 and 16, added a layer of life to the story that all worked together so well. Sophia, not much older than the eldest girl herself, found herself in the role of mothering the kids simply because she fell in love with them so quickly. And her relationship with her late fiance’s mother-in-law, Mamie, as well as Mamie’s relationship with the three wards, made this book about so much more than the main romance.

In fact, my biggest frustration with the book was the repetitiveness that came with Sophia starting to let herself move on from her loss. She kept sort of chastising herself for holding another man in high esteem and possibly wanting more from that, always ending with a question of whether that was how it should be or not. This may be completely realistic, but the repetition wore on me just a bit. That’s pretty much where the half point rating detraction came from. On the other hand, 5-year-old Betsy’s attachment to the captain’s hat is wonderful!

Here at the end of the series, my favorite character overall has been Marcus Haverly. He also played the most significant role throughout, being the male lead in the 2nd book, while also having decent roles in the first and third. I love that his alter ego gets to play a role in all three books, too, and wish Erica Vetsch would somehow write a little more about him (maybe a short story in which Sophia and Charles learn of his former occupation?).

While I found parts of this story predictable, and one particular part far too convenient, I loved it overall. It’s a great ending to a great series, which I highly recommend to fans of Christian romance, historical or otherwise, and fans of Regency romance. And if you do plan to read these books, or already have, make sure you also look into the book Joy to the World, a collection of 3 novella-length Christmas stories. Vetsch’s contribution to that book takes place directly after this third book in the series and ties up the story of a character that has been involved in the series.

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

Find out more about The Indebted Earl

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Gentleman Spy

The Gentleman Spy
Serendipity & Secrets #2
by Erica Vetsch

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Christian historical romance

Spoiler notice: The following review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series, The Lost Lieutenant.

Marcus Haverly much preferred his life as a “spare,” the second son of the Duke of Haverly, which allowed him to stay in the background of society and do his work as a secret agent for the Crown without fear of discovery. But when his father and older brother both die, the mantle of duke is thrust upon him, bringing many duties that clash with his clandestine work. One of those duties is to marry an eligible young woman, and he’ll be under much scrutiny by the rest of society until he does so. When he meets Lady Charlotte, who has been chastised by her parents for not conforming to society standards, thus leaving her in danger of becoming a spinster, Marcus makes a snap decision to marry her, expecting to use her as a cover for his secret life. But Charlotte has other ideas of what she wants out of a marriage, throwing a wrench in his plans.

I enjoyed the 2nd book in this series as much as I enjoyed the first. I already liked Marcus going into this book, since he was my favorite side character in the previous book. And while I wanted to throttle him a few times during the story, I still loved the book. Charlotte was a much bigger part of the story than the synopsis–both the official one and the one I wrote above–make her seem. Her arc was definitely a captivating part of the story.

This series so far has been all about my favorite type of romance–a marriage thrown together hastily between two people who don’t really know each other, and the development of the relationship between husband and wife. The only thing that really bothered me in this story is that Marcus, an otherwise intelligent and capable man, was so stupid when it came to his marriage, even after getting brilliant advice from a very wise woman. I’m not saying it’s completely unrealistic, but he got right up to that point of starting to annoy me. Thankfully, the rest of the book was so good, my frustrations with Marcus were overall very minor.

Charlotte’s plight to help the working girls of London really endeared her to me. It was also reminiscent of the first book, and I love that connection between the two. I also loved seeing the Whitelocks so much, which makes even more sense than it might in other series of “stand-alones,” because Marcus and Evan were such close friends in the previous book. Reading the previous book isn’t really necessary before reading this one, but I’d still recommend starting there, because it will make the experience of the 2nd book richer. I’m also very excited about the next book in the series, which won’t release until next March, especially since one of the main characters is Marcus’s sister. We meet her in this book, and though her time in the story was brief, I really liked her!

As with the previous book (though for a different reason), I don’t think the official synopsis for this book is good, especially since it depicts Marcus as unhappy with some of Charlotte’s endeavors. So take it with a grain of salt. But the book itself is great, and I definitely recommend it to fans of Christian romance, historical or otherwise, and fans of Regency romance.

Find out more about The Gentleman Spy

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Lost Lieutenant

The Lost Lieutenant
Serendipity & Secrets #1
by Erica Vetsch

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Christian historical romance

As Evan Eldridge recovers from an injury sustained in the war against Napoleon, he wants nothing more than to get back to the fighting. Instead, the Prince Regent (who later became King George IV) makes him an earl, due to Evan saving the life of the prince’s godson in the same event where Evan was injured, not that Evan can remember much of anything about that day. The Prince Regent then insists that Evan marry his goddaughter Diana, whose father is looking forward to marrying her off to someone of his choosing, for his own gain. Diana and Evan both bring secrets into this marriage, and real lives are at stake.

This book hit so many right buttons with me. The characters are well-crafted, historical details are immersive, and the stakes are high in so many ways. I really liked the story that unfolded regarding Evan’s trauma and forgotten memory–his PTSD was real, and the mystery and intrigue culminated in an exciting climax.

Evan and Diana were both characters that I really connected with in some way, and together, they had a beautiful romance that was one of my favorite kinds in fiction. I wouldn’t classify it as actual “marriage of convenience,” but it’s similar, and I love that trope, especially in Christian fiction. Diana has some trauma of her own, in the form of an abusive father and brother. Together, they have a lot to overcome as husband and wife. I loved several of the supporting characters in this book as well and am especially excited to read the second book in this series, which focuses on one of those side characters.

There was one thing that happened, which I won’t explain in detail, that I felt was more of an obvious contrivance–something to keep the couple from being too happy too soon in the book. It bothered me, especially, when there was a clear opportunity for this thing to be addressed later, but it wasn’t, and I think that was a further contrivance for the plot. I only wish the author had chosen something less important, something the climax wouldn’t have hinged upon, if she wanted to throw a new wedge between the married couple.

One other thing, and this isn’t a fault with the book, is that the synopsis, in my opinion, gives away too much. I won’t say more, though, because it might be subtle enough if I don’t point out details. Small gripes aside, I loved this book and definitely recommend it to fans of Christian romance, historical or otherwise, and fans of Regency romance.

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

Find out more about The Lost Lieutenant

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!