I’d hate for someone to judge all of Cathy Maxwell’s books on The Earl Claims His Wife. As Agency Pricing continues being the gift that just won’t stop giving (much like VD) there is a possibility that you’re considering dropping 8 hard earned USD’s on this clunker. (If I can save just one of you, etc.) I didn’t even like the cover. Somehow she has ripped her dress around mid thigh, lost all her underthings and shoved her naked body out of the hole. He’s not faring much better. That’s someone else’s boot on the side there, or our hero has extra articulation in his thigh. (Add the super painful Barbie arch of her foot and this seems like a bad idea all around.)
But back to the contents. Brian, the Earl in question, is a complete Tool. Capital T, walking poster child for narcissistic personality disorder. Let’s take him first. Brian is in love with Jess, some chick from his childhood days, so he makes her his mistress. He’s a third son, and his dad tells him he has to get married anyway so he’s all like, whatever, you pick, I don’t care. He takes his blushing young virginal bride home, bangs her quick to get it over with (while thinking of Jess) then tells her his heart belongs to another and he is off to be with his true love. No really, like that. Surprised he didn’t wipe himself on her leg. Off he goes to be with the woman that holds his heart, leaving his new wife to deal with his disapproving and dominating parents. Then he’s off to war, where he doesn’t write his wife and upon his return just heads straight to be with Jess again. All this happens before we meet him. When we actually do meet Brian, he’s bellowing at his wife for having fled this torture chamber of a life and demanding she come home. She balks, he decides to kill someone to narrow her options. He’s a prize, isn’t he?
I wish I liked Gillian better. Not only does she have dreadful taste in men, she’s lacking in backbone. She’s left Brian (or left his parents actually) and found love (or desire) with a broke as hell Spanish baron working on the estate. Although she is like so totally sure she loves Andres, she hasn’t made any moves on him. She mostly watches him stroke horses and sighs while declaring that any minute now, any minute at all, maybe even right this second she’s going to get a divorce and be with him. Andres is totally down with that plan. Which makes her think maybe it’s a bad plan because when he says he wants her it seems like he’s being foolish. (COSIGNED) Anyway, there Brian is doing the bellowing thing in the driveway and dueling in the courtyard with Andres when it occurs to Gillian that someone might die and her options won’t be any better. She strikes a deal with Brian that she will go with him in exchange for her freedom in 30 days after she establishes him politically. (Which the divorce would then…. oh she’s not the brightest girl.)
Less than a day later, Gillian is riding Brian like he’s a naughty pony and forgiving him all. Jess is dead, you say? Well then! Andres is broke so let’s get it on. Of course, Jess isn’t dead and Brian hasn’t come seeking Gillian for love but because he has a household in shambles and a dying baby. Well, it’s Jess’s dying baby, but since his brothers have died (making him the heir y’all!) and the baby is his father’s, then this baby is the Only Brother He Has Left. Gillian is upset and suddenly Andres is looking good again. Despite her post nookie renewal of vows, she wants her 30 day countdown back. Then she doesn’t. Then she does. Then she doesn’t. Gillian wants to love whichever man she isn’t with.
Brian stomps his feet, holds his breath, and proves his independence from his controlling father. He does this by taking the post his father has arranged for him. (I know, Brian can’t be helped). His feelings of betrayal from Jess are all tied up in his feelings of anger at his father for banging his mistress. Brian takes comfort in the thought that the Evil Innocent Scheming Victim Jess has ensnared his father who thinks he is So Clever but Really Is Not. (I think Brian is 12. Maybe.) Brian’s mom doesn’t matter because women don’t matter in this book. This book is all about Needy Men Who Need Things. Don’t believe me? Let’s examine Jess.
Jess is stunningly beautiful and poor. Brian, the 3rd son, swears he loves her and is eternally devoted to her so she becomes his mistress. He moves in with her and sees to all her material needs. When he goes to war, she takes up with his creepy father. Does she do it because she feels betrayed by his marrying? No, she does it because she needs to monetize her youth. Really. She says so. Then she bears his father’s son, despite never having a kid with Brian. (I see a problem with the succession looming. Also, where are Brian’s older brother’s wives? Did they not have kids?) Brian’s dad is all, no kids, thanks, so Jess sends the baby to a warehouse where they put it in a closet and forget about it. (Not kidding.) Brian arrives in the Nick Of Time to take the baby and restore it to health where Jess comes to see it. Not because she wants her baby or has regrets, but because Brian’s dad tells her to go rattle Gillian’s cage. It doesn’t make any sense to the guy’s motivations, but it allows Gillian to cry a lot and jerk Andres around more. Why is Jess an Evil Whoring Bitch? Apparently she was born that way. Wouldn’t any woman whore herself out to father and son then abandon her child? It’s just, like, what they do. Bitches. Brian’s dad is like, you’re a victim of her awesome sexxing and Brian is like, no dad, YOU are and Jess is like, I can’t help it if I need to get paid.
Eventually, for no apparent reason, Gillian and Brian loudly declare their love for each other without ruining his political career and set off with their bastard sibling son for the diplomatic post his father wanted him to take in the first place. Brian has successfully broken free of his father by moving where his father wanted, working where his father wanted, and banging who his father wanted. Happy Ending Indeed. (Or not.)