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2.9 out of 5 stars15
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 3 September 2014
I appreciate that everyone has differing views but I personally do not understand the incredibly negative reviews about this book?! Yes it touches on subjects that people may not find comfortable, however, in reality some of the privileged males of the time did take advantage of their servants, and sometimes they were young girls. In this book, the heroine needs to protect her 2 siblings from a cousin who has a preference for younger girls, in fact, it is the impetus for her actions so it's not as if it's been thrown in to shock.
I personally loved the hero, he has issues, and btw, he also likes to be dominant in the bedroom, these books are for adults, and let's face it, as a reader who is old enough to read one of these book, I have an understanding of the possible things that can happen in a bedroom and no one should be shocked to read it. As a previous reviewer stated, it's better written that any of the 50 shades books and in fact the characters and their interactions with each other are beautifully written. The relationship between Tony and Isabella left me wishing I was her tbh, because he did want to protect her, wanted to be all she needed in fact and he wasn't afraid to tell her and vice versa, truth be told, he was arrogant but likable because he was confident in what he could offer her, both financially and emotionally and willingly offered it. My tummy was like a roller coaster reading the dialogue between them, emotionally and sensually, this book really packs a good punch, however, it is not a sweet romantic fantasy with witty repartee, bumbling great aunts, cartoon villains and allusions to relatives born on the wrong side of the blanket, although there are other characters who help diffuse the intense emotional impact of the H&M. The more I think about it, this book is actually one of the very best I have ever read, because at no point did anyone become a romantic novel caricature of what their characters were meant to be, they were very human and wonderfully realised. I loved it and am glad I had pre-ordered it rather than reading the previous reviews, although, I rather think I would have bought it based on the negative reviews as well, because I prefer my romance novels with a good gritty story, some decent bedroom scenes, emotionally wrenching dialogue and nicely rounded characters. If you like sweet romances where it's all based in a ballroom, with a couple of kisses, maybe 1 bedroom scene and lots of misunderstandings and contrivances, this book is not for you. If you like Sylvia Day, Lavinia Kent, Julie Anne Long, Elizabeth Hoyt and writers of that ilk, I'm pretty sure you'll love this.
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on 28 August 2014
Originally published at Rookie Romance.

I was thoroughly intrigued by this sweet historical romance that frequently took some decidedly steamy turns- much to my delight!

Isabella is desperately seeking a new situation as a governess in order to keep a roof over her head, and her younger sisters' heads as well. She reluctantly applies for a position as a governess for the rather notorious Earl of Hepplewood, but he offers her a much different position as his mistress. Outraged, Isabella leaves and is determined she won't see the disreputable Earl again. But soon she is back in his arms, and they both discover a darkly sensuous bond between them that won't be denied.

I really liked Isabella. She's strong by necessity and she would do anything for her younger sisters. She's rather selfless and I truly admired her. She could be indecisive about Anthony and what she wanted from him, but I think it works for the story. She's relatively sheltered about sex, as most women were then, so she's unsurprisingly shocked and confused about the feelings Anthony arouses in her and the things he does to her. I think it would have been totally unrealistic if she'd just taken it all in her stride.

Anthony is a wonderful character because he's complex and his personality is well developed. He comes across as a cold, ruthless rake, but there's an awful lot more to him. Sure, he is initially only interested in Isabella as his mistress and wants her in his bed. Yet soon enough he is fascinated and transfixed by Isabella and he would do anything to protect her. Anthony is unrelentingly loyal to those closest to him, and he is haunted by parts of his past that make him feel unworthy of Isabella. I also adored how utterly relentless he was in his pursuit of Isabella!

I loved the back and forth between Isabella and Anthony as they work out their relationship. It's not straight forward or easy, but it's definitely worth it in the end. They have a very passionate chemistry, and there are elements of dominance and submission in the steamier scenes which might not appeal to every reader- but they appealed to this one!

There's a very interesting part of the plot involving Isabella's repulsive cousin, Everrett, which grows in importance towards the latter half of the book, which adds some mystery and intrigue to the story line.
Overall, I was thoroughly engrossed in this story. I loved Isabella and Anthony's intense connection and thought they were such a sweet and deserving couple.

*I received a review copy from the publisher for my honest opinion. Thank you!
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on 16 October 2014
Please don't be put off by the low ratings for this book, which I think may have been given because of the nature of the sex scenes and of the sexual relationship between the central couple. It's a bit of a departure for mainstream historical romance, to be sure, but the story itself is very well written and characterised, with a strong emphasis on the emotional relationship between the characters, and their relationship has real depth.

One of the things Ms Carlyle does so well in this story is show the very real difficulties and danger faced by a young woman in the heroine's situation. Well-born and gently-bred Isabella Aldridge was left with nothing upon the death of her father and had to assume the care of her two younger sisters (a half-sister and a step-sister). While her upbringing seemed to her at the time to have been idyllic, she has come to realise that perhaps her father did not do his best for her, being too easy-going and concerned with his own pursuits and interests.

Isabella works as a governess and needs to secure a new position in order to support herself and her sisters. She not only has to contend with the day-to-day worry of keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table, but she lives in constant fear of her slimy cousin - a man known for his sexual preference for young girls - who keeps asking her to marry him and hinting that he has a legal right to the guardianship of Isabella's sisters.

Assailed on all fronts and with nobody to turn to, Isabella travels to the north of England in hopes of securing a position as governess to the five-year-old daughter of the Earl of Hepplewood, a man whose name is a byword for debauchery, and who certainly seems to more than live up to his reputation. One look at the beautiful Isabella and he wants to bed her - but instead of seducing her, he dismisses her, telling her she's too lovely to be a governess and that she should make the most of her assets by finding herself another husband or, even better, a rich protector.

Dejected, Isabella returns to London, and continues to look for work. After several more rejections, she decides there is only thing she can do. As Hepplewood had suggested, Isabella's beauty and breeding make her ideally suited to become a kept woman, a mistress, and she reasons that becoming a "fallen woman" will be a small price to pay in order to provide for her sisters and to keep them safe from her cousin.

Hepplewood is a widower who, on first acquaintance, is unpleasant, rude and clearly a man who is used to getting whatever he wants. As the story progresses and the author reveals more about him through words and most particularly his actions, the reader is presented with the portrait of a deeply troubled man whose arrogance and insistence on maintaining his ruthless control are really coping mechanisms. He doesn't deny his terrible reputation or the truth behind it - but he never lies to Isabella, and while there's certainly a murky side to him, he's an utterly compelling and truly honourable man.

After their first night together, Hepplewood finds himself unaccountably burdened with an attack of conscience, and sends Isabella away. Fortunately, he honours the financial side of their agreement, which means that Isabella now has enough money to support herself and her sisters. Yet Hepplewood can't forget her - and even though Isabella refuses his offer to return to his protection, she is unable to deny the strong pull between them. The relationship that develops between the couple is passionate and very intense, imbued with a sensuality that leaps off the page.

I'm not someone who normally reads erotic romance, or stories which involve elements of BSDM, but because I enjoy this author's work I decided to give The Earl's Mistress a try and I'm really glad I did.
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on 26 March 2015
This was a disgusting S&M writing. When the scenes were involved with unadulterated S&M the hero realised he was falling in love - "truly and deeply". Clearly the author has never had contact with love. The heroine (in spite of the novel portraying her as a self-sacrificing sister, etc) was the sorriest excuse for a woman with a brain in regard to the hero. The authors first books were very good, then they became wordy and boring beyond description, now they have sunk to the lowest common denominator. I give up on her. She certainly has writing ability but needs to rethink her plots and get some depth to her characters and storyline. If she wants us to be interested in her characters and at the very least like them she should do away with this "dominator" nonsense together with his chains, crops, beatings and box of sex toys.
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on 20 September 2014
I too cannot understand the negative reviews. After reading some of them I really thought I might be embarking on a superior version of 50 Shades but in reality I found the story incredibly interesting and well written (as always), the sex in no way excessive, either in content or frequency, and I really didn't want the book to end.

Nora Roberts it isn't but neither is it the equivalent of the top shelf genre.

As long as you are adult and a bit open minded, I imagine you would enjoy it. Well done, Ms Carlyle!
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on 18 April 2015
What could have been a brilliant story, was downgraded by adopting an S&M 50 shades of grey tone with phrases like " bend you to my will" . The sexual relationship between Anthony and Isabela was completely off-putting and quite frankly i had to skip the pages as i found the whole theme of subjugating a woman to sexually control her , repulsive. Isabela was not credible every time she said she wanted to be treated in such a way! Complex relationships and difficulties the hero and heroine need to overcome are part of the magic of romance , Isabela needing to offer herself as a mistress to support her family is a realistic theme but to write such rubbish as the central plot has downgraded Carlyles quality. The novel lacks a 'real plot ' and found I was struggling to finish it. An absolute shame !
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on 13 February 2015
I loved this book. It combines a great plot with well developed characters and plenty of kinky sex. Unlike some books of this type the plot is believable and the characters are interesting. The sexy bits are not over the top, I have read some books that are much more outrageous. This has just the right amount of spice.
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on 23 January 2016
Many reviewers disliked the theme of this novel but I liked it. It's very 'fifty shades' but less graphic and with better drawn characters and a stronger storyline; it's also better written.
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on 14 September 2014
I have read all of Liz Carlyle's books and thoroughly enjoyed them all, until this one. Over the last 30 years I have read hundreds, if not thousands of romance books, of all genres including historical, fantasy and erotica. As most readers do I have my favourite authors who I buy automatically, including liz Carlyle who does romance with a capital R and still gives a decent story with great characters. Unfortunately with this book she appears to have jumped on the 50SoG bandwagon as so many others have ..... I have not actually read 50 Shades as it did not appeal but I am a fan of Emma Holly, Lorelei James etc and enjoy a good erotic book with a bit of kink thrown in so I go to certain favourite authors when that's what I want to read and I know what I'm getting. BUT that is not the type of book I expected or want from Liz Carlyle. She has written some lovely historical romances including the wonderful My False Heart and Beauty Like the Night which had strong dominant heroes without resorting to borderline cruelty. The writing in The Earls Mistress still flows beautifully but the S&M scenario when the main characters meet for just the 2nd time is jarring ... Why Isabella would jump back into his ( or rather her) bed with him on their 3rd meeting beggars belief. I persevered with it to the end although I did skim though the sex scenes as this type of sex is done much better by other authors .... for me the best bit of the book was the epilogue which showed humour and warmth that was lacking elsewhere in the book. Hopefully, this book was a misguided wrong turn and the author will get her romance mojo back soon.
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on 27 August 2014
This could have been great.....it started off really well but went down hill fast for me.....what could have been a lovely sexy meeting between the Earl and Isabella was ruined by unnecessary things like the use of whips spanking and other things... I like all the sex in my books to go with the story these for me did not
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