The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase

The Mad Earl's Daughter Cover

Absolutely brilliant historical romance

The Mad Earl’s Bride (Scoundrels, #3.5) by Loretta Chase

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Pages: 158 pages
Source: Purchase
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

I’ve read just about everything Loretta Chase ever wrote, and she’s written some amazing historical novels, but this story, in my humble opinion, is perhaps her very best. It originally appeared in an anthology in 2009, Three Weddings and a Kiss, but it is currently available as a standalone reissue in Kindle form. I purchased the paperback version of the anthology when it originally came out, and this story was the main reason I purchased it. I liked it so much, I repurchased this story when it came out in Kindle form.

Gwendolyn Adams is more than happy at the marital match urged on her by her relatives: offer herself as a bride to a dying man, Dorian, Earl of Rawnsley. As a woman from a highly fertile lineage, mutual family connections hope that she will save the earldom and lands that go with it from reverting to the crown if his line were to die with him. It doesn’t bother the indomitable Gwen that the utterly gorgeous earl believes he is going mad due to a malady of the brain that his physician believes will kill him within months. Gwen is an experienced nurse and a truly gifted healer, and her passion in life is to establish a hospital to serve the poor and downtrodden. Surviving as the widow of an earl will give her the social standing and income to fulfill that goal. What neither of them count on in making this very odd, marriage of convenience is the instant, white-hot attraction they both feel from the moment they meet.

Both of these highly sympathetic characters are in their 20’s, and both are extremely protective, caring people. I adored them equally, and I felt they were an excellent match.

The characterization of each is highly sophisticated and extremely historically accurate. So often historical romances are filled with historical anachronisms, but not this story. There is a central mystery as to what kind of illness Dorian is suffering from, and the torments he goes through, both with pain and the social stigma of believing he is going mad, are extremely well done. As for Gwen’s approach to medicine as a science, it is definitely unusual in that era, and yet not entirely so, because she employs the scientific method of outstanding case-taking, clinical observation, and research. That model existed in the early Regency period, and it exists today, though far too few doctors, even now, go to as much trouble as Gwen does in this story to figure out exactly what is the cause of Dorian’s symptoms.

Fans of Laura Kinsale’s magnificent novel, Flowers from the Storm will adore this story.

I rate this novella as follows:

Heroine: 5

Hero: 5

Romance Plot: 5

Medical Mystery Plot: 5

Historical Accuracy: 5

Writing: 5

Overall: 5