REVIEW: Earls Trip by Jenny Holiday

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Illustrated cover showing an historical/Regency carriage with Regency people inside heading up a drive to a castle. Between the carriage (at the bottom) and the castle (at the top of the cover) there is a large lawn and trees and one MF couple holding hands and walking up a path and another couple on a blanket on the lawn.The first in a sparkling Regency-era series with a delightfully modern feel, set against the irresistible backdrop of an annual trip taken by three handsome earls . . .

Even an earl needs his ride-or-dies, and Archibald Fielding-Burton, the Earl of Harcourt, counts himself lucky to have two. Archie (the jock), Simon (the nerd), and Effie (the goth) have been BFFs since their school days, and their annual trip holds a sacred spot in their calendars. This year, Archie is especially eager to get away—until an urgent letter arrives from an old family friend, begging him to help prevent a ruinous scandal. Archie’s childhood pal Olive Morgan must be rescued from an ill-fated elopement—and her sister Clementine must be rescued from rescuing Olive. Suddenly the trip has become earls-plus-girls.

This . . . complicates matters. The fully grown Clementine, while as frank and refreshing as Archie remembers, is also different to the wild, windswept girl he knew. This Clem is complex and surprising—and adamantly opposed to marriage. Which, for reasons Archie dare not examine too closely, he finds increasingly vexing.

Then Clem makes him an indecent and quite delightful proposal, asking him to show her the pleasures of the marriage bed before she settles into spinsterhood. And what kind of gentleman would he be to refuse a lady?

Content notes:

Dear Jenny Holiday,

Earls Trip is the first historical of yours I’ve read; to date, all the other books I’ve read of yours have been contemporary. I’m a big fan of your contemporary novels. They’re auto-reads for me (or auto-listens, as the case may be), so I was keen to read Earls Trip

Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the story as much as I wanted to. I think maybe your historical voice doesn’t work as well for me as your contemporary one does. Or, perhaps it is that I kept hearing your contemporary voice in a historical novel and it didn’t fit. Something like that anyway.

There were parts of Earls Trip I enjoyed (more particularly in the last third of the story which I won’t go into here because spoilers) but overall it wasn’t a book which wowed me. It wasn’t bad; I just couldn’t get all that excited about it. Which is definitely not what I said about Canadian Boyfriend recently, for example.

Archie and his BFFs, Simon and Effie, are remarkably evolved for white, wealthy, male, historical nobility. They openly talk about love and (at least in this universe) Simon coins the term “found family”. Clementine and to a somewhat lesser extent, her sister, Olive, also felt more modern than the setting did. It’s certainly not unusual for modern sensibilities to be explored in historical romance; most recently I’ve read Sarah MacLean doing exactly that, quite successfully for me, in Bombshell and Knockout. But in Earls Trip I felt a kind of dissonance about it.  On the other hand, all of the main characters are misfits of a sort and I do relate to that. There ought not be anything objectionable about a more emotionally soft and fluffy earl but for some reason I couldn’t get that to fit neatly in my head with the otherwise Corinthian pursuits Archie had (boxing, hunting, shooting, for instance), including his sexual experience and expertise. Archie was both very in touch with is feelings. His mother has dementia – perhaps Alzheimer’s although of course it was not called that – and almost never remembers him anymore and he is openly distraught by this and not remotely “stiff upper lippish”. He is very freely affectionate with his friends Simon and Effie), but he’s quite clueless about what he feels for Clem. Again, it seemed a bit incongruent to me.

As is usually the case, I didn’t refresh my memory on the blurb before I started reading. I was a little surprised by how quickly the initial scandal was resolved. The purpose of the scandal seemed to be more about getting the five young people together in an isolated location for a fortnight than that it was intended to be the central conflict.  There is perhaps a question about whether it was entirely proper for the two sisters to be alone with three bachelors for two weeks but if it raised issues for anyone, nobody objected. Once the group arrived at the castle, the book started to settle out for me however. I enjoyed the renewed friendship and affection between Clem and Olive. I liked that Clem’s example challenged all of the group to consider forgoing meat at least sometimes but also how she did not berate others for being carnivorous. Given Archie’s love of hunting and eating the results of the hunt, the idea of a “meatless Monday” (my words not from the book) was particularly difficult for him but in the end he respected Clem’s vegetarianism (or perhaps veganism?) and Clem herself sufficiently to make significant change freely and with no whining.

The humour is sometimes fairly broad – for example there is a phallic topiary garden at the castle. Sometimes it worked for me, sometimes it didn’t.

I wanted to like Earls Trip more than I did. I feel bad that I couldn’t quite connect to it. But I found myself avoiding rather than wanting to make time to read and that is always telling. As I write this, the early Goodreads reviews are rating the book at 3.89 so I may be an outlier.




Kaetrin started reading romance as a teen and then took a long break, detouring into fantasy and thrillers. She returned to romance in 2008 and has been blogging since 2010. She reads contemporary, historical, a little paranormal, urban fantasy and romantic suspense, as well as erotic romance and more recently, new adult. She loves angsty books, funny books, long books and short books. The only thing mandatory is the HEA. Favourite authors include Mary Balogh, Susanna Kearsley, Joanna Bourne, Tammara Webber, Kristen Ashley, Shannon Stacey, Sarah Mayberry, JD Robb/Nora Roberts, KA Mitchell, Marie Sexton, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, just to name a few. You can find her on Twitter: @kaetrin67.

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