Earl of Benton (Wicked Earls' Club #9)by Madeline Martin Published 06 Mar 2018
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HIS ACTIONS COULD BE TREASON...
Alistair Johnstone’s days of running whisky come to an abrupt halt when he inherits an earldom. After years of living in Scotland and denying his English heritage, he now must return despite his mother’s bitter contempt and his own lack of desire. When his mother’s attempt to run whisky goes awry, Alistair is forced to step in and save her by doing one last whisky run – however, if he’s caught, he will face a traitor’s death.
SHE IS RUNNING FOR HER LIFE...
Emma Thorne’s uncle is trying to kill her and so far has failed, thank goodness. But with only one month until she reaches her majority, inherits her fortune and is released from his guardianship, she knows she is not safe. Emma escapes to a nearby estate where she stumbles upon a house party being held by the Wicked Earls’ Club and finds herself at the mercy of the most extraordinary earl. One who could save her or see her condemned.
PERHAPS THEY CAN SAVE EACH OTHER.
When innocent lies become reality and danger follows them every step of the way, could love be the answer to both their problems, or will their passions be their undoing?
"Earl of Benton (Wicked Earls' Club #9)" Reviews
Alistair Johnstone is the reluctant Earl of Benton, raised Scottish, he wants nothing to do with his English heritage, but when his grandfather dies, he has no choice, much to his mother's dismay (and rage). He is attending a house party hosted by the Wicked Earl's Club when he learns that his mother is in trouble and he needs to return to Scotland right away. While discussing his mother's dilemma with his valet, he spies Emma hiding in a stall with his dog Beast.
Emma is running for her life, she is a month away from inheriting her father's vast fortune and ceasing to be under her uncle's guardianship. Her uncle has tried to force her to marry his son Conrad, but she refuses, so now it appears that her uncle has a new plan. Emma finds her maid Jenny dead and her servants urge her to go, pointing out that Jenny was wearing one of her dresses and looks like her from the back - Jenny was not the intended victim, Emma was. Emma takes off and knows they are following her, she heads for the nearby estate and lets her horse go, she hides in the stables and overheads Alistair and his valet McKenzie talking. He spots her just as her uncle arrives and he covers for her. After her uncle leaves, he says he will help her, but wants some answers.
Alistair sneaks her into the house and there is a comical scene with Emma trying on disguises, they settle on a shocking gown and will pretend that she is his lover. They leave and successfully fool her uncle before they make their escape. Once in the carriage, Emma tells Alistair to leave her in the next village - he assures her he will not hurt her and goes as far as to give her a dagger to "protect" herself. He offers to take her to Scotland and ensures that he will give her safe passage back to London. Emma agrees. They travel together and let the innkeepers assume that they are married, for the sake of her reputation (and to throw her uncle off her trail). They arrive in Scotland and he sees his cousin Hamish, Hamish sees Emma and makes a comment, but Emma tells him they are married. A statement that Alistair agrees to, but what Emma doesn't realize is they are in Scotland and by declaring themselves married in front of witnesses - they are in fact married. Alistair decides to keep this from her and figures he will sort it out later. They share a room and finally give into the desire they have both been denying.
They travel to his castle and Alistair is dismayed when he sees that nothing has been repaired. Emma begins to have doubts about Alistair - maybe he is just after her money and all his compliments and sweet words were just a ruse to trick her into falling for him. If this revelation wasn't bad enough, she then meets Madge, Alistair's English-hating mother. Madge is livid that Alistair has brought Emma to her home. She spits at Emma's feet, demands Alistair make her leave and refuses to leave her room until she is gone.
Emma has had enough and asks to be taken to her room. Alistair takes her and explains why Madge is so hateful and he says he will go talk to Madge. As he leaves, Emma realizes that she is falling in love with him. He talks to Madge and learns why the repairs haven't' been made, she is still angry, but it is clear she loves him and misses him, which is why she forced him to come home.
Emma spends a restless night and when she hears someone at her door, she thinks it is Alistair - but it is Madge - a raging, screaming Madge who charges at Emma. Emma grabs the dagger Alistair gave her - she is tired of being the victim and will not go down without a fight!
Alistair goes looking for Emma and finds her in the great hall with Madge - they are both drunk. Alistair helps Emma back to her room and she finally explains why she doesn't believe Alistair's compliments are sincere. Alistair tells her she is wrong, what she believes are flaws are what he likes best.
The next day, Alistair meets with Hamish, they are preparing to smuggle whisky to England for Madge. This was the great emergency that brought him to Scotland, she made promises to some very shady people and there was no way she could deliver the whisky. Alistair has to save her, but if he is caught smuggling Scots whisky into England, he will be tried for treason. He also doesn't want Emma to know, because it will only further her belief that men only want her for her money. He makes the final preparations with Hamish and they enter the hall. Emma and Madge are together and Hamish addresses her as Lady Benton. Emma is embarrassed and says it was a lie, but Madge points out that because they declared themselves in front of witnesses, they are in fact married. Emma is stunned and then angry - why didn't Alistair tell her? And when Madge mentions her fortune, she feels betrayed, she loved him and believed that he was sincere, but now she knows she was a fool.
The next day before she leaves, Madge talks to her and tells her that she thinks that Emma and Alistair can be happy and that Emma is welcome at the castle. Emma is touched, but is not sure Madge is correct about her and Alistair. When they finally set off, he tries to talk to her, but she is not having it. And when she asks about the carriage and the cart, he lies. She calls him on his lie and he finally tells her everything. She is still upset and heartbroken, but even worse - still in love with him. Alistair doesn't want to lose her, but he has no idea how to right the wrongs he has done.
Can Alistair convince Emma he loves her? What about her uncle? And the whisky? Is there anyway for these two to overcome the hurt and betrayal? You'll just have to read the book to find out!!
This was a well written, fully fleshed out novella, it has amusing moments, steamy love scenes, lies, betrayals, crazy mothers and evil relatives, a sweet dog and very hard won HEA.
This is the ninth installment of the Wicked Earls' Club, but like the previous books, it is a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and the entire series!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by the author*
Guaranteed to fog up your glasses! Madeline Martin has written another steamy Highland romp that's sure to keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.
"Earl of Benton" is the story of Alistair Johnstone, the reluctant Earl who is a whiskey runner on the side. He never wanted to inherit the title, but had little choice when his English grandfather passed on. Now he must deny his Scottish heritage and family legacy of whiskey running. Now he finds himself in quite the predicament when he stumbles across a bonny English lass who is in desperate need of saving.
Emma Thorne is the only daughter of a very rich merchant... she's an heiress to a vast fortune, but she has no access to it until her twenty-fifth birthday (two weeks away.) Until that time, her uncle is in charge of her accounts. The ideal of turning over his power doesn't set well with him, and he has tried to kill Emma on multiple occasions... luckily he has failed thus far. Now Emma is on the run and in hiding until she reaches her majority when she can claim her inheritance.
Neither Alistair nor Emma have any plans to marry, but when they both feel a magnanimous attraction to eachother... what will happen?
Great story, fabulous characters (I especially loved Madge), and for a novella, a brilliantly done conflict/resolution plot that didn’t feel rushed. 5*
I think this is my favorite book in the Wicked Earl's Club series. Madeline Martin did an excellent job with this story. Definitely worth the read.
Every time I pick up one of Madeline Martin's books, my heart gets shredded. She creates such characters that they find a way to get under my skin and make me care so much about them. I then find myself on the edge of my seat when they get into trouble, praying they get out of it. And her happy endings...they bring tears to my eyes every time. (Is this where I use "all the feels"?)
Emma and Alistair were no different. I loved how perfect they were together, even when they weren't together. And when they were...wow! I really enjoyed seeing Emma as such an innocent person. It really suited her character that she was sheltered, protected, a virgin. I almost got to see the world in a fresh way through her eyes.
I felt for Emma and her plight immediately. Her creepy uncle is trying to force her to marry his son so that they can control her wealth, basically. And she wants nothing to do with it. So, when the book opens with a murder of a servant who was mistaken for Emma and we see just how far her uncle is willing to go to get her money, it is easy to feel for her and want everything to work out in her favor. And, of course, I wanted her uncle to get what was coming to him.
I thought Alistair's mom, Madge, was incredibly entertaining. She hates the English. Emma is English. You see where I am going with this? I wanted to smack her upside the head a few times but ultimately ended up liking her.
The pacing on this book was perfect. There were no lulls and I actually read two-thirds of it in the middle of the night because I got so sucked in and just couldn't put it down.
The more I read of Madeline Martin's books, the more I love historical fiction.
Disclaimer: As with many romances, this one is 18+ due to some mild sexual content.
Emma Thorne is the only daughter of a very rich merchant, she's an heiress to a vast fortune, but she has no access to it until her twenty-fifth birthday. She found her maid murdered and she’s knows she needs to flee she’ll be accused of murder by her Uncle…she must flee London until she reaches her majority. She literally runs and hides right onto the estate Alistair Johnstone is renting for a Wicked Earl’s party.
Alistair Johnstone, the reluctant Earl who knows his whiskey running must come to an end, now to convince his mother before he’s accused of being a traitor. He’s been living in London for a year, denying his Scotland heritage, but he just learned he must now return to his home in Scotland before his Mother is caught smuggling whiskey and he’s declared a traitor. Alistair rescues Emma and invited her to hide in Scotland until she turns twenty-five. Along the way she inadvertently admits they are married in front of witnesses and (unbeknownst to Emma they end up married) …not something either of them planned on. Emma finds herself at the mercy of the most extraordinary earl who can save her or see her condemned for murder. Alistair finds himself extremely attracted to his wife, but will they both come to realize before it’s too late happiness is there’s if they just believe in it!!!
This is my honest opinions after I voluntarily read a copy of this book that was provided to me with no requirements for a review.