West End Earl - Bethany Bennett
Date Read: June 6, 2021
Review: Puppy is a woman! Awww, I've always been a sucker for the gender-bending, hidden-right-under-your-nose reveals since back in school reading Shakespeare's works. What I love about Ms. Bennett's works are the heroines are always the ones doing the rescuing. Ophelia is the strong one in this novel. She saved herself years ago by taking on her brother's identity. She saves Emma in this book and Cal is mostly for conflict, love, and support. The women have more agency than the men in Bethany's books. Love it! The men fall quickly and thoroughly, too. This novel had great passion, an intricate plot, and great secondary characters. Loved how Cal downshifted quickly once it was revealed that Adam was Phee. He immediately starts flirting but protects Phee's identity and is even willing to risk scandal when the staff start to wonder about their relationship. Makes me think that Cal may have been a bit "in love" with Puppy all along and just accepting of that. After all, he'd always buy him things and purposely give him hand-me-downs tailored for "him." He's not turned off at all, just probably more turned on that Adam is actually Phee. What's definite is they had a deep bond for 2 years before the truth was revealed to Cal. There are plot twists and turns a-plenty here. Well done!
Series: Misfits of Mayfair #2
Tropes: Hidden Identity, Gender-bending, Friends to Lovers, Boyish & Strong Heroine, Secret crush, Marriage of Convenience.
Premise: If you read Any Rogue Will Do?, the first novel in this series, you'll recall Cal and his protege, Adam. We pick up with the Earl and "Puppy" here. Cal (The Earl of Carlisle) is being driven crazy by his wild sister, Emma, who always chooses the wrong men (can't wait for book #3!) and his reckless father, The Marquess of Eastly, who has lost the family fortune and trades Cal as collateral. "Adam" is really his sister Ophelia (aka Phee). Cal's long-time friend has been harboring a crush for him. But in order to save her own life, and inherit the money due her brother (who died in an unfortunate accident that Phee blames herself for) she must continue her ruse for a few more months or her uncle Milton will have her killed and take Adam's money. It's a bit complex but it worked for me. Meanwhile, Emma goes a bit too far being the wild one and needs rescuing but really needs a friend. Cal is trying to do too much for others and ends up ruining things by trying to fix things.
The Good: Love how the women always do the rescuing. Loved the passion between Cal & Phee. Loved the rescue of Emma, though that also caused some issues later on for me. Loved the friendship. I also like that the author is making each of her heroine's, so far, unconventional body types. Lottie, from book #1, was a plus-sized woman that found love, and Phee is flat-chested and rather boyishly built. Everyone, not just those deemed perfect, get a HEA. Loved seeing Lottie & Ethan again, too. I think I'm a sucker for a good beta hero.
The Bad: My one issue with this novel was how quickly Phee believed the worst about Adam for the dark moment. Granted, he was being a dolt but not to the extent that she thought. Also, I found the end of the masquerade a bit of a stretch. Without spoiling what happens, names and proximity are too close for someone not to figure out the truth and expose what happened. I just went with it because I loved the story and characters.
**I was given an ARC in order to write this unbiased review.**
Author Website: https://bethanybennettauthor.com/