SAFE IN THE EARL’S ARMS
BY LIZ TYNER
Summary: A DARING ESCAPE, AND AN EVEN MORE DARING ATTRACTION!
Melina’s discovery of a priceless statue is her one hope of saving her family from ruin, if she can only persuade the Earl of Warrington to grant her safe passage on his ship to London. But Melina knows she’s gone too far when he takes her for a lady of easy virtue!
Thrown together during the voyage, he shockingly comes to realize his mistake. Now he’s honor-bound to keep her safe. But thrust into London’s social whirl, how long will it take before she discovers his scandalous, dark past?
Liz Tyner’s Safe in the Earl’s Arms, published by Harlequin Historical, must be the first true historical romance I’ve read in ages. A story of betrayal and love found, Safe in the Earl’s Arms is a pleasant enough read with some interesting historical information on the discovery of Venus de Milo. Set during the late part of Regency era England, the book reflects the formality of the era in tone, narrative, dialogue, and the actions of the characters.
At the center of this love story is Andrew, Earl of Warrington and the lovely Melina, bastard daughter of an English aristocrat raised on the island of Melos off the coast of Greece. For those that know their history (I wasn’t one of them until now), Melos, or Milos, is the island where the ancient statue Venus de Milo was discovered. Tyner takes some historical liberties, placing Melina at the site of the statue’s discovery and is where the plot takes off. War, as the Earl is known, meets Melina when she begs passage on his family ship that has docked on Melos. With the statue’s arm in her possession, she hopes to bring it to England, sell it, and provide for her and her sisters who have been left in poverty with the death of their mother and desertion of their father.
War agrees to take Melina to his brother, the captain of the Ascalon, who decides to give her passage. Her price for passage is her body, sold to War. What appears to be a simple transaction is nothing but and it starts the story rolling as the Earl begins a war against his feelings for Melina and himself after being betrayed by his now dead wife, Cassandra. First upon the Mediterranean Sea, then in London, War and Melina fight their attraction for each other and their pasts, which have left both devastated by the betrayal of those they presumed to love them. War is haunted by Cassandra, the wife he loved, who was not just promiscuous, but murderous as well. Melina must face the fact that her father abandoned her and her sisters, leaving her mother on her death-bed to return to his other family. These betrayals and obligations left to those who remain in the wake provide considerable hurdles for the pair as they find their way to each other.
The book is split into two parts, the first the voyage from Melos to England and then the time spent in London. Honestly, I enjoyed the sea voyage much more than the time on land. There the book was laden with witty dialogue, intriguing characters, and a much simpler relationship between War and Melina. Once they land things become complicated for the characters, and for the readers. I felt that the story got lost here as War, especially, seemed to flip flop with the turn of every page. One moment he’s bent on taking complete advantage of the bargain he and Melina made on board the Ascalon, the next he’s determined not to touch her. The ghost of Cassandra makes War doubt himself and the book seems to linger forever as he decides whether or not to let his dead wife control his happiness. Melina, however, appears to be more decisive as she tells her father basically to go to the devil while she plans her return to Melos.
Don’t get me wrong, this début novel from Tyner was most definitely enjoyable. As mentioned earlier, the dialogue is witty, quick, and filled with a dry humor I greatly appreciated. Tyner creates great visuals, using her descriptions to place the reader in the scene. The chemistry between War and Melina is well done, their encounters very sensual without the eroticism of books set in modern times.The supporting characters are delightful, most especially Gidley, the first mate aboard the Ascalon, and Broomer, War’s butler-valet-handyman-errand runner…you get the idea. But the book does drag in the middle, slowing the pacing considerably. The idea and plotline of the Venus de Milo is dropped mid book along with the statue’s arm and, as this was one of the most intriguing aspects of the book, I’d love to see it explored more.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review*
(Don’t miss the sequel to Safe in the Earl’s Arms, A Captain and a Rogue)