Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath
Euphemia “Effie” Nithercott is a woman very definitely born in the wrong era. With an eidetic memory and a towering intellect, she despairs of ever even being listened to, never mind taken seriously, by the stuffy men controlling the publication of Archaeologica, the premier historical publication of the Regency era… even though the pre-Roman dig she’s working on may be the most fascinating yet discovered in England to date. The arrival of Max, the new Earl of Rivenhall, and his immediate banishing of her from her precious site is absolutely the last straw, and Effie loses no time in telling Max exactly what she thinks of him.
Max is in no mood for company of any sort. Hiding out at his newly inherited country estate, he just wants to lick his wounds both physical and metaphorical. After suffering life-threatening burns which have left him severely scarred, losing his naval career and his fiancee all at once nearly destroyed him. He’d really like Effie to be gone, but she refuses to be intimidated and he can’t bring himself to physical action against her. Indeed, he finds himself reluctantly fascinated by a mind more brilliant than any he’s ever encountered, packaged in the body of an exceptionally pretty woman. He can’t understand how no man has snapped Effie up yet.
Max and Effie are fantastic in the way they play off and challenge each other. Max’s nicknames for Effie are both delightful and chart the progression of their relationship, as they go from insulting to affectionate. Her trust in him takes a long time to build, not always aided by his sister’s well-meaning meddling and definitely hindered by the aforementioned stuffy types, but eventually they find a place of mutual understanding.
This is a really great romance and, at the same time, a searing indictment of the way women were treated in the past. The flat refusal even to read Effie’s work, never mind consider the merits of it, was rage-inducing and the way Max reacted to it was just perfect. The tragedy is that you just KNOW there are male academics who still think this way - and behave this way, if they can get away with it. Overall I absolutely loved this and would highly recommend. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via Rachel’s Random Resources.