Earls Just Want to Have Fun
Book 1 in the Covent Garden Cubs series
by Shana Galen
Narrated by Beverley A. Crick
Tantor Audio Jul 7, 2015
Running time 10 hrs
Also available as Mass-Market Paperback and in e-book formats from: Sourcebooks Casablanca (February 3, 2015) |384 pages
Audio Book provided by Tantor Audio for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own unless otherwise noted.
A master thief…
Marlowe runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of Seven Dials. It’s a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she’s alone, she allows herself to remember a forbidden time and name.
A lord suffering from ennui…
Maxwell, Lord Dane, is bored with the same balls, the same debutantes, and the same demands from his mother. When an investigator locates the lost daughter of the Marquess of Lyndon, Dane is intrigued. He agrees to introduce the girl to Society and assist in tutoring her in etiquette, but the lady is a less than agreeable pupil.
Descent into a criminal underworld…
Marlowe knows she’ll never escape the Covent Garden Cubs. She’s not safe, even among the diamonds and silks gracing the new King’s ballroom. Satin, the gang’s leader, plans a major racket and needs Marlowe’s talents to succeed. When Dane stands in Satin’s way, the earl enters a world of danger and violence, where the student has become the teacher and love is the greatest danger of all. http://www.shanagalen.com/earls-just-want-to-have-fun.php
Shana Galen presents us with a powerful heroine: headstrong, tough, vital, fit and beautiful, with a London street tough accent!
Marlowe is a conundrum for herself, the earl, and for society at large. Having been abducted as a child but brought up to believe she had been abandoned, Marlowe buried all her childhood memories of a mother, a father, and a nanny. The emotions and memories have been so deeply repressed that it almost makes her ill to experience them.
When the earl’s brother pushes her back into the bosom of society, she faces the thought that she doesn’t belong anywhere: if she is an aristocrat by birth she won’t be able to bear the ghetto where she lived her whole life, and even if she is how can society ever accept her? Will she be strong enough?
She’s awfully brave; willing to sacrifice herself for her friends.
There’s certainly a funny side to the story in the form of stuffy society matrons who are affronted by Marlowe’s mere presence outside of her slum, through the “No Sex Please, We’re British” style bedroom shenanigans. And there are moments of kindness and friendship, for example when the earl’s sister meets Marlowe and even with her fellow gang member.
But what struck me most in the story was its humanity, and its portrayal of the bleakness of life in the 19th century London slum known as Seven Dials (http://www.sevendials.co.uk/history). And how one’s eyes can be opened even when his or her beliefs are in opposition to something. The earl is as stuffy an aristircrat as there ever was, and like many wealthy at the time (and in every time) he believed the poor had landed themselves in poverty through their own devices: bad decisions, laziness, stupidity. Acts were passed to stop helping the poor which would make them stand on their own two feet. In this book the earl is one those who believe the poor have gotten themselves into their predicament and they can jolly well get themselves out.
It takes knowing someone outside his class, and the lost child device to make him see that person, Marlowe as a real person and not a socioeconomic status. At one point in the beginning he states to his mother that she isn’t a real person. Having to accept the possibility that she actually is one of his class, he has to accept that birth is not a predictor of character and that the poor do not deserve the conditions in which they live.
It was also interesting how changes happen in Marlowe’s heart and mind — how she gains a sense of self-worth and is affected by goodness and generosity.
There are a lot of fairy tale themes here: being awakened, at least morally, with a kiss, Cinderella and My Fair Lady themes of physical and then behavioral alteration, Prince and the Pauper, etc.
There are some sex-scenes I did not find particularly appealing because it felt as if the earl was still failing to treat Marlowe as he would have treated any other woman of his social station. In this way he acts outside the societal norms by which he has lived, and thus proves the point in the reverse. I also felt they were a little illogically placed.
The ending is heartwarming, lovely and while it didn’t make me cry, it was close.
The narrator does a good job with the accents, and in particular with Marlowe’s “put on” accent when she mocks aristocrats.
Funny, steamy, touching, with some serious moments, and even some cute ones, I enjoyed and would recommend EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN by Shana Galen.