ARC Review: The Earl of Excess by Anna St. Claire

About the Book:

Title: The Earl of Excess

Author: Anna St. Clair

Series: The Rakes of Mayhem #1

Publication Date: Aug. 5, 2021

Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing

Synopsis: A British officer’s life is saved when a young woman and her dog risk their lives and rescue him from beneath dead bodies, while trying to escape the New Orleans battlefield before shooting begins.

Welcome to book 1 in the new Rakes of Mayhem series from bestselling author Anna St. Claire!

Colonel Matthew Romney, a favored son with the British military, is gravely wounded during the Battle of New Orleans. With most available British forces dead and his weak pleas for help muffled beneath the dead soldier he lies below, the British report him missing in the aftermath.

Bethany Phillips and her dog visit the Villeré Plantation’s gardens searching for herbs and food and unexpectedly become caught in the crossfire of grapeshot and cannon fire and forced to take cover until the battle ends. When the smoke clears, Bethany follows the sound of a man’s moans and pulls him from beneath a pile of dead soldiers being readied for a mass grave. Bethany saves Matthew’s life but, in doing so, threatens her heart and her own life.

Against all odds, sparks fly between Matthew and Bethany. A hired investigator for his father finds Matthew and encourages him to journey home. Matthew and Bethany leave the safety of her home and travel a dangerous path through the wilderness of America and across a ravaged, war-torn ocean to reach his family.

Can their romance survive the dangers and uncertainty that follow them?

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon   

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My Review:

The Earl of Excess is the first book in The Rakes of Mayhem, a new historical romance series by Anna St. Claire. The story begins when Bethany saves the life of a British soldier, an act punishable by death should she be caught. Bethany cares for Matthew for weeks, diligently nursing him back to health. However, when it appears that someone might know of Matthew’s location, Bethany decides to take him to her aunt and grandmother. Not fully healed and blinded in battle, Matthew can’t deny his growing feelings for Bethany. But can he convince her that his feelings are true? And will he ever be able to return home?

This is an interesting historical romance that takes place in war-torn Louisiana. Rich with culture and history, the story offers a unique outlook on life at that time. Matthew is a British soldier, and Bethany is a citizen of Louisiana, so their experiences are quite different. It’s interesting to get both perspectives throughout the story. I also really liked the integration of customs, landscapes, culture, and cuisines of the time. It was fascinating to read about the different foods and traditions, as well as the varied opinions about the war.

Bethany is a great protagonist, as is Matthew. Bethany is independent, brave, and strong, and she has a generous and selfless spirit. She is her own person, and she defies the norms of her time. Matthew is a long way from home, and he goes through so much! Honorable, dependable, and adaptable, Matthew shows strength and sincerity in all that he does. They make a great pair, and their chemistry is strong from the start. Though they begin as strangers, they quickly become friends, which leads to more. The way that they care for, protect, and support each other is wonderful.

I always love animal companions in books, and Bethany’s dog, Dandie is delightful! She’s an adorable dog that’s also a great judge of character. She’s also super intuitive and seems to understand more than one would expect of a canine friend. I also really enjoyed Bethany’s grandmother and aunt. They are women ahead of their time, and the wisdom, understanding, and acceptance they show are admirable. They, as well as several other minor characters in the story, are well-developed and interesting.

The plot is well-paced and filled with action and adventure, and there is never a dull moment in the story. Between the battle, the treacherous trip to Bethany’s grandmother, and their experiences once they reach their destination, Bethany and Matthew don’t experience a moment’s peace. Even their journey after leaving Bethany’s grandmother is riddled with obstacles and perilous situations. I do wish the end didn’t feel so rushed, as their story in the epilogue sounds as exciting and adventure-filled as the rest of the novel. It almost felt like it could be made into its own novel.

Readers who enjoy entertaining and engrossing historical romances with great side characters and a sweet love story will enjoy The Earl of Excess. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Dragonblade Publishing, and Anna St. Clair for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • Dandie! Such a smart and intuitive dog!
  • The action.

Favorite Line:

War and fear do odd things to men.


This is a entertaining story for readers who like historical romances that take place in the USA.

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