Book Review: Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett

About the Book:

Title: Girls Before Earls

Author: Anna Bennett

Series: Rogues to Lovers #1

Page Length: 320

Publication Date: Dec. 28, 2021

Publisher: St, Martin’s Paperbacks


To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.


Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.


When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon    |    

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links.

My Review:

Girls Before Earls is an entertaining and layered historical romance with great messages about family, grief, society, and love. Miss Hazel Lively is a strong, independent woman who has devoted her life to helping young girls. Adamant that all girls, regardless of social class, deserve the same opportunities, Hazel opens a school to girls of all social stations. A lover of books and learning, Hazel is determined to make her school a success, and when the Earl of Bladenton enrolls his niece, it seems her prospects are looking up. However, Blade’s niece Kitty is a handful, and Hazel’s feelings for Blade are less than professional.

Blade doesn’t believe in love. Determined to enter a marriage of convenience, Blade intends to leave Kitty in Hazel’s capable hands so that he can ensure his engagement to a woman of the ton. However, when Hazel makes his involvement in Kitty’s life part of their arrangement, Blade finds himself returning to Bellhaven Academy to visit Kitty and developing feelings for the proper and intelligent headmistress.

Though very different, Hazel and Blade both keep people at a distance. For different reasons, neither let anyone get too close, and neither are looking for love. Hazel is committed to her school, and Blade has been burned by love in the past, which swore him off love forever. On top of that, they are from different social classes, they live in different places, and they have different goals. However, this couple has explosive chemistry from their first meeting, and their feelings are undeniable (as much as they try to deny them!). Theirs is a case of opposites attract, and these opposites have an amazing connection. Their budding relationship is equal parts sweet, romantic, fun, angst-filled, and sensual.

I love the found family aspect of the story and how Hazel connects with other motherless women. She, Poppy ( local woman), and Kitty all lost their mothers at a young age, and this creates a bond between them. They relate to each other and understand each other because they are all motherless daughters. At one point in the story, Poppy asks if the other’s ever wonder how different their lives would be if their mothers were still alive. I found this scene really powerful and relatable. I lost my mother eleven years ago, and I often wonder how my life would be different if she were still here. The author does a wonderful job of showing how the loss of a beloved parent changes a person, and the character’s thoughts about grief and loss are relatable, realistic, and powerful. I also love that Kitty, Poppy, and Hazel find support in each other and form their own family or sisterhood.

I also love how Blade and Kitty grow closer as the story progresses. At the beginning of the novel, Kitty and Blade barely know each other. Estranged from Kitty’s parents, Blade is stunned to learn that he was chosen to care for her, and he struggles to connect with his difficult niece. However, with Hazel’s help, Kitty and Blade begin to develop a bond and a mutual regard for each other. This relationship changes both of them for the better.

Girls Before Earls (I love that title!) is an entertaining, romantic, and sweet story with great characters, a beautiful seaside setting, and wonderful messages. The story examines some thought-provoking topics, including the unfair expectations put on different social classes, the consequences of loss and betrayal, the importance of honor and reputation, and the difficulties of being a woman during this time period. I wholly recommend this book to lovers of historical romance and am excited to read the next book in the Rogues to Lovers series. Thanks so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, and Anna Bennett for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • The found family.
  • The messages.

Favorite Lines:

Every girl is extraordinary and has the potential to flourish if given a chance.

Strength of character demands that one does the right thing – regardless of the circumstance or setting.

Love was combustible – a grenade that inevitably resulted in betrayal, pain, and loss. He’d be damned if he pulled that pin again.

There is a fine line between serendipity and stupidity.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett

  1. Great review, Julie! The title already had me sold but I’m even more eager to read this after reading your review! The found family trope in this one sounds really heartwarming and sweet.

Leave a Reply