An heiress with a daring proposal. An earl who’s determined to resist her. And a love that just might be written in the stars… 

Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…

A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?

Titles in the Debutante Diaries include:  First Earl I See Tonight – The Duke Is But A Dream – 

Title:  First Earl I See Tonight
Series:  Debutante Diaries #1
Author:  Anna Bennett
Genre:  Historical – Regency Romance
Published:  October 30, 2018
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
My Rating:  4 stars

Cracking open the first book of a new series is always an exciting time for me.  I love the anticipation of discovering a new world, the possibility of new adventures, and meeting new characters.  I started Anna Bennett’s new series, Debutante Diaries, with high expectations – and I wasn’t disappointed.  We will come to meet sisters Fiona and Lily, along with their friend, Sophie as they set out in life with a rather intense beginning.

First Earl I See Tonight introduces Fiona, who is facing a very difficult family scandal should she not hand over money to a blackmailer.  She may be the daughter of a very wealthy man, even if their wealth comes from trade, but she has no immediate access to the funds demanded on her own.  Fiona will do anything to protect her family, even propose a marriage of convenience to a man who was once kind to her knowing that he is in desperate need of funds to refurbish his estates.  In Fiona’s mind she can pay off the blackmailer, give Gray the funds he needs to restore his grandmother’s once beautiful home and be done with it all… except blackmailers are never satisfied with their first demands, and her groom of choice is simply not co-operating as she expected him to.  And there’s that pesky attraction building between them that keeps getting in the way of her plans.  Fiona picked Gray for several reasons; he’d been kind to her, he desperately needed ready cash, and he’d been jilted so wasn’t looking for a love match.  So why then did she have to go and fall in love with the stubborn, cold hearted man?  That only made the blackmailer’s next demands even more despicable.

Gray had two loves in his life these days – his ailing grandmother, and his estate.  An estate that was practically falling down around them.  One that his former fiancée had sneered at, ended the engagement and ran away as fast as she could from.  So why on earth was one very wealthy, if admittedly clumsy young lady proposing a marriage of convenience?  Certainly he knew who Fiona was, remembered her with kindness, even for him, but when a woman asks for a man’s hand in marriage it tends to grab his attention… and his anger.  There was something else going on here, so Gray called her bluff by inviting her entire family to stay at his estate determined to scare the little forward miss off as quickly as possible.  Only he didn’t count on her stubbornness, her courage or the attraction that was building between them.  Suddenly discovering Fiona’s secrets became his top priority since her happiness was his primary goal now.  He didn’t count on falling in love, but he would get to the bottom of this puzzle.

I enjoyed First Earl I See Tonight very much.  The story captured my attention, the characters were realistic and believable (even under the circumstances) and I wanted to know more about this couple’s future as well as Lily and Sophie’s stories down the line.  Yet as much as I enjoyed Gray and Fiona’s romance there were things that didn’t make sense within that time period, and to be frank, those little details bothered me throughout this story.  I’m not going to nitpick, it’s not my story to tell… but sometimes little details will take me out of a story and that is always annoying to me.  Inconsistencies aside, I will definitely follow this series for my curiosity is now high and I want to know what happens next.  If you love a good Historical or Regency Romance with likable characters, interesting plots and secondary characters you’ll want to learn more about then First Earl I See Tonight is perfect for you.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available for the Kindle