Title: Romancing the Earl
Series: Regency Treasure Hunters #2
Author: Darcy Burke
Format: eBook, 279 pages
Published: April 21, 2015 by Intrepid Reads
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Major Elijah Hollister never wanted to be an earl, particularly not when it meant losing his brother. When a bold adventuress shows up at his door seeking a treasure map, Elijah suspects his brother’s death may not have been accidental and that the lady knows more than she’s willing to share. Whether she’s a friend or foe, Elijah plans to keep her close—and hope the temptation of her kisses doesn’t ruin them both.
Miss Catriona Bowen can almost taste the fruits of her years-long quest to find one of Britain’s greatest treasures. The discovery will deliver the recognition and respect she deserves as an antiquary, despite the fact that she’s a woman. However, to find the map that will lead her to success, she must ally herself with a stoic, yet provocative gentleman with a different goal. And when a villain threatens their lives, she realizes too late that love is the greatest treasure of all.
Cate's parents raised her to follow in their adventurous antique hunting footsteps. With her sidekick lady's maid Grey, she is currently on the hunt for Dyrnwyn, a legendary flaming sword that is one of the 13 Arthurian treasures. Finding this sword will not only be a significant archeological find but legitimize her in the heavily dominant male artifact hunting world. Elijah is a former Captain who has come back to England from Australia because his older brother died and he is now the Earl. He has a tapestry that Cate thinks is really a map that will lead her to Dyrnwyn. Others in search of the sword think the same thing and Elijah starts to sense that maybe his brother's death wasn't so accidental after all. Cate and Elijah pair up as he searches out his brother's killer and Cate looks for the sword. They dodge and fight miscreants as they stumble upon another hidden treasure, love.
Romancing the Earl is second in the series in which Cate's parents starred in the first (The de Valery Code). There are a couple little nuggets of information you would miss out on if you didn't read the previous book involving the Arthurian treasures storyline but this is a solid book on its own. This is a road romance where our couple is constantly traveling the road but it does take a while for things to start rolling. The beginning is a little slower with the focus on explaining the Arthurian treasures and their legend. Through Cate and Elijah separately we learn about the different players in the game and the adventure side of the story unfolds first. It was about 30% in that I felt like things started to get rolling and I felt more engaged.
Cate is definitely a woman ahead of her time, she doesn't want to get married and feels she should be accepted the same as any man in the archeological field. Her parent's attitude and how they raised her give legitimacy to her feelings but the way she gallivants around the countryside with only her maid in tow and then alone with Elijah seem a bit farfetched for the times. Her sexual freedom attitude was, while fun to read in regards to how it teased Elijah, again, a bit modern. I did like her character as Cate was very analytical but also softly emotional that made her enjoyable to follow along and read. Elijah was more of a man of his time, with his back getting up a couple times with how Cate acted. He accepted and obviously fancied Cate's more liberal attitude but would try to temper her more radical leadings if they would put her in danger, whether physically or reputation wise. The little side anecdotes of him missing his horse in Australia and how he never felt loved by his mother gave him a more rounded out feeling. He's not a character that will jump off the pages but he felt real.
These two characters fit very well together, I believed in their relationship. I adored how Cate would occasionally shock Elijah off balance and leave him teetering. In the beginning, when they were first starting to let their eyes linger on one another, they also had a wonderful sharp tension that sent tingles up the spine. Their bedroom scenes were appealing sensual, they were filled with real emotion and sexual warmth. Their relationship was just at times smothered a bit by the treasure hunt. There is also a secondary romance between Cate's companion Grey and Elijah's companion Wade but it's enough of a side story that I never felt too invested in it.
Overall, I felt like the adventure and romance arcs didn't quite mesh in the beginning and it bogged the pace down some. Everything doesn't quite jump off the pages but it's still a pleasing story with pleasing characters. Future hero characters were introduced and I plan on continuing to read because I'm interested enough to see what other cupid havoc the rest of the Arthurian treasures can cause.