The Earl’s Secret – The MacLerie Clan #4 – Terri Brisbin

The Earl’s Secret (The MacLerie Clan Book 4)

What? Where did this one come from? How does it fit into The MacLerie Clan series? This one came out of left field and I couldn’t figure out why it was included in the series. It was a good book and I really enjoyed it once I got over the shock of how different it was from the previous three books but I still don’t know if it should have been included in the series.

Everything was different about it, the tone, the setting and even the century it was set in. At first, I thought I had downloaded the wrong book. I did this several times, checking the title, series and author just to make sure that I was reading the 4th book of The MacLerie Clan series. I actually did this several times. It just felt so different from the rest of the series. Instead of the rough Highlander feel, it had a snobbish English feel to it. It was set in Edinburg and London in the 1800s instead of the Highlands in the 1300s like the previous books.

A MacLerie wasn’t even mentioned until I was about a quarter of the way through it and then it was just a friend’s husband who was the MacLerie.

Despite the strangeness of this book being part of the series, I enjoyed it. I just had to get used to it.

Anna Fairchild is what people called a ‘bluestocking’, an intellectual or literary woman. That and the fact that she advocates for social reform puts her on the edge of acceptable behavior for a lady in society. If people learned that she was the owner of the Scottish Monthly Gazette instead of her friend, Nathaniel who pretends to be its owner, she would be ruined. It just was not acceptable for a woman to own or run a business. Acceptable behavior is for women to organize parties and balls and to look for a suitable marriage. Anna has no intention on marrying. She likes to be her own woman and a husband would take that freedom away from her.

Her magazine has been doing well and is picking up subscriptions and advertisers due to a certain essay against the Torie party written by A.J. Goodfellow who advocates for social reform. It’s a sort of debate written and published in two separate magazines or newspapers. The Torie party’s essay being written by David Lansdale, the Earl of Treybourne in a London magazine while the reformer’s essays and replies are written anonymously with the writer going by the name of A.J. Goodfellow. Anna is really A.J. Goodfellow and the only person who knows this is her friend Nathaniel.

David Lansdale is hard-pressed to find a solution to the escalation of the war on words going on between A.J. Goodfellow and himself when his father, the Marquees of Dursby who thinks A.J. Goodfellow is making him and the party look bad, threatens to cut off his salary unless he does something about it. He depends on the money from his father for personal reasons and has only agreed to write the essays even though he does not really believe in what the Tories stands for and he only has to get through this year before he gets his inheritance from his grandfather when he turns thirty. He knows the owner of the Scotland Monthly Gazette, Nathaniel Hobbs-Smith, from his university years and decides to go to Edinburg under the assumed name David Archer to try to find out who A.J. Goodfellow is.

Of course, Nathaniel knows his true identity but keeps it a secret from everyone else including Anna because he knows if David’s father becomes involved, he wouldn’t think twice to crush the magazine and the people who work for it.

Anna and David get to know each other and start to fall in love but there are too many secrets between them and if and when they are discovered, neither of them will be able to forgive the other…so they believe. Plus, David is an earl so Anna would not be a suitable wife for him according to the rules of society.

Anna said it best, “Oh what a tangled web we weave!” and I would have to agree. It was quite the mess and I got caught up in it, rooting for the couple who I truly believed would not make it. I know it is a romance novel but I thought maybe this one would end on a sad note. Since it was so different from the others in the series, I thought maybe this was some kind of lesson or something. I just didn’t know.

Maybe this is the start of some sort of spin-off series. I could get into it that is what it is. I’m still baffled as to where this book fits into the series. I’ve looked at the next book and it is back in the 1300s so I’m at a loss.

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