an earl by any other name, is set in the early twentieth century before the outbreak of world war i. it's a time in england where the age of high society is at a crossroads, the huge estates are no longer self-sustaining burdened as they are by death taxes, large staffs and maintenance costs.
leopold graham, lord hampton is in dire straits, his father's scandalous death has made associating with his family a questionable endeavor and he's got no way other than marriage to drum up enough money to cover the cost of running the estate in the future. he's dead set on marrying the very proper, very respectable, very boring mildred pepperwirth.
leopold's mother, mina, the dowager countess of hampton understands why her son is dead set on respectability and prudence. but she also knows that a marriage without passion would destroy his chance of happiness, happiness she knows would be within reach if he would open his heart to one miss ivy leighton.
ivy is a proper bluestocking. her unconventional upbringing has shaped her into a supporter of women's rights, especially women's suffrage. she has a special link to hampton's estate but out of deference to the dowager countess is keeping her identity a secret. she loved leo when she was a child, will she love him now that she is an adult?
from the moment they meet there is a flicker of connection. leo doesn't remember who ivy is immediately, but her presence reminds him of something he hadn't realized he lost. the more time he spends with her the more aware he is that he can't possibly go forward with his plan to marry mildred. maybe respectability isn't the only way forward. maybe he's been looking at everything all wrong. maybe ivy is the one person to set him straight.
if you enjoyed downton abbey, this novella will take you back to that era. for all leo's insistence on traditional ideas, he is actually more open-minded than he says he is. because even though being with ivy does change things for leo, the kind of about face he does has more to do with the fact that he was playing at being a stuffy traditionalist than actually being one. being with ivy taps into leo's true self, a self that he had hidden and tried to forget in order to ensure his estate's livelihood after his father's death. but there is more than one way forward, and when he finds ivy, he realizes this as truth.
**an earl by any other name will publish on august 1, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever yours) in exchange for my honest review.