Published by Forever of Hachette Book Group 
The suggested theme for this month's TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian is "recommended read." Most of the books on my shelves probably landed there because of reader recommendation, but I chose three that I recall being specifically recommended by fellow romance readers and asked you all to vote on which one I should read this month. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt won by an overwhelming margin, so that's the one I read for this month's challenge. It has been on my shelves for six years or so by now and finally made the move from the TBR shelf to the read shelf.
Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham, needs a new secretary--one who can tolerate his short temper and gruff demeanor. Family is important to him so he seeks a wife as he is the only one left in his family line and wants an heir.
Anna and Edward get off to a rough start after a brief encounter in the streets that leaves Anna nearly trampled by his horse and Edward on this bottom in the mud. She had no idea this rude aristocrat was the Earl and is then hired by the Earl's steward so imagine both of their surprise when they meet in his office days later. The Earl is surprised to see her again, yet the work she has been doing for him is up to par so he keeps her on. The two bicker often, but they soon come to enjoy the banter and each other's company. They talk, dine together and she even rides with him to take notes as they visit the farms in his earldom.
When Anna learns that the Earl is going to London to take care of his manly needs at a notorious brothel, Anna devises a plan to intercede and be the woman he encounters there-- in disguise, of course.
I honestly expected The Raven Prince to be a five star read since so many readers raved how much they looooved this book. I certainly enjoyed it, but not to the extent that I feel it merits such a stellar rating. Why? Well.. it was a good story with intelligent and likable characters and I was absolutely routing for the couple to get their happily ever after, but there were a few little things in the story that held it back from being an A read for me.
Anna is plain and prim, but outspoken to the Earl so this gets his attention as he's so used to people cowering from him and his pock-scarred face. So I suppose I can see that's the root of the Earl's attraction to Anna. However, I don't think Anna's attraction and affection towards the Earl was explored very well, other than the fact that he allowed, if not encouraged her, to do things that women were normally discouraged from doing, such as being knowledgeable about agriculture, riding horses and simply being a secretary! Although, maybe that's enough for a sex deprived widow in 1760 England.
I thought Anna's scheme to get into the brothel and pose as the Earl's intended prostitute a little bit unrealistic. Yes, it was a great idea, but it came together a little too easily and I have to wonder if it was something this prim widow really would have done? Would she really have gone to such daring measures after only knowing him for such a short time? I don't know if I was truly convinced that she was that attracted to him at that point. It was a fun scenario, nonetheless, and it certainly propelled the story in the desired direction, so I'm mostly letting it go as a major issue.
There are a few conflicts that stand in the way of Anna and Edward getting their happy ever after that I won't reveal because I wouldn't want to spoil anything for other readers, but in the end, things fell into place pretty quickly and easily without too much of a struggle. I suppose I was a tad disappointed at how things were wrapped up pretty neatly, but still--I enjoyed the story overall and plan to read the next two books in The Princes trilogy: The Leopard Prince and The Serpent Prince. I may as well--they're both on my TBR pile, too!
I gave The Raven Prince 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads.
You can visit author Elizabeth Hoyt at her website http://www.elizabethhoyt.com.
Next month's TBR Challenge theme is "Series Catch-Up!" I've got a lot to choose from!
In what series are you the farthest behind?