Girls Before Earls

St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Rogues to Lovers, Bk. 1). Dec. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781250793911. pap. $8.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
A new historical series from Bennett (“Debutante Diaries”). As headmistress of Bellehaven Academy, Hazel Lively’s strategy is to attract wealthy students with propriety and reputation, using the income to educate less privileged girls alongside them. When the desperate Earl of Bladenton brings his newly orphaned niece to Bellehaven, Hazel sees an opportunity but will only accept the earl’s niece on one condition: he must visit her every other week. As Earl Blade and Hazel come to know each other, they move from flirtation to an understanding of what lies beneath the surface of the proper headmistress and the dutiful nobleman, but Hazel’s need to protect her students and Blade’s need to protect his heart could keep them from finding happiness.
VERDICT Some may find the conflict too-easily overcome, but fans of light historical romance with a progressive air will find much to recommend in this series opener.
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