The Earl and The Enchantress

Paullett Golden
The Earl and The Enchantress
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Paullett Golden
Release Date
November 2018
Book 1 of The Enchantresses
Historical Romance

Not all scars can be healed with a kiss.

Sebastian Lancaster, Earl of Roddam, harbors a family secret so dark he has forsaken marriage to hide the past. When fate introduces him to Lizbeth, he believes he has met his perfect match—a woman with whom he can share passion without commitment.

Lizbeth Trethow risks everything to follow her heart until Sebastian's past returns to haunt them. Desperate to hide the blood on his hands, he sabotages their happiness. Everything depends on Lizbeth unraveling the truth and turning this villain into a hero.

This is the love story of Lizbeth and Sebastian as they battle metaphoric ghosts born of murder and enlightenment to be together.

Book Review by Blue (reviewer)
Feb 23, 2019   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
186 people found the following review helpful
Lizbeth Trethow lost her mother at age seven, and from that tender age started taking on the responsibilities of running her father's household and caring for her baby sister, Charlotte. Now after several seasons, and watching how her friends' marriages have turned out, she's decided that wedded bliss is not for her. She has no desire to become a man's property and only a strong love from an exceptional man will change her mind. While sneaking away from yet another ball for a few moment's peace in the library, Liz encounters a most unusual man.

Sebastian Lancaster, Earl of Roddam, has also escaped to the library, only to have his solitude disturbed by a beautiful young woman. Roddam's plans don't include marriage, so he has no desire to be found alone with a young lady. He's somewhat abrupt with Liz, though he finds her choice of reading material and her conversation fascinating. Rather than the typical single lady who bats her eyelashes and flirts with him, Liz has intelligent conversation and a sharp wit. They both enjoy their brief encounter, then Liz prudently leaves, and they don't expect to encounter each other again.

Sebastian usually stays on his remote estate, not venturing to town, but he agreed to assist his cousin, the Duke of Annick, in finding a bride. Annick's search has led him to Liz and Charlotte, and it seems that fate has decided to put Sebastian and Liz in each other's path again. As they spend time together over the short time left in the season, their physical and intellectual attraction grows. Liz, for the first time, is willing to take a chance, and does all she can to let Sebastian know how she feels, while still staying within the bounds of propriety. Though Sebastian is clearly interested, he makes no declaration, and the season ends with each of them going off to their homes far away from each other.

Sebastian regrets his treatment of Liz, and though it's not the proper thing to do, he writes to her. Surprisingly, she can't resist writing back, though she had made up her mind to forget him. Their letters become friendlier and more intimate. Liz has an opportunity to visit Sebastian's part of the country, when her sister, who has since married Annick, urgently summons Liz to visit her. Liz and Sebastian meet and become even closer, yet it seems that he can't bring himself to propose. A defeated Liz is once again prepared to forget him, this time for good, but as the time approaches for Liz to return home, Sebastian finally proposes. They marry quickly, but this does not turn into their happy ever after.

Sebastian has his demons, no doubt, and is truly a tortured man. Tragedies from his childhood wrack him with guilt, give him nightmares, and cause him to doubt himself. After a passionate honeymoon, where Sebastian felt at peace, his insecurities return, causing him to jeopardize his new marriage. While I truly did like Sebastian, his waffling behavior was truly maddening. His drawing of Liz close, then pushing her away was so frustrating, as was his refusal to fully discuss what made him this way.

Liz is one of the strongest heroines you'll encounter. Though confronted time and again by Sebastian's confusing behavior, she never falters in her commitment to him. I feel that she went well beyond what a typical spouse would do. She's not put off by Sebastian's scars, physical or mental, and is determined to do whatever is necessary to save her marriage. I adored this woman!

THE EARL AND THE ENCHANTRESS is extremely well written for a debut novel. There are some truly romantic moments, such as this one:
"He had begged for the night never to end, or else for the world to end in that moment so he would know nothing but the moment itself, the feeling of elation, the uncomplicated attraction of two people perfect for each other."

I love that Sebastian finally finds strength within himself to face his demons, and to move forward. He has a fun, sexy and playful side that had been buried due to the burdens he carried.

The second half of THE EARL AND THE ENCHANTRESS seemed to flow much easier to me, and the pacing really picked up and held my interest. There is plenty of passion, heartbreak, doubt, romance and some interesting, well developed secondary characters. Readers who enjoy a character driven romance will find this a story well worth reading. Paullett Golden is an author I will be following.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on January 2019
Interview by Laura

Welcome, Paullett, to The Romance Reviews!

Q: Where did you get your inspiration for THE EARL AND THE ENCHANTRESS?

When I craft a story, I'm inspired by a combination of factors, ranging from the setting to the research. This story was character-driven from start to finish. Lizbeth and Sebastian needed a story, so I let them tell it. I was surprised along the way with decisions they made and twists in the story that I didn't see coming, which might seem a bit odd when I was the one writing the story! When working with characters who have their own personalities and motivations, the writer isn't the one controlling the tale--the characters are. The inspiration for this story began with those two characters.

Generally speaking, I'm inspired by the people I meet. It might be in a queue that I meet someone who needs a love story or a starring role. I find inspiration everywhere I go. Sometimes it's a personality trait, sometimes it's the conflict they're struggling with in their own life, and sometimes it's what they've overcome that needs to be shared with the world, even if it's fictionalized. The people I meet every day are heroes and heroines. I want to know the story of the girl sitting in the corner wearing the tatty dress or the man with a limp who gardens every Sunday at the same time every week. I want to know their stories, and so I write them.

With THE EARL AND THE ENCHANTRESS, especially, I wanted an internal conflict that must be internally resolved. So often in our lives we think the conflict is outside of us, that we need a person or event to change the direction of life for us, when really, it's what's inside that must change by adopting a different mindset, seeing a different perspective, or choosing a different path.

Q: What draws you to write historical romance?

I love a good fairy tale! I especially love the unexpected romance when it doesn't seem there could possibly be a happily ever after, and then somehow it works out, as if by magic.

I do believe there's not a single moment that defines the happily ever after; for instance, the wedding bells ring, and we know in that moment they'll live happily ever after, or the hero proposes, and we think by that proposal, all conflicts are pushed aside. I don't buy that. I believe happily ever after is when we reach a point where we know we can resolve any conflict together.

When I finish reading a romance, I want to know the two characters will be able to tackle anything that comes their way. Despite the happy ending, I know, realistically, there will be disagreements and misunderstandings in the future, but I want to close the book knowing the two characters have established a strong enough foundation and an efficient enough method of communication, that no disagreement is insurmountable.

To me, seeing this, knowing this, gives us hope. I don't want the completely unrealistic tale. I want the tale that shows us there's hope for every marriage, every spinster or bachelor, every person who has ever felt broken or hopeless. I want to know we can all craft our own happily ever after.

Q: Please tell us more about heroine Lizbeth Trethow.

Lizbeth is that part of us that is misunderstood and eager to be known.

She thirsts for knowledge and has a rational and keen mind. She longs for enriching conversation. Above all, she wants to be seen for who she is.

Her life has been devoted to taking care of others and putting everyone else ahead of herself because she wants everyone to be happy, yet never has anyone seen who she is beneath the smile or behind the book.

When we first meet her, we see her in full defense. We see her at her weakest. The claws come out, so to speak. For so long, she's been so pigeonholed and misunderstood that she remains on the defense, waiting for that moment when someone will mock her, expecting everyone to see her as a bookish nobody.

When she meets Sebastian, there's an immediate attraction, a magnetic passion, if you will, because he doesn't treat her as a mindless woman or a hobby reader. He goads her, yes, but also engages her in the kind of conversation she's longed to have for years.

She's never had an interest in romance because, frankly, why would she? There's nothing remotely attractive about men who want any warm body and would never understand her, much less respect her. They'd see her reading as a hobby, if they even allowed her to read. They'd say, "Yes, dear" and "No, dear" without hearing a word she said. She meets Sebastian and for the first time, someone is speaking to her as if she has a brain. She's on fire from their first conversation!

There's a lot to unpack with Lizbeth, but I like to think of her as any underrepresented part of ourselves that has always wanted to be seen but never seems to be recognized, not even be loved ones.

Q: She sounds very interesting! What about Sebastian Lancaster, Earl of Roddam? How is he a swoonworthy hero?

Personally, I find Sebastian swoonworthy because he respects the heroine. It isn't solely that he appreciates she's well-read and intelligent, but that he genuinely values her perspective and opinion.

He falls for her because of her bookish traits, not despite them. He doesn't see her as a hobby reader, but as a truly intelligent person. Some men might think, "Ok, so she enjoys reading. I guess I can live with that." Sebastian, on the other hand, sees this as who she is and recognizes her as an equal in every possible way.

After being mansplained to for most of my life, I find Sebastian to be incredibly swoonworthy. He loves the heroine for her intelligence and respects her views. He craves good conversation with her and finds her better company than most people he knows, including other men.

His rugged good looks certainly help, of course, if you like dark features and aristocratic Roman noses. There are other aspects I admire about him, as well, but how he views the heroine is the top swoonworthy characteristic that trumps all else for me.

I'm sure readers will find other qualities to love, and that's really my aim--each reader should find in the characters something they can relate to, no matter how subtle. I have my own ideas of what makes these characters dreamy, but that may not be the same for everyone.

I value his appreciation for Lizbeth. She's his equal, and to me, that's as sexy of a man as you can get.

Q: He certainly sounds swoonworthy to me! What is their first meeting like?

Electric. Contentious. Life changing.

They don't have lust at first sight because neither of them is interested in romance of any kind. (And who could blame them after being so misunderstood by society?)

They're both defensive in this first meeting. They've sought shelter from the crowd, eager to be alone, and they're caught off guard by each other's presence. He's a bit rude to her, hoping to scare her off, and she's likewise a bit rude to him, tired of being overshadowed by the men her family were throwing at her. In their conversation, they discover something unsettling—they're not alone in this world, and there's someone out there who might be able to understand them.

By the end of the conversation, they're emotionally and physically exhilarated. They've had a real conversation wherein they've shared honest opinions in an attempt to put off the other only to discover they're stimulated by the exchange rather than put off. The attraction is intense and addictive. They each want more. They've just shown a piece of themselves that normally wards off everyone else, yet the other person wasn't put off by it, rather responded to it. It's an incredibly powerful moment for them.

Neither are sure what to make of it, but they know they want to see each other again. They want another opportunity to be themselves, something they've never been, or at least never been accepted as being.

Q: What makes them perfect for each other?

I think there are a few pieces to this puzzle that fit together to make a perfect match.

One piece is mutual respect. They get to know each other on a much deeper level than most couples would have at the time. Although their opinions differ throughout the book, they respect each other's opinions and long to share conversations about those opinions. That respect is part of what makes them perfect. Neither has been respected by anyone until meeting each other. They don't agree with each other for the sake of getting along. They don't agree to disagree just to get along. They don't try to change each other's minds. Instead, they recognize that each other is intelligent and has a well thought-out and rationalized viewpoint, albeit informed by different experiences.

Their personalities certainly mesh well. They're both unconventional and definitely both introverts. Neither cares what society thinks nor wants to be part of society. In this way, they share similar lifestyles. Not that opposites don't attract, but in this case, they are more alike than different and will likely always agree with what they're going to do over the weekend.

Sebastian finds in her someone who is willing to take the time to understand him. He doesn't know how to express himself, has more insecurities than confidences, and has a bleak past that he can't make sense of. She's probably the only person who would be patient enough and understanding enough to empathize with him. She realizes his weaknesses and is persistent to find her way in to help him. She is the perfect person he needs, as any other woman would likely throw up her hands and walk out. She's perfect for him.

Lizbeth finds in him someone who values her and treats her as an equal. Though his tendencies to crawl inward rather than reach out when he's depressed frustrate her because she feels shut out, she knows he respects her and sees her for who she really is, something no other man has ever shown her. He's perfect for her.

Q: What for you is a romantic moment between them?

Hmm. Tough one! What constitutes a romantic moment differs for so many people that it's difficult to choose.

For me, personally, I find this glimpse from their honeymoon to be incredibly romantic, though it only depicts what most people might see as a typical domestic morning. I think it's romantic between them because this is a moment neither thought they would ever share, a moment when all conflicts have been, for a time, forgotten, and a moment when they're at total ease with each other. They have quite a few tense moments together in the book, and in this moment, they are at such complete harmony, I think it's utterly romantic.

Here's a glimpse:

Sebastian pirouetted into the room, a tray balancing in his hands, a bare foot reaching back to close the door.

"That wasn't as graceful or as stealthy as I had planned." He wore nothing but breeches and a smile, his mane free flowing around his shoulders.

He stacked pillows in front of her for a makeshift table and set down the tray. Two plates piled with breakfast treats, two cups of coffee, a pot of tea in a knit tea cozy, and a vase of wildflowers perched on the tray.

"You're spoiling me." She sniffed her plate, filled with more smoked herring, sausage, bacon, eggs, butter, honey, marmalade, jam, and rolls than she could ever eat. "Ooh, where did you get these flowers?"

"I picked them from the grounds, of course. I couldn't bear to wake you, so I snuck away for a stroll and stole nature's bounty." He waved his hand at the buffet. "Breakfast in bed again today. But, I must be the bearer of sad tidings. Cook insists we eat in a more civilized manner from this point forward. I normally eat in the morning room where Gerald sets up a table for my grazing, so back to usual, I suppose. Ah, and Cook requests your assistance in planning meals. She'll ensure the table is filled with your favorite delights."

He kissed her forehead before crawling into bed beside her.

"Oh, no you don't!" She scolded, trying to push him off.

"What is this abuse? You don't want to break your fast with your husband? Shall I eat on the floor?" He affected a wounded expression as he slid off the bed and onto the floor, peering at her over the side of the bed sheet.

"No clothes! I refuse to be the only one eating naked. Off with them!" She glowered at his breeches.

"You're a vixen of the first degree." He stood, undressed, and climbed into bed, joining her under the covers. "Who am I to argue with the lady of the castle?"

They had spent every hour since the wedding night hiding in the bedchamber. She had not seen the wedding guests since the ceremony, nor had she seen any of the servants. Gerald, the butler, brought food trays when called, but otherwise they had been left in peace to explore each other, converse, and solve the mysteries of the modern world.

"Are you sure you don't want a honeymoon abroad? Maybe a tour of Italy?" he asked as they ate.

"I wouldn't trade breakfast in bed for Italy if you asked a hundred times." She ran the palm of her hand across the thickening stubble on his face. "There is something I do want, though. Desperately."

"If it is the moon, it might take time to craft a rope long enough, but, alas, I will try if it is your wish." He winked and sipped the coffee.

"Tempting, but no. You're off the hook on roping the moon. What I really want is a bath. A hot bath. And you, my lord, need a shave."

"I knew something was amiss. Gerald wrinkled his nose and turned his head when I went down today for the breakfast trays. I must smell like sweat and sex. Mmmm." He moaned, nuzzling his face into her hair. "If I smell anything like you, that is."

She pinched his arm. "That's disgusting! No wonder no one wanted to marry you if you say such vulgar things."

Q: Which character is the hardest to write? Why?

At first, Drake was the most difficult. He is the quintessential alpha male, the rake we see as the hero of so many historical romances. I favour beta heroes and antiheroes, personally, so I found him quite the challenge. That was before I got to know him. When I first started writing him, although he was only a secondary character with not that large of a role, I snarled every time he entered the room.

He was everything I dislike in a typical alpha hero. While he longed to monopolize a scene, all I wanted to do was make him trip on a floor board. (Don't think I didn't do it a few times just to give myself a laugh.) We finally had a heart-to-heart chat, gloves off, masks off, so I could get to know the man beneath the pomade. I needed to know what made him tick so I could write him without hissing. Once I got to know him, I said, "Wow. Ok. So instead of killing you off in Book 2, I'm going to give you a starring role." He earned his role as a hero. Once I understood him, writing him as a secondary character couldn't have been more fun!

Now, if you mean which character between Liz and Sebastian was the most difficult, I'd have to say Lizbeth. Sebastian wrote himself. Lizbeth was a little more of a struggle at times because I knew what I would do as a woman in the situation. But I wasn't writing about me in a situation. I was writing what Liz would do. There were a few woman-to-woman battles where I would give her sound advice, and she'd reject it. I wanted to shake her a few times, but alas, she's an opinionated woman who had to make her own choices.

Q: What kind of research did you have to do to write this book? Please share an interesting fact or unique behind the scenes experience.

A good bit of my research came from my coursework in Arthurian legends during my doctoral studies. Just to make clear, such studies were elective fun, not officially part of my doctoral degree. Part of the coursework included touring all the locations affiliated in some way with the legend, history, and literature of King Arthur. Ronald Hutton of University of Bristol held a masterclass as part of my studies that I was thankfully able to attend, and it was quite an enriching experience.

I also did a good bit of research into manic depression, especially symptoms of those diagnosed as bipolar and the daily life of those with loved ones who have been diagnosed. While I think it's arguable, from a psychological standpoint, as to if Sebastian is manic depressive or if his behaviour would be more aligned to post-traumatic stress after a life of abuse, I did want to portray him as accurately as I could on the assumption he suffers from manic depression or something similar.

I have quite a few friends who are bipolar, and in a way, his character honours them. I've seen these same friends go through divorces because their spouse couldn't understand how to cope. I've also seen successful marriages--very successful--because their spouse was there for every up and every down and wasn't about to call it quits. Seeing these friends, both the ones who have yet to find love and the ones who have, was inspirational.

Being someone with bipolar and loving someone with bipolar are both challenging. Not all relationships that fail are due to the spouse not being able to cope. I've seen instances where the person suffering is the one to call it quits because they can't open themselves to someone else. They want the relationship to work, but they can't bring themselves to become vulnerable. They internalize it all and shut out the other person. This is what almost happens with Lizbeth and Sebastian. He goes so deeply into himself, creating a shield against her, that he almost loses her, never mind that she was willing to fight for their happiness.

Q: Please give us a sneak peek at book 2 in the series.

Book 2 is Charlotte and Drake's love story. From what we see in Book 1, it doesn't appear they have much love for each other, so Book 2 will detail what's behind the curtain and how they turn their marriage of convenience into a fairy tale romance.

Their story is vastly different from Sebastian's and Liz's, so if anyone is hoping for another quasi-gothic romance, they might be disappointed to discover this is far from being a dark tale. There are certainly some adult themes that are as cringe-worthy as Sebastian's past but for different reasons.

My hope is that by the end of Book 2, readers empathize with both characters, and maybe with this newfound appreciation have a new favourite character. It might be interesting to re-read Book 1 after reading Book 2 to see each scene and character from a new perspective.

Q: What's up next for you?

This series continues for quite a few more books. We have Lilith and Walter's story in Book 3, Mary and Duncan's story in Book 4, Cuthbert and Elizabeth's story in Book 5, and finally Hazel and Harold's story in Book 6. Lilith and Walter will be available this coming summer, so those who are eager to read what Lilith's been up to need not wait long to find out!

While this series continues, I will launch a new series that will run parallel. The current plan is to launch Book 1 of the new series around the same time as Book 4 of The Enchantresses. The new series will be all new characters, but you'll find a few cameos from The Enchantresses since all my books are part of the same "world," so to speak. Summaries of the books in the next series are already posted on the website, so definitely check out the Books section of my website to see The Sirens series.

Sounds exciting! *grin* Thank you for your time, Paullett!

Bio of author, Paullett Golden:

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was in the single digits and early double digits of adolescence and young adulthood, I wrote mostly murder-mystery and gothic tales, each with a touch of fairy tale romance. By the time I hit secondary school, I was writing historical romance. I couldn't read enough of the genre or write fast enough.

Soon after I started college, I changed my focus to academic studies, putting writing on the back burner. I then focused on my career as a college professor for a solid two decades before I had a wake-up call.

I was given the prognosis of metastasized ovarian cancer with only months to live. That was a wake-up call. I said to myself, what am I doing with my life? Why am I not writing when that was my one goal in life? I realized I could die soon without having achieved my purpose in life.

I immediately set out to achieve my dreams because I didn't know how much longer I had. I'm proud to say, I'm a survivor and cancer free, but the whole debacle jump started my writing career. While I would never want to repeat what I went through, I can say with full confidence that without it, I would still be waiting to write until the time was right.

I'm fully invested in my new writing career and aim to bring to readers the stories I always wanted to read but couldn't find.

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