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Review ❤️ What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie

July 27, 2018


Scandal does not define the “fallen” ladies of Puddledon Manor’s Benevolent Home. Instead, it’s a recipe for an intoxicating new future as the women combine their talents—to operate their own brewery and alehouse . . .
When Penelope Barnes arrived at the Home with her young daughter, she discovered a knack for horticulture—and for cultivating the hops needed to produce a superlative pint. She put her scandalous affair with Harry Graham firmly in the past, along with the wrenching pain she felt when he went off to war. After all, she’d always known a farmer’s daughter had no future with an earl’s son. Now she has the pleasant memory of their passion, and she has little Harriet, for whom she would do anything—even marry a boring country vicar . . .
Harry went off to fight for the Crown unaware that his delightful interlude with his childhood friend had permanent consequences. Now he’s back in England, catapulted into the title by his brother’s untimely death. He sorely misses his former life of unfettered adventure, so when he has reason to explore Little Puddledon, he jumps at the chance. But what he finds there is something—and someone—he never knew he’d lost, and a once forbidden love whose time has come, if only he can persuade Pen he’s home to stay . . .

Release Date: Jul 31, 2018
Series: Widow’s Brew
Book: 1
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Kensington
Imprint: Zebra Books – reissue
Price: $5.99


The first story in the Widow’s Brew series caught me off guard. Let me preface this, as there may be those who may be reading a review from me for the first time. In a lot of instances, I’ll select a book merely by the title name, author, and possibly genre. Due to my busy schedule I don’t always read the book blurbs or research the books before I launch into them.  You read that correctly. I typically know nothing about the book and I like to go in a little blind. Keeps me on my toes and allows me to fully absorb the experience.

That being said… I enjoyed this story, though I’ll admit there were a few things that threw me off. Let’s get the ‘off’ things out of the way. One, the heroine at times comes off as a conundrum. At times she settles, allowing herself and her daughter to be treated in a fashion I disliked. Then at others she stands up for herself. I found Penelope’s relationship with other women disheartening, where she let those women push her around instead of standing up for herself. Though, due to the character’s past, her nature is not surprising. 

Two, the hero had a similar flip flop from being heroic to thinking very dude bro about Penelope. At times I wanted to slap him. For me, dude bro heroes are hard sells, typically. Though, the hero eventually wised up to his dumb ways of thinking, I am not sure if he experienced truth growth. Outside of the situation just working out for him.

Things I enjoyed included the truth of Penelope’s circumstances. She’s the daughter of a farmer, an unwed mother, and I think McKenzie did a fantastic job of showing the type of life a woman in her position would end up in, especially back in those times. Her options were few and the fact she survived is testament to her strength. This book also played with some of my favorite tropes, second chance romance and class warfare.

I will continue with this series as I am interested in seeing what happens to the other secondary characters that I believe will be future heroines. At least I hope they will be. For those looking for historical reads with a mid-level angst factor.

I recommend this book for readers who love Miranda Neville.

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One Comment

  1. sounds pretty good in spite of the flip flopping

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