Book Review: The Earl & The Mud-Covered Maiden

This is the first book in a brand new ‘House of Hale’ trilogy from the mistress of Regency romance, GL Robinson. And true to her signature style, the author’s pen(wom)manship brings extra sparkle to this genre with a plucky leading lady, a story that continues beyond the wedding vows, and a chapter with charming echoes of Pretty Woman.

regency romance | historical fiction

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

back cover blurb

Sophy is covered in mud by a distracted curricle driver. Then he hides his real name from her. And that’s only the beginning of their problems. 

When rain-soaked Sophy Hawthorne is splashed with mud in a country lane by a handsome stranger driving much too fast, she’s affronted but attracted at the same time. The same goes for him. But to win her hand he has to employ not altogether straight-forward stratagems. And if the beginning is inauspicious, a secret revealed on their wedding day is worse.  

This is a classic, clean Regency story of lovers caught in a twenty-year old mystery that for the sake of the family name, they must untangle.  
The Earl and the Mud-Covered Maiden is the first book in the House of Hale Trilogy, introducing characters you will love to follow as they set out on their rocky path together.

Author - GL Robinson | Published by - Amazon on 30th August 2020 | Pages - 195 (ebook)

I would like to thank Glynis for sending me an advance manuscript copy of The Earl & The Mud-Covered Maiden in return for an honest review.

my thoughts

In what I am beginning to learn is a signature style of GL Robinson, The Earl & The Mud Covered Maiden offers a cheeky twist on your average Regency romance.  The hallmarks of this genre are given a little extra punchiness, in the form of a spunky, bold ‘heroine’ who makes up for a lack of monetary riches with a sharp mind and, at times a sharper tongue.  Regency romances are not the books I normally seek out, but I’ve come to enjoy the humorous little quips scattered in Glynis’s books.  

The key characters in The Earl & The Mud Covered Maiden are Sophy Hawthorne – the intelligent and spirited leading lady; Lysander Barrington – the broodingly handsome Lord Hale; Mr & Mrs Bradshaw – the vicar and his wife; and Sophy’s father, Mr Hawthorne.  

Sophy and her father live in the run-down Hawthorne House, with the last two remaining staffers, Mrs Peters and her son Robin.  Once a happy family home, the place is falling ever closer to ruin whilst Mr Hawthorne drinks and gambles away the family possessions, and the family’s good name, in a self-absorbed attempt to deny his own misery.

Whilst Sophy scrabbles to try and hold the home together, her opportunities to mix socially have fallen away to nothing; nobody wants to associate with a girl whose clothes are painfully outdated, darned and patched beyond respectability.  Not that the poor girl has the time to gad about though, seemingly serving as a third member of staff to her father, and bartering household effects with local producers to try and secure a meagre supply of firewood for the winter.

Having rebuffed an unwelcome and unsolicited marriage proposal by Mr Frimpton; a conceited and unattractive newcomer to the village, Sophy flees the house to avoid the drunken reproach of her father.  As if triggered by Sophy’s mood, the leaden autumn clouds finally give up any pretence of holding back, unleashing a deluge of cold rain, soaking her cloak and bonnet in seconds. But when a horse-drawn carriage comes tearing along the track, casting a wave of water-logged mud over Sophy, her saturated clothing becomes the least of her worries.

But this is it; the moment when Sophy meets her Mr Right albeit unbeknown to her.

Lysander Barrington didn’t think he could’ve been more stunned than to encounter anybody out walking in such filthy weather, let alone a young woman.  And he gets his second shock of the day, just moments later, when his galant rescue efforts are met with frosty, sometimes outright hostile responses, rather than the simpering and fawning he’s become used to.  Sophy’s sparkiness is exciting to him, igniting feelings this man-about-town is very familiar with … but also something rather more meaningful.

And so, with a little improvisation, Mr Barrington finds himself in front of the fire in Hawthorne House, calculating how he can contrive to spend more time in Sophy’s bewitching company … at exactly the same time Mr Hawthorne is calculating exactly how much he can gamble from this visitor’s pockets. Over the course of the following chapters the book stays true to the much-loved Regency romance formula, with the beautiful Sophy overcoming her innocence and confusion to fall in love with the handsome Earl … but it’s written with such charm that it’s difficult not to be swept along.  As I read, I found myself drawing parallels between some of my favourite scenes in Pretty Woman and Sophy’s trip to London for a dress-fitting with the wonderfully written Madame Deville.  You’ll know what these scenes are when you’re reading this chapter.

Whilst at the dressmakers, Sophy’s path comes awkwardly close to crossing that of Madame Beaufort; a widower who also has designs on becoming Lady Hale.  At first I felt the author had missed a trick, the ideal opportunity for a bit of adversity for the young lovers to overcome … but as I said at the beginning, GL Robinson writes romances with a little extra panache, and she had other ideas about the troubles our Sophy and Lysander would be facing. 

These troubles come to the fore at the worst of moments … during the wedding toasts.  A drunkenly garbled secret threatens to jeopardise Sophy and Lysander’s marriage, and their chance at a happy future together.  The secret was revealed in spite by her father, and the only person able to stem Sophy’s anguish died eight years previously. But faint heart never won fair lady, and having settled his adored wife into Hale Court, their new marital home, Lysander sets off to discover the truth behind his father-in-law’s claims, leaving his new wife alone in his sprawling ancestral home.

But let us not forget that Sophy isn’t the simpering, simple-minded maiden of many Regency romances.  Far be it from this plucky young woman to sit around twiddling her thumbs whilst hubby races heroically round the county.  No way!  Having received an enlightening letter from Mrs Bradshaw, Sophy orders the butler to arrange a carriage and sets off on her own investigations, somewhat scandalising the sensibilities of the more traditionally-minded staff of Hale Court. 

I won’t say any more about the secret, the revelations, or about the events that unfold … that’s for you to discover at the hand of Glynis’s charming and engaging wordsmithery. But I will reveal that Sophy and Lysander’s paths cross once again, in the village of Feyreham where Sophy grew up.  Whether their reunion is the happy ending you’re craving, or tinged with lovelorn and anguish is not for me to say though, it’s for you to discover.

Over the past few months I’d like to think I’ve struck up a new, albeit long-distance, friendship with Glynis, and I’ve come to learn that she’s an author who would fill her writing room with a thousand readers given half the chance.  Her readers are an enormously important part of her writing process, and they played a significant role in finalising the quirky title of this latest book.  Glynis’s loyal following is testament of her respect for her readers, her casts of likeable characters, and her talent for bringing historical details to life on the page.

The Earl & The Mud Covered Maiden is GL Robinson’s fourth published novel, and the first of a new and exciting trilogy entitled The House of Hale.  True to her form, the author is once again pushing the boundaries of Regency romance, this time by taking the story beyond the wedding; the point at which these genre books usually end. 

Buy The Earl & The Mud-Covered Maiden in ebook format at AmazonUK | | BookBub

stop press!

The second book, The Earl & His Lady, is due to be published this autumn, with the final instalment, The Earl & His Heir, scheduled for release at the end of the year …  a festive treat for all GL Robinson’s readers.

If you wish to be on the mailing list for early information including a sneak preview of the forthcoming books in the House of Hale trilogy here’s the place to go next …

about GL Robinson

Website | AmazonUK | GoodReads

GL Robinson was born and educated in the south of England, but has
lived for over forty years in the USA with her American husband. She
tried and failed to adopt an American accent, so people still call her The
English Lady! She is a retired French professor, and loves flowers in the garden, eating with friends and talking with her grandchildren. She has published two children’s travel books for ages 8-11 inspired by one of them.

She was inspired to start writing after the unexpected death of her dear sister in July 2018. They were educated in a convent boarding school and would giggle at historical Romances after lights-out under the covers. They were, and are, a life-long passion for them both. All her Regency Romances are dedicated to her sister.

For more information about the author, to listen to her read from her books, receive a free short story, or get sneak previews about upcoming books, please go to visit

She loves to hear from her readers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s