Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett: Book Review

Girls Before Earls

By Anna Bennett

Rating: 4/5 
Genre: Historical Romance
Steam: Explicit!
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub Date: December 28, 2021
Thank you St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for my Advanced Copy! You're the best!
Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop

Girls Before Earls Synopsis (from GoodReads):


To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things:a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl strides into her office.


Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.


When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…

I did receive this novel as an eARC from the publisher, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Girls Before Earls Review:

I have never read a book by Anna Bennett before this book, and it is a travesty. Girls Before Earls is a complete delight that pushes past some of the boundaries of a typical historical romance towards something steamier and wholly heartwarming at the same time. The story was captivating and it took me less than a day to read–I didn’t want to put it down!


-Kitty was probably my favorite character in the entire novel. I loved watching her interactions with her uncle and Hazel throughout the book. I was truly rooting for her the entire time. Kitty brought out the best parts of Hazel and Blade, which helped create the emotional depth to the novel.

-Hazel was a great lead for the novel. From the opening lines of the book all the way to the end she kept steadfast in her wants and in her character. I loved that she was so dedicated to education and kept fighting for the girls throughout the entire time. I’ll also say that her support with Blade was a highlight of the book! Enjoyed all of those moments of vulnerability! Also that steam was great and a little unexpected–awesome!!

-The writing style was superb. Bennett sucked you in and kept you engulfed in the story. She would put in an additional plot line just when things seemed to slow down, so there was no slump in any part of the book. I am now going back through and putting her other books on my TBR because it is a shame to not read them!


-I wanted more from Hazel with Blade. Sure she wanted love and put it out there but she never specifically stated why or went through her story with him. I felt like this was a huge piece of their relationship that was missing and the story would have been better off with it. And going off of that, more moments of their relationship developing and some more pining would have just taken this book to the next level for me.

-Also Penelope was such a weak point of the story. I was kind of hoping she’d be a more dimensional character, but it happens and it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

Long Story Short

Do I recommend this book? Yes! This book would be great for any historical romance reader! It hits all of the notes with its tender and steamier moments. The development of the characters was phenomenal, which is what really made this book shine. I would also recommend this book even to contemporary romance readers because it’s one of those books that plays with the constraints of history, but doesn’t adhere to them. It is definitely a more modern version of historical romance. Definitely pick this up!!

If You Liked This One…

I would recommend checking out Emily Sullivan’s novels: A Rogue to Remember and The Rebel and The Rake. Both are phenomenal historical romances! Or for a historical rom-com check out Virginia Heath’s Never Fall For Your Fiancée! All of my reviews are in the links of the titles.


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