ARC Review: A Notorious Countess Confesses
A Notorious Countess Confesses--Julie Anne Long
Published by Avon Books
Released October 30
Evie Duggan has risen above the poverty and controversy of her past to become a countess, albeit a notorious one. However, when widowed, she retires to fashionable Pennyroyal Green to make a new start for herself. After a rough start, she enlists the aid of Vicar Adam Sylvaine to gain acceptance from the other women of the village. As they learn more about one another, Evie and Adam also discover a desire between them that causes ripples in the whole town.
This is only my second Julie Anne Long title; I read What I Did for a Duke but didn't enjoy it as much as everyone else who reviewed it did. It wasn't that it was bad, it was one of those cases where the heroine was so opposite of what I enjoy reading, I was put off. That disappointment, however, wasn't enough to keep me from trying this title when it became available for review.
Reading this book reminded me of a cross between The Thorn Birds and The Scarlet Letter. The controversial nature of the relationship between Adam and Evie (notice the names?), the passion that between them that wouldn't be denied and the reaction of the townspeople to a bit of kindness shown by a religious person to undeniably scarlet woman...
I liked them individually. Evie's unashamed acceptance of her past and her strength of character in handling the townswomen and the overall prejudices of the village made her an attractive heroine, just the type of woman I like to read about. I also liked Adam's determination to be the best vicar possible, the way he politely managed the women's attempts to manage him and his care and concern for Evie. Still, for me, they didn't quite fit as a couple. I had trouble understanding the attraction between them beyond that of the forbidden.
If you are expecting lots of smoking hot scenes, you will be somewhat dissatisfied. Most of the romantic tension stems from their restraint and the occasional passionate kisses. It isn't until the last 50 or so pages they become intimate and then it reads pretty much every other romance novel: hot and intense. I know it is difficult to get the right balance between staying true to a character, especially in the case of a vicar, and the demands of readers but I'm not sure that balance was met here. It seemed to go from grandma speed to NASCAR racing in a very quick time and I felt left behind and wondering what happened. The ending seemed abrupt, as did the epilogue, reinforcing that feeling. I actually found myself going back to double check that I hadn't missed something.
There were good parts of the book and there were parts that I had problems with, but overall, this was an interesting story. Will I read Long again: definitely. As much as I didn’t like Evie and Adam together, I kept reading to see what happened next. I cared about both of them and wanted the best for each, even if I didn’t agree with the author’s choice.
*eARC provided by publisher through Edelweiss