The Harlot Countess by Joanna Shupe
Publisher & Release: Zebra, April 28, 2015
Time and setting: 1819, England
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Length: 352 pages
Heat Level: 3 Flames
Rating: 5 Gold Crowns
Maggie, Lady Hawkins, had a debut she'd rather forget--along with her first marriage. Today, the political cartoonist is a new woman. A thoroughly modern woman. So much so that her clamoring public believes she's a man...
FACT: Drawing under a male pseudonym, Maggie is known as Lemarc. Her (his!) favorite object of ridicule: Simon Barrett, Earl of Winchester. He's a rising star in Parliament--and a former confidant and love interest of Maggie's who believed a rumor that vexes her to this day.
FICTION: Maggie is the Half-Irish Harlot who seduced her best friend's husband on the eve of their wedding. She is to be feared and loathed as she will lift her skirts for anything in breeches.
Still crushed by Simon's betrayal, Maggie has no intention of letting the ton crush her as well. In fact, Lemarc's cartoons have made Simon a laughingstock...but now it appears that Maggie may have been wrong about what happened years ago, and that Simon has been secretly yearning for her since...forever. Could it be that the heart is mightier than the pen and the sword after all?
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I am so glad I found this amazing series. I read the first book and had to immediately purchase the second one. The Harlot Countess pulled me into the glittering world of Regency England with the vivid descriptions of the attire and setting.
Maggie, the widowed Lady Hawkins, is an artist known as Lemarc. Her drawings depict members of society in less than favorable light, especially Simon Barrett, the eighth Earl of Winchester, a man who wants to become prime minister someday.
The last thing Simon needs is for his peers to remember his reckless youth, but Lemarc is determined to sabotage his efforts to gain political support for a bill he wants to pass in Parliament, a bill that is near and dear to his heart. Never mind his goals to become prime minister.
When circumstances place him in the path of the woman who broke his heart many years ago, he has to decide whether revenge or love is more important. Can he trust this woman, or should he crush her?
This is a fast-paced, exciting read with great characters, even though, at times, I struggled to like the hero. Ultimately, he is a character I love to hate. He truly fought his feelings to the bitter end, holding onto his firm belief in Maggie’s perfidy. Even when faced with the true, he still wanted to hold onto his resentment. It may sound like I didn’t enjoy Simon, but I truly did. He’s deliciously flawed in the best way.
Maggie is also a flawed character. She is definitely feisty and independent, but while I understand she was deeply hurt when Simon turned his back on her without even giving her a chance to explain what really happened, her grudge against him seemed a bit too over the top. What about the blackguard who caused her ruination? She left him alone until he comes back into her life. Whether I truly fell in love with her character, I found her deliciously complex.
I listened to the audio version and the narrator is fantastic. I will definitely be looking for other books performed by Carmen Rose. She reads with a great deal of passion without becoming too dramatic, and she does an outstanding job on the male voices. She is a true delight to listen to.
If you like a romance with plenty of angst and passion, then you will enjoy The Harlot Countess as much as I did. This is a great series, so glad I found it. Happy reading!