So far it's been quite the year of historical romance for me! Yet another new to me author that has won me over, Joanna Shupe has a way of telling a fun story with interesting characters. Have you read Joanna before?
While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels.
She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.
Format: .epub (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Lady Maggie Hawkins's debut was something 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?
If you’re a frequent reader of historical romance then you know about the numerous ways a young, unmarried lady could have her bright future snatch from her in one night. InThe Harlot Countess by Joanna Shupe Lady Maggie’s story begins on such a night.
On the night of her debut, a young Lady Margaret Neeley’s reputation is ruined by a convincing rumor. Despite her attempts to hold her head high, no one, not even Simon Barrett, the man she thought was in love with her, wants anything to do with her. Humiliated and heartbroken, Maggie leaves London society behind for a time.
Ten years later, Simon, now Lord Winchester is the subject of an artist’s embarrassing cartoons depicting him as a drunken fool. Eager to find the artist and put a stop to it before it ruins his political aspirations. Running into Maggie again, now the scandalous widow Hawkins is a distraction he doesn’t need, yet with her knowledge about art, Simon figures she can help him find the infamous Lemarc.
A reunion romance ten years in the making and marked with betrayal, lies and scandal? Yeah this book really called my name and hooked me with its brilliantly written story and feisty heroine. I’m all about a good heroine and Maggie was definitely that.
Not many women in historical romance would have been able to survive the scandal that Maggie did, let alone use it to create a name and lifestyle for themselves. I’m sure Maggie took plenty of time to lick her wounds, as evidenced in some of her interactions with Simon. Yet, what destroyed her hopes for a normal life is also what forged her into a formidable opponent for Simon as well as a better love interest. Her ability to create this mask of “I don’t care” and “Take me as I am” while underneath she still hurts was one of the things that drew me to her. Her cunning and intelligence made her an amazing woman and one that I truly enjoyed getting to know.
Simon, for all his intelligence and political skills was a surprisingly dense and proud character. He took society’s word over the girl he supposedly loved and wanted to marry. Even ten years later he was still too blind to the facts that were slapping him in the face from the moment he and Maggie met up again. I wanted to strangle this man because he was so full of injured male pride that he failed to use his so called brains to figure out that when faced with Maggie, the rumors didn’t make sense. Sure he was still attracted to her but he didn’t really trust or respect her. He could see the unfairness of the world when it came to other women who were used and abused by men but not when it came to Maggie? I wanted to strangle him sometimes! The moment of truth between him and Maggie was a bit of a letdown too. It was kind of like Simon shrugged it off and went “Oh! That’s what happened? My bad” and Maggie, I think, forgave him too quickly. I felt like it should have had a bit more flare, drama and yes, angst. I didn’t feel that Simon was terribly sorry or humbled by the truth of Maggie’s ruination.
While the story was predictable, I still found The Harlot Countess a fun read. Author Joanna Shupe created a strong minded female with flaws, stuck her in a time period where she would struggle to overcome gender inequality and made her shine. That to me is what makes a historical romance memorable. A fun but flawed heroine who doesn’t roll over and give up. Maggie deserved her happy ending and I enjoyed watching her get it.
Final Verdict: Shoot, I missed the first book in the series!
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