Monday, January 14, 2013

Vouched Book: "The Reluctant Countess" by Wendy Vella

The Reluctant Countess
Wendy Vella
Publication: January 8th, 2013, Random House Publishing | Bantam Dell / Loveswept
Genre: Historical Romance

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From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: The Escape Diaries, The Devil’s Thief, and The Magic.

I'm a little reluctant to write a review for this book, unable to pinpoint how I feel about it. The Reluctant Countess  had the wonderful, blooming Regency Romance setting with the sex written more toward modern Contemporary that I appreciated. The writing was good, and I liked all the characters. Sophie, the Countess of Monmouth and known by the ton as an ice queen, is not only hiding her past but also a heart of gold to avoid being ripped apart by the masses and their vicious wagging tongues. Patrick is far from the perfect gentlemen, always saying the wrong things, at the wrong time, making him more endearing. The secondary characters—Stephan, Amelia, and Letty—were fun and adorable, too.

But while the premise of a reluctant countess was refreshing and intriguing, the overall execution left something to be desired. Sophie and Letty's secret, when revealed, left me thinking, That's it? That's what all the fuss is about? They didn't commit a crime, and their reactions seemed blown out proportion.

The subplot felt a bit disjointed and contrived. Of course plots are created, but they're not supposed to feel  like it, as though it was simply dropped in for the sake of drama. The villain, not at all mystery, is mentioned in the beginning, makes one appearance, and never shows up again until the end. I didn't find him believable or feel the suspense and that the characters were in danger. I probably would've forgotten all about him if he didn't show up for the conclusion.

Then there was my pet-peeve: "Titanic-izing," when a character repeatedly says someone's name (like Jack and Rose did). I can overlook constant oohing and ahhing, but superfluous direct addresses feel unnatural and make me sigh with impatience, like I would with a telemarketer wanting more than my time and attention.

The book has some great lines that made me laugh, though, this one being my favorite:
"I am a woman, my lord, therefore not a fool." *
Overall, The Reluctant Countess  had a nice love story and realistic smex scenes. Wendy Vella shows potential with her debut. I think fans of Romance—for just the romance—would enjoy it.

eARC provided by Random House Publishing—Bantam Dell
in exchange for an honest review.
* Quote taken from the eARC, not the final copy.


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