A Scandalous Countess
Signet, $7.99, February 7, 2012
Lady May is back. And so is the scandal that sent her tumbling from her position as the toast of London, when her husband, the Earl of Maybury, was killed in a duel. Even a year of mourning hasn’t quieted the rumors of her infidelity.
Georgia Maybury is determined to regain her position in the beau monde, but a scarred ex-naval officer threatens her plans...
Once again, Jo Beverley transports us back in to the decadent and dazzling world of the Mallorens. A Scandalous Countess is the second book in her intriguing Three Countesses trilogy. Set in the Georgian era, Ms. Beverley’s opulent descriptions of the glittering ton with its witty dialogues and lively dalliances continues to enchant. Dark intrigue and scandal only further enhances the experience and elevates this series above a normal historical romance.
Lady Georgia Maybury was married at the tender age of sixteen to the Earl of Mayberry and proceeded to shock and delight the beau monde with her daring escapades. Nicknamed Lady May for her flighty behavior, her husband did nothing to curtail her exploits but rather encouraged her, as he was secure in her love for him. When her husband is killed in a duel, Georgia loses everything except her marriage provision and is forced to live once again with her parents.
When Georgia’s year of mourning comes to an end, her past behavior comes back to haunt her as vicious rumors of infidelity surface. Georgia plans to wait out the scandal until her mourning period ends but even time cannot turn back the tide that has turned society against her. Her only hope is to marry well again.
Lord Dracy is a former navel officer who inherits an impoverished estate from a cousin. Scarred and poor, his chances of finding an heiress with a large purse to marry him is almost nonexistent. Forced to come up with funds to restore the estate, he bets his horse against the neighboring gentry. When Georgia’s father bets his racing horse against Dracy’s, Dracy knows his horse will win and hopes to use the Earl of Hernescroft’s horse to stud. But Georgia’s father has a different prize in mind: His daughter. He feels that Dracy’s strong naval discipline will tame Georgia’s wild ways and protect her from the backstabbing ton.
Our protagonists, Georgia and Dracy, were a delight to meet. Both strong, lively, and intelligent, they had a wonderful chemistry that is apparent from their first meeting. Though an unlikely match, their relationship flourishes and deepens as they become further acquainted with one another. While Georgia’s beauty initially attracts Dracy, it’s her charm and intelligence that captivates him. He realizes quickly that the face she presents to society only serves to hide a delightfully witty young lady who’s still waters run deep. And though Dracy isn’t what she imagined for a second husband, as she spends more time with him, she realizes that he is exactly what she wants and needs.
“How many men have you kissed?”
She thought about it. “Perhaps ten.”
“How many of them did you enjoy?”
“Why all these questions? If you don’t want...”
Perhaps it was the touch on her scalp that alarmed her. She pushed back, but he kissed her anyway, and her push lost all it’s strength. Pressed to him, her mouth hotly joined to his demanding one, she could do nothing but submit.
And be devastated.
Their engaging banter keeps the storyline and their relationship flowing smoothly. I love the notes and letters that are sprinkled throughout. Georgia is a prolific writer. and her personality shines through her letters.
My Dearest Dracy,
I am bereft that you prefer trees to me, and you’d be justly served if I were to address you as Humphrey at all times. That should steal your dark demeanor, would it not? I shall expect more careful attendance in the future. For now, I will insist that Lizzie teach me frugal household management. I believe people subsist entirely on offal and potatoes if necessary.
Your helpmate in training,
Ms. Beverley does a wonderful job of allowing Georgia to grow from being somewhat frivolous to more grounded without breaking her spirit or subduing her passion. Dracy, like her first husband, understands the flame that resides within her and seeks to cherish and nourish it rather then extinguish it.
“Did I tell you you were my anchor?”
“I’d rather you fly, Georgia, then be tethered by me.”
The intrigue flows smoothly with the romance as Georgia and Dracy, along with some unexpected allies, come to realize that the rumors spread about Georgia are all part of a larger more devious plan. Our villains are both nasty and pathetic in their attempts to crucify Georgia and the outcome is more then enough to satisfy the romantic in me.