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Long's Notorious Countess Confesses
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 783
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I felt as if I raced through A Notorious Countess Confesses, which is testament to how much I enjoyed reading it. I think though in the end that I liked it less than my favorites of the Pennyroyal Green books, which for me are What I Did for a Duke, Like No Other Lover, I Kissed an Earl, and even How the Marquess was Won, which I know wasn't a fan favorite in the series. What I did like and agree with others is that Long is such a nice writer - able to convey so clearly romance, heartbreak, passion, and wicked comedy all in one book. This book is a bit quieter I found than her others, but that seems to suit the couple's story here. Unlike many of her other books, I found the hero to be a bit bland, whereas Evie is the more complex and interesting of the couple. She's wonderfully self-aware and unrepentant, and easily side steps any 19th-century stereotypes of the "hooker with a heart of gold." Adam didn't work for me nearly as well because he's near perfect rather than shades of grey, or enough grey. I would agree too that this book is not at all an "inspirational" romance. In fact, I would say that religion is less of a calling here than a vocation for a young middle class man who admits frankly in the opening chapter that it was the Church or the military and he didn't look forward to being shot. God and various incarnations seem to be invoked in this novel more during lustful moments than any other time. Adam does have a calling though, which is to nurture and protect others, more in the spirit of social welfare or community organizer, and in this respect he is brilliant at his job. My main criticism of the book, and it's not a big one, but I'll put it out there, is that the conflict is largely external. Social prejudice against a courtesan serves as the obstacle here. Even though Adam has reservations at times that Evie is toying with him and he has to face uncomfortable feelings of jealousy, the real problem is social disapproval and the judgmental attitudes of others. Can these realistically be overcome? Early in the novel it seemed possible though by the end, without giving it away, I wasn't so sure and the very end of the novel didn't quite work for me. All in all, this was a very good read though and I still thoroughly am enjoying her characterization of small town life.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1467

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with much of what you say, Blackjack 1; however, I think Long is very crafty in how she gets around the women's natural objections toward a courtesan in their midst. I, personally, don't usually like novels with prostitutes as heroines. Long manipulates the plot so the women have to choose whether to side with our heroine when she defends the value of women in response to a boorish husband's public denigration of his wife. Added to that is Evie's clever lure to these women to befriend her in order to learn what she knows about men (I do not mean sexually). I think you are right, Blackjack 1 to imply that the village's decision at the end may not be realistic, except that Evie has married into the aristocracy, thus giving her a sheen of respectability. I loved the final scene in the church with members standing, quoting the Bible. No one should be put off from reading this book, IMO, by its treatment of religion. In short, I loved it. It is the best book I've read in quite a while.
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readsalot



Joined: 07 Dec 2010
Posts: 4
Location: europe

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:56 pm    Post subject: Long´s Notorious Countess Confesses Reply with quote

I love this discussion, because I really, really loved "What I did for a Duke", for me it was one of the best books ever. The couple was so well matched, in my mind the age difference was absolutly no issue, I could not say if they are so special together because or altough those years between them. But I have to say that my parentes were 16 years apart, and I never realized that this could be a bit extraordinary till I was an adult....
So I do have a question: in this new book, "A Notorious Countess Confesses" are there some glimpses (better more) of Alex and Genevieve, the couple in "What i did for a Duke"?? I would sooo love to hear/read from them again!
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Eggletina



Joined: 06 Jul 2010
Posts: 434

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't recall Genevieve and Alex being in this one, though I think they are mentioned once. Colin, Ian and Olivia are in this story, with more sequel baiting surrounding Olivia and Lyon, which makes me wonder whether there were any Easter eggs concerning their relationship in How the Marquess Was Won. I didn't read that one, but have read all of the others.

I enjoyed this one, but it's not my favorite. Like No Other Lover is still my favorite of the Pennyroyal books.


Last edited by Eggletina on Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 783
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alex & Genevieve do not make an appearance in this book though they are alluded to once. Surprisingly, Violet makes an appearance to help further the Olivia/Lyon plot along, and the unmarrieds are here as well (Ian, Jonathan). Will Seamus be a new hero soon? And I was a little surprised by how much of Colin we see here.

Yes, I do agree with the assessment that Evie is generating some pro-women sentiment in her support for the Pennyroyal Green women for what they contribute to their community. She is smart and strategic and I enjoyed her characterization greatly. I enjoyed too her conversations with the women, particularly with Amy and her encouragement of Amy's essential worth as a person. I don't particularly have any problem with a courtesan as a main character but prejudice is a huge obstacle to overcome and I wondered if enough happens to allow a community to accept a former courtesan. Women clung to their morality and sexual mores and used them for social power. There was a small niggling doubt as I read the conclusion to this novel, but I can accept it on its own terms. The novel embraces the idea of a happy resolution, and just as with What I Did for a Duke, we are meant to believe in this happy ever after.
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Sterling_95



Joined: 04 Oct 2008
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eggletina wrote:
Colin, Ian and Olivia are in this story, with more sequel baiting surrounding Olivia and Lyon, which makes me wonder whether there were any Easter eggs concerning their relationship in How the Marquess Was Won. I didn't read that one, but have read all of the others.
.


Yes, there was sequel bait regarding Olivia and Lyon in Marquess, highlight if you want to read:

The heroine, Phoebe, has a very expensive pair of gloves that are her most valued possession. She catches Olivia staring at them with a stricken look and Olivia is very insistent about finding out who gave them to Phoebe. Later on, we find out that Lyon had the gloves custom made for Olivia, but she rejected him and he gave them to Phoebe and kissed her right before he took off.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, the same kind of age gap that you see in WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE is there in BEAUTY AND THE SPY. It just isn't mentioned. But if you do the math, the hero is 17 and fighting a duel at least a year before the girls are orphaned. It's less noticeable because the hero acts younger than his age and the heroine acts older. That doesn't mean I didn't like the book. I did. It just amused me that no one ever commented on the age gap.
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 525

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't consider 38 to be middle-aged, so I would call a romance where one partner is in their mid to late thirties and the other is in their twenties a May-August romance.

Smile

Whether I find such a age difference icky depends on the respective maturity of the people involved and the whole context.

In my favorite romance by Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades, the hero is in his forties and the heroine isn't even twenty yet. And I love this couple.
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Lillian Sulivan



Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 237

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We like our historical characters to be more than modern people in costume - until they do something entirely period appropriate and squickie.

jaime wrote:
In my favorite romance by Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades, the hero is in his forties and the heroine isn't even twenty yet. And I love this couple.


In 1886, 49 y.o. bachelor US President Grover Cleveland married 21 y.o. Frances Folsom - his ward! - in the White House. Just imagine that happening today.

Best,
Lilly

PS - John Philip Sousa (of the Marine Band) was of the opinion that young Mrs. Cleveland had the most advanced and developed musical taste of any of the First Ladies he served.
_________________
"Or perchance when the last little star has left the sky,
Shall we still be together with our arms around each other,
And shall you be my new romance?"
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desiderata



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 226

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finished the Notorious Countess Confesses last night. Loved it. Loved the dialogue between Adam and Evie, loved Evie, loved the chemistry and the development of the relationship between the two. JAL is one of my very few autobuy authors anymore, and this novel is an excellent example of why.
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desiderata



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 226

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finished the Notorious Countess Confesses last night. Loved it. Loved the dialogue between Adam and Evie, loved Evie, loved the chemistry and the development of the relationship between the two. JAL is one of my very few autobuy authors anymore, and this novel is an excellent example of why.
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KSR



Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 43
Location: Silver Spring, MD

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a wonderful book! A true pleasure to read!

I have enjoyed most of Julie Anne Long's previous books, and this one will rank near the top. Beautiful prose; interesting and complex characters, particularly the protagonists; humorous dialog.

I must admit to suspending disbelief at the climactic sermon scene, but what a glorious ending. This is why we read romance, after all...

I do have a question - I seem to have a memory of meeting Adam in one of her previous books, and there being a bit of magical realism. I seem to remember him healing someone, through his touch. If I am not mistaken, that is why he came to the attention of the Everseas. If this is the case, it is interesting that this bit of magic appears only in the subtlest way in his own book.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1390

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that I did have a bit of a "you're kidding me" reaction to names in ANCC: a somewhat religion-centered story with the h/h named Adam and Eve?
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 783
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[slight spoiler}...I too anticipated more explanation for Adam's supernatural, for lack of better word, abilities. I was led to believe in the previous book that he had special skills that are maybe akin to being a healer and that this would be fully explored in his own book. Though there is one scene in ANCC referencing back to Adam's talent, there isn't a discussion or exposition in the book to explain this or why it's important to his story. For instance, Evie doesn't question Henny's rapid return to health and takes Adam's role at face value. Perhaps we're meant to associate Adam's power with his religious beliefs or that his power led him to his vocation. I still read this book more as Adam as nurturer and caretaker rather than Adam as spiritual leader as the religious elements of the novel are not emphasized nearly as much as the theme of community bonds. I sensed an ambivalence in the book about religion, I guess.
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stl_reader



Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 231
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm about half-way through this book and the (lack of) editing is really bugging me!

Another poster has already mentioned some of the gaffes. I could add some more (like "He...grasped her wrists, raised them to his shoulders--she obeyed by looping them about her neck"--should be his neck), but the constant shifting between "Lady Wareham" and "Lady Balmain" was the worst.

It's an okay read, in terms of the story line, but the poor editing is really impeding my enjoyment.
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