Monday, March 25, 2013

(Review) A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Title: A Notorious Countess Confesses
Author: Julie Anne Long
Series: Pennyroyal Green, #7
Published: October 30, 2012 (Avon)
Rating: Stay Up 'til 2 AM
Format: Physical copy, purchased
Summary: From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven...or make outcasts of them forever?
It was so wonderful to be back in Pennyroyal Green! Having just re-read What I Did for a Duke, I figured it was the perfect time to pick up A Notorious Countess Confesses. While I had pretty good expectations since I love the whole series, I always just take it for granted that none of them will ever be quite as good as What I Did. But A Notorious Countess Confesses absolutely blew me away!

I fell in love with the idea of this immediately. I had been intrigued by Adam in previous books. Nothing like a super hot guy with Eversea blood running through his veins to be the town vicar! But he wound up being even better than I could have imagined: I absolutely loved Adam. I would definitely list him among my favorite heroes. It has to be incredibly difficult to write a non Christian-themed romance with a vicar hero. I've only read one before, and it was good but not great. So I was a little hesitant about this one, but Long pulled it off brilliantly. I very much admired Adam. His dedication and loyalty to his parishioners was incredible, and even though he struggled with some aspects of his position, he was never defeated.
He’d begun to feel equal to the job, but privately, he didn’t know if he would ever truly feel worthy of it. He just knew he would never stop trying to be.
Evie was an interesting heroine! She had been born and raised by a poor family in Ireland, but she moved to England when she was still fairly young. She was incredibly beautiful and adored by every male who saw her on the stage, eventually racking up the sort of notoriety that can only be partially fabricated. But after being cast aside by London society after the death of her husband, Evie wound up in Pennyroyal Green. Evie was spunky, clever, guarded, and completely unrepentant about her past. She was used to using her looks and masterful flirtation skills to manipulate men into doing whatsoever she darn well pleased.
But flirtation had always been her version of fairy dust. She could fling it into a man’s eyes and dazzle him and yet never fully be known. And then never be fully hurt.
Unfortunately for Evie, Adam was not your average man. He was okay with silence, he was observant, and due to his Adonis-level features, he was used to female attention. He was impervious to Evie's flirting, and it eventually turned into a sort of joke between them. But Evie had to learn how to interact with him honestly, which she was unaccustomed to doing. Adam got to do the same with her. And through this, a beautiful friendship was born that could eventually develop into something more.

One thing you should know about me: One of my favorite things in the ENTIRE BOOKISH UNIVERSE is really good slow burn romance. That super slow-building, filled with crazy chemistry, makes you stop breathing by just a touch or a glance, kind of burn. The slow burn in this book was adjective-defyingly awesome. The chemistry between Adam and Evie was un-freaking-believable. It was almost palpable. And their whole story was completely captivating. This book literally kept me up until 2:45 in the morning because the idea of going to sleep without finishing it was unthinkable.

Overall, A Notorious Countess Confesses was fantastic! While it did not quite overtake What I Did for a Duke as my favorite Pennyroyal Green novel, it was definitely a very close second. The relationship development was brilliant, believable, and laced with humor and a mind-blowing amount of chemistry. It was also very addicting and absolutely worth the sleep deprivation it caused me. If you're a fan of historical romances heavy on the slow burn, I would highly recommend this one!

She never should have forgotten that the world was on the side of the planners, not the dreamers.

He couldn’t help but think she was an entire Hallelujah chorus of a woman. Yet another thought he wouldn’t be sharing with his cousins. Or with anyone.

There’s nothing heroic about futility.

Miss Pitney, why do you suppose Envy is one of the Deadly sins? It is a sin against yourself. It harms you and blinds you to many things, including good intentions. God saw fit to make you perfect the way you are. Not more or less perfect than someone else – perfect as you are. You need to believe it for the right person to see it. And the feeling when you are truly seen for who you are...it simply cannot be mistaken.

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