My Favorite Countess
By Vanessa Kelly
Release Date: May 3, 2011
She is difficult, demanding, and at times, quite fierce. And Dr. John Blackmore can't take his eyes off her. The Countess of Randolph is the most striking woman he has ever seen...and the most infuriating patient he has ever tended.
Mired in responsibility, Bathsheba doesn't have time to convalesce in the country. She should be in London, hunting for a wealthy new lover to pay off her late husband's vast debts, not dallying with a devastatingly handsome doctor.
But it is only a matter of time until the good doctor and the obstinate countess will have to contend with the sparks that fly between them. And once their bodies surrender, their hearts may follow…
Bathsheba Compton, Countess of Randolph is an atypical heroine. She's abrasive and rude, and she was the villainess in a previous book (Sex and the Single Earl). Yet for all that, she became a worthy heroine that I ended up liking, and I owe it all to Vanessa Kelly. It's not just anyone who can redeem a very bad girl.
Bathsheba's reason for all of the naughty things she has done boils down to protecting her family. Her late husband, Reggie, left the estate practically penniless and recent crop failures and poor investments have left Bathsheba with no choice but to go to London on a "husband hunt." Before she leaves the estate in Yorkshire, however, she meets Dr. John Blackmore. She is immediately attracted to the handsome, virile physician, but Bathsheba knows that he cannot provide her with what she needs. But time and again, they cross paths, and when Bathsheba falls ill and John is there to care for her, their attraction turns to something deeper.
John Blackmore is not your typical doctor; he's an accoucheur, the 19th century equivalent of an obstetrician, something of an oddity in that time period. He is passionate about his work, treating both women of the upper class at his practice in Mayfair and also caring for the poor women in the rookeries of London---those women who are shunned by many, and in most cases would die without John's care. Even with his medical intervention, he cannot save them all, but he is driven by reasons known only to him. When he meets Bathsheba, he is captivated by her beauty and is determined to bed her. The more time he spends with her, the more John wants her, not just for a moment's pleasure, but for a lifetime.
The road to happily-ever-after for John and Bathsheba is a rough one. They both have demons to overcome, but while the journey is long and difficult, the end is worth the trip, and readers will rejoice in the happiness of these two complex and fascinating characters. Their chemistry is instantaneous and incandescent---enough to have readers breaking out the fan---but there is incredible tenderness, too.
She swallowed hard, looking shy again. But then something shifted in her gaze. That bruised, vulnerable look faded away, and his wicked countess---sultry and knowing---stared back at him.
He laughed softly. "There you are."
She tilted her head and everything changed again. Her eyes grew soft as something elusive and shadowed chased the wickedness away. He looked deep into her secret gaze and knew he was lost. There was no going back, and no possibility that his heart could remain untouched. Desire swamped him, driven by a need to possess---a need he could no longer deny.
John is my kind of doctor: tall, dark, handsome, incredibly virile, and he gives new meaning to "bedside manner." When Vanessa Kelly said that she based him on Dr. McDreamy and Hugh Jackman, I immediately knew why I found him irresistible. And Bathsheba finds him equally hard to resist. Stories of redemption often involve the hero, so it was particularly refreshing---and unusual--- to see if a heroine could go from villainess to a woman who we can sympathize with. I'm happy to say that's the case here, and Ms. Kelly does a remarkable job on all counts.
Fans of Kelly's other books will enjoy appearances by characters from those stories---one of my favorite things about series. My Favorite Countess is an emotional and deeply touching story that will hold you in its grasp from the very first page and won't let go until the last word. It is firmly ensconced on my keeper shelves and is one of my top reads of 2011. Brava to Vanessa Kelly, one of historical romance's shining stars.
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