The Reluctant Countess
By Wendy Vella
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.
Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is so cool and collected that she’s nicknamed the Ice Maiden by the members of the ton. What they don’t know is she’s anything but! Her calm exterior is just a mask to hide her terror of having her secret exposed. Patrick, Earl of Coulter, became suspicious of her the moment he heard she was the widow of his good friend who recently died. He’d never met or heard of her and he’d visited the elderly earl of Monmouth three days before his passing. Even though he’s determined to get to the truth, Patrick is also troubled by the feelings Sophie seems to stir in him.
There are themes of the classic fairy tale Cinderella threaded through this story and that’s a good thing. Sophie is incredibly sweet but has steel for a spine. Her motives for hiding her past and the truth around her marriage to the earl of Monmouth aren’t self serving and her sister-in-law is her co-conspirator and benefactor. Patrick is ultra sexy and brooding, the kind of alpha male you just want a piece of. He has his own baggage but Sophie’s the woman who brings out his best. Anytime these two interact, they literally cannot keep their hands off of each other, providing some pretty sexy moments.
Sophie’s secret and the truth about her past aren’t hard to figure out but it does provide a level of intrigue as she tries to remain elusive from the doggedly determined Patrick. They made an interesting couple, passionate, fiery and sometimes stormy.
An added bonus was the underlying suspense connected to Sophie as someone is trying to harm her. The suspect is pretty obvious, even though the motives are murkier. It adds excitement without the romance having to bear the burden of conflict. Sophie’s friend, Amelia, and Patrick’s best friend, Stephen, provide some light moments and another background romance.
I really liked this Regency romance and its likeable and charismatic characters. The exciting climax and incredibly happy ending (though a bit rushed) all help make this an enjoyable reading experience.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)