Secrets of a Proper Countess by Lecia Cornwall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A widowed countess (3 points?) is forced into a facade of strict propriety due to the terms of her husband's will, which leaves control of her behavior, access to her son, and her means of support entirely to her strict mother-in-law. It is therefore very risky to go off with a man at a masked ball--yet she does. I do like it when the hero/heroine get down to business in the first 20 pages of a book! But our hero has secrets of his own--hold onto your hats, ladies!--he's really a spy! And he suspects that our heroine is behind a murderous Bonapartist plot.
While I get tired of the spy plots--if all these romances were true, nearly every non-villainous English aristocrat between 1800 and 1815 would be either a spy, a rake, or both--and our hero is both, of course--this one was very well done. The plot is original, the writing is polished, the characters are sympathetic and likeable, the love scenes are hot, the villains get what is coming to them, and it has a mother protecting her child. What could tug the heartstrings more?
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