Title: The Harlot Countess
Series: Wicked Deceptions
Author: Joanna Shupe
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance
Published: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Kensington Books
My Rating: 4 stars
Maggie, Lady Hawkins, had a debut she’d rather forget—along with her first marriage. Today, the political cartoonist is a new woman. A thoroughly modern woman. So much so that her clamoring public believes she’s a man…
FACT: Drawing under a male pseudonym, Maggie is known as Lemarc. Her (his!) favorite object of ridicule: Simon Barrett, Earl of Winchester. He’s a rising star in Parliament—and a former confidant and love interest of Maggie’s who believed a rumor that vexes her to this day.
FICTION: Maggie is the Half-Irish Harlot who seduced her best friend’s husband on the eve of their wedding. She is to be feared and loathed, as she will lift her skirts for anything in breeches.
Still crushed by Simon’s betrayal, Maggie has no intention of letting the ton crush her as well. In fact, Lemarc’s cartoons have made Simon a laughingstock…but now it appears that Maggie may have been wrong about what happened years ago, and that Simon has been secretly yearning for her since…forever. Could it be that the heart is mightier than the pen and the sword after all?
Read on for my thoughts on The Harlot Countess. No true spoilers, promise.
Lie. It was a lie. She had done nothing wrong, perhaps foolish to believe a man but that was no sin. And when that man did not get what he wanted from her – he lied. His lie had lead to this. Disgraced before the ton, her friend’s betrayal. Then he turned his back to her. He believed the lie without even asking her about it. She loved him, had thought he loved her and now he’d given her the direct cut by completely turning his back to her. Life as she had known it was forever changed by one lie, and one man’s belief in that lie.
In the ten years since that fateful night, Maggie had been married, widowed, loathed, shunned and blamed for something she did not do. Looking back she could forgive her foolish self but she could never, ever forgive Simon. He should have known it was a lie. But no matter. Maggie knew how to extract her revenge on the one man who should have stepped forward and believed her.
While the deliciously sinful Lady Hawkins holds scandalous parties and flaunts herself in front of the ton who had turned on her… Maggie brings her wicked talent with a drawing pen to good use as a political cartoonist. Lemarc is extremely well known for his biting political cartoons, mostly those of Simon, Earl of Winchester. He may be rising through the ranks of Parliament, but that will never keep him safe from Maggie’s wicked sense of satire nor her talent with her drawing instruments. Her much older, now dead husband might not have been good for much, but he did at least allow her to hone her talent in the arts. And revenge is such a delightfully tasty dish.
I completely enjoyed The Harlot Countess. Maggie is brilliant in her revenge. Maggie and Simon’s story is intense and enjoyable. While I could enjoy Maggie getting back some at Simon, in reality I often wanted to smack them both upside the head – both chose to not explain themselves leading to even more miscommunications and misunderstandings. There comes a point where Simon and Maggie must work together against a shared enemy. Their feelings for each other are still evident, they simply have to work toward each other once again. There are some steamy moments, and some touching moments.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a little bit of revenge love, a steamy romance or just loves to see two people finally find each other after far too long apart. It was such an enjoyable read.
*I received an e-ARC of The Harlot Countess from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That does not change what I think of this novel.*