The fairy tale courtship did not turn into a happily-ever-after . . .
Not until her husband dropped dead, that is. He had been horrible enough to Christiana during their short marriage, and she was not going to allow the traditional period of mourning to ruin her sisters' debuts as well. So she decides to put him on ice and go on as if nothing's happened . . .
Until the real earl appears. Richard Fairgrave had every intention of confronting his villainous twin who had robbed him of his name and title . . . only to discover that he had died. Quietly assuming his identity, Richard must now deal with a maddening desire for his ravishing inherited "wife"— certainly a gold digger and possibly a murderess. And Christiana must deal with an unwanted new "husband" . . . and they both must figure out what to do before the ice melts!
Christiana is miserable in her marriage. Her husband of one year, Dicky, belittles her at every turn, punishes her for no reason whatsoever and criticizes her intelligence on a daily basis. He’s had her holed up in their London townhouse and little did she know, turns away her many visitors. When Christiana finds him dead in his study she’s not quite sure how to feel - but it's not sadness. Her sisters who are visiting immediately stop her from telling anyone about the death so that they can have their debuts and one can find a husband immediately so that she can pay their father’s gambling debts. They manage to get Dicky’s dead body up to his room and attend a ball that night.
Imagine the women's astonishment when Dicky walks into the ball! Only they eventually come to find out that this isn’t Dicky – this is Richard, Dicky’s twin and Dicky wasn’t Dicky at all, but George, Richard’s twin. Wow! George had had his twin, Richard, killed a year ago only Richard didn’t die. George then proceeded to take over Richard’s life but obviously someone wanted him dead as they believe that he was poisoned.
After looking at all of his options Richard believes that his best bet would be to just step into the life that George had made – otherwise he would have to prove that he was who he said that he was and there was no way to really prove that. It would be a huge legal battle and a massive scandal for Christiana and her sisters which he wanted to avoid since they were victims in George’s scheme as much as Richard himself was. But that also means that Christiana would be his wife. Richard’s okay with that as she seems like a nice person and he certainly has no problem lusting after her - or bedding her. But for Christiana she’s afraid. Sure, Richard seems like a nice person but Dicky-George did too until after the vows were spoken then he became a complete ass. Does she really want to put herself into another situation where her husband is someone who might be portraying himself as someone he’s not?
The book started off in a mad cap way with Christiana and her sisters carrying George’s body all over and then Richard and his friend Daniel carrying George’s body all over and all of them trying to hide the fact and not get caught. It was cute but a bit on the ridiculous side for my liking. When the story got into the part with Richard and Christiana and their relationship I thought the book improved amazingly.
Richard and Christiana were so cute together. They started their relationship in a sexual way when Christiana was more than a bit tipsy but it really strengthened the bond that they shared together. Christiana was afraid of Richard at first – except when they were in bed – and she was afraid to be herself with him. George had really hacked her self-confidence to pieces and she feared being punished for any little mistake. It was a pleasure to see her come out of her shell and start to be the person she actually was – with Richard appreciating who she was at every turn.
The book has its share of murder, mayhem, blackmail and frantic carriage rides as well as many sexy scenes and a bunch of that great Sands humor that I’ve come to know and love. The Countess is a bit on the silly side at times but overall it’s a fun historical read. I’m looking forward to reading The Heiress when it comes out as it has to do with Christiana’s sister Suzette and Richard’s friend Daniel who both played a prominent role in this story.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Countess releases on 1/25/11
The Countess releases on 1/25/11