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Thursday, April 30, 2015

REVIEW: "The Harlot Countess" by Joanna Shupe


The Harlot Countess (Wicked Deceptions, #2)
The Harlot Countess by Joanna Shupe
(Wicked Deceptions #2)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

Zebra -- Published on April 28, 2015
eARC, 352 pages
Read in April 2015
Received from Netgalley

THEMES/TROPES
Reunited Couple, Widowed Heroine

SUMMARY
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 theton 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?
 

FIRST LINE
"Silence rippled throughout the ballroom the moment her slipper hit the top step."

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free copy of this book from Zebra via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Harlot Countess is the second book in Shupe's debut Wicked Deceptions series which focuses on three scandalous women and Society's reaction to them.  I liked the first book in the series (The Courtesan Duchess) so I was excited to see more of this author's writing.  And I thought this book was even better though I did have some issues with the hero.

Maggie becomes known as the Harlot after her best friend's fiance accuses her of seducing him which resulted in her being married off to an elderly lord and exiled in the country.  But, after her husband's death, Maggie returns to London and discovers a passion for political cartoons though she writes under a male pseudonym, Lemarc  She also becomes known for throwing elaborate and scandalous parties that innocent debutantes never attend.

I really liked Maggie's character.  She was put in an unfortunate position through no fault of her own, but figures out how to make the best of it.  While Society has labeled her and treated her horribly, she embraces the scandalous reputation and enjoys her independence.  I especially enjoyed the fact that she drew political cartoons and used that medium to get back at those who mistreated her...anonymously.  I do wish there had been some more time spent on her work process, but overall I had a blast getting to know Maggie.

The hero of The Harlot Countess is Simon, the best friend from the first book.  He is an earl who is climbing the ladder of politics in London despite the fact that the famous political cartoonist, Lemarc, focuses primarily on him.  Simon is also dealing with the return of the woman he fell for years ago (Maggie) and the fact that he never really got over her betrayal. 

I really liked him in The Courtesan Duchess though I was less impressed with him in this book.  I understand that he felt betrayed by Maggie's supposed seduction of another man, but he never even tried to talk to her about it.  Big Misunderstands are always something that I am wary of and the lack of communication especially on Simon's part was really irritating to me.  I was just not a fan of his treatment of Maggie and didn't feel like he earned her love by the end.

Despite my issues with his character, I did think the development of the romance between Maggie and Simon was well-written.  They obviously had feelings for each other long ago and the author helps readers understand that through various flashbacks and discussions.  The romance takes some time to rekindle due to a lack of trust on both sides.  There were some sweet moments that had me believing in their love story, but I did want more especially on Simon's side.

I do think that Joanna Shupe's writing has improved since the first book.  The plot development of The Harlot Countess was tighter and not as over-the-top.  The portrayal of Maggie's character was most impressive to me and I look forward to reading the last book in the trilogy soon.

3.5 STARS


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Courtesan Duchess
2. The Harlot Countess
3. The Lady Hellion (Coming May 2015)

OTHER REVIEWS
The Keeper Shelf
RT Book Reviews
Romance Reviews By Ruckie

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- LibraryThing -- Shelfari
Author Website -- Publisher Website -- WorldCat

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon -- Barnes & Noble -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play

3 comments:

  1. Oh Big Mistunderstandings rarely work for me. If I'm thinking the whole time "just talk to each other" then it's not working.

    I do like the idea of Maggie's cartoonist occupation. That is totally awesome!

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  2. The title on this one just kills me. I saw it a while back when I was doing book release post prep and was curious about it. She really sounds like an awesome heroine.

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  3. I loved your description of the characters. This heroine sounds pretty awesome. I would like to try this author sometime soon though.

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