Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "How to Capture a Countess" by Karen Hawkins

How to Capture a Countess (The Duchess Diaries, #1)
(The Duchess Diaries #1)

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

Pocket Books -- Published on September 18, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 357 pages
Read in September 2015
Received from Paperback Swap


Revenge Plot, Animals, House Party

Urged by her favorite nephew, the intimidating Duchess of Roxburghe agrees to transform a thorny Scottish rose into a lovely bloom. But even she isn’t prepared for fiery Rose Balfour.

At seventeen, Rose fell wildly in love with Lord Alton Sinclair, known as Lord Sin for his wicked ways. Stung by his indifference, the starry-eyed girl tried to win an illicit kiss, but then panicked and pushed the notorious rakehell into a fountain. Leaving Lord Sin floating among the lily pads to the mocking laughter of his peers, Rose escaped back to the obscurity of the Scottish countryside.

Six years later, Sin convinces his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe, to invite Rose to her annual house party, where he plans to get revenge by making Rose the laughingstock of polite society. To his astonishment, he finds she has become an alluring woman who threatens to turn the tables on his nefarious plans. Thus Sin and Rose begin an epic battle of the sexes that becomes more passionate at every turn. Eventually, one will have to surrender . . . but to vengeance? Or to love’s deepest passion?

"At the urging of my husband, Roxburghe, I put pen to paper in the hope that this diary may undo some of the unkindnesses posterity will attempt to attach to my name."

Read for the 2015 TBR Challenge--September--Historical Romance. The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.

Why I Chose it for my TBR Challenge ReadTrying to pick a historical romance to read for this month's theme was surprisingly difficult due to the fact that I have so many to choose from!  I actually had to put my first choice down because I was getting bored so I decided to focus on an author that I had previously enjoyed, but hadn't read in awhile.

How to Capture a Countess is the start of the Duchess Diaries series which focuses on three sisters who are aided by their godmother, the Duchess of Roxburghe.  The oldest of the girls, Rose, is the first heroine and her romance is complicated.  She fell in love with the rakish Lord Sinclair (obviously known as Lord Sin), but her pursuit of him was waylaid when she panicked at their first kiss and pushed him into a fountain at a ball.  This caused a scandal and she left Edinburgh society to hide out at her family's home.  Now, years later, Sin is determined to get revenge on Rose and "convinces" his great-aunt (Rose's godmother) to invite her to a house party.

The set-up of is complicated with the prologue that portrays Rose and Sin's first meeting and then the various bits of scheming on the part of Lord Sin and the Duchess of Roxburghe.  I did have a hard time getting through that beginning with all of its moving parts and no interaction between the hero and heroine.  But, once the house party started, I was engrossed in the romance and ended up enjoying it.

As I mentioned above, Rose is the oldest of the Balfour sisters, and she has been the mother figure in her family since she was eleven.  She feels like she lost her one opportunity to have fun when she caused the scandal with Sin and has resigned herself to a quiet life in the country.  Sin also had to deal with growing up too fast since he inherited his title at age seventeen and was put in charge of numerous estates and his younger brothers.

The best part of this book was the growing relationship between Rose and Sin.  Their physical attraction is immediate despite the fact that Rose is, of course, not the type of woman that Sin usually pursues.  But, it is their back-and-forth that really makes them stand out.  They are so similar that they know how to push the others buttons which causes quite a few scenes that made me laugh out loud.  I found them to be reminiscent of Kate and Anthony from Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me.  There is even a pall mall match!

I also adored the character of the Duchess of Roxburghe.  There are many meddlesome relatives in historical romances, but she is one of the best at it.  I liked that she truly cared about both Rose and Sin and knew they could make each other happy if they just let it happen.  She also has some great companions in her scheming with the hilarious Lady Charlotte, the stoic butler MacDougal, and an energetic bunch of pugs.

Besides the less than thrilling start, there is nothing that I didn't like about How to Capture a Countess.  The characters were well-developed (main and secondary) and the romance moved along at a decent pact.  I appreciated the lack of suspense plot or Big Misunderstanding which would have disrupted the flow of the story.  There really wasn't anything that stood out as highly original, but sometimes there is nothing better than a good romantic comedy to make one's day a little brighter and this book accomplished that for me.

From the Diary of the Duchess of Roxburghe...
I vow, I cannot seem to walk past a window without seeing my great-nephew carrying Miss Balfour somewhere. All great romantic poems have such scenes where the hero, in a fit of passion, sweeps the heroine off her feet. Sadly, it appears that Sin’s technique is questionable.I’m surprised that, with all of his supposed experience with the gentler sex, he doesn’t realize that women do not like to be carried in a way that musses their hair and leaves them with unattractively red faces.  Sadly, yet another conversation I shall have to have with that boy.
1. How to Capture a Countess
1.5. Princess in Disguise
2. How to Pursue a Princess
3. How to Entice an Enchantress

Goodreads -- Author Website

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  1. Hmm. I have seen this one around. I'm not sure if I would like it though because I think it's very juvenile that Sin (Seriously, the most ridiculous nickname ever) wants to get revenge for when a 17 year old pushed him into a fountain. It just seems like such a silly thing to get revenge for. I don't often like revenge stories, especially ones like that.

    But I'm glad, once the heroine and hero actually were together it was fun. I do love Anthony and Kate!

    1. It was silly, but, thankfully, that part of the plot didn't last very long. I am happy that I stuck with it despite the beginning.

  2. I actually really loved this one. Karen Hawkins writing is really well done and really sucks me into the story (which scores big points, because not all historical's now adays can do that for me). And yeah at first its a bit silly, but most things in life are at times and I loved these characters and the way the story went along. Its one of those that you can relax and romantic.

  3. That seriously sounds like a dynamic I'd enjoy between them. I've not tried her but definitely need to.


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