Monday, March 11, 2013

A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Skeptic scale: ♥♥♥♥♥
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth;
For thy love is better than wine.
Because of the savor of thy good ointments
Thy name is as ointment poured forth,
therefore do the virgins love thee
- Song of Songs, Chapter 1

Everything this woman writes is just MAGIC. So beautifully done and so, so sweet it just left me a-flutter.

This is an Adam and Eve story - quite literally. Adam is the beautiful, "innocent" Pennyroyal vicar, cousin to the county's powerful Eversea family. Eve/Evie is the scandalous actress-turned-courtesan-turned-countess who's been cast by the ton as a notorious "Black Widow" when her husband dies suddenly. She escapes for some peace to Pennyroyal Green, her husband's unentailed property. 

JAL made no attempt to hide the overtly biblical allusions and I was ready to be offended on behalf of women everywhere because of the old Eve-as destroyer-of-innocence thing. But perhaps I too was seduced by this Eve, this sharp, unrepentant siren, that all my defensiveness at what the reference symbolized just melted in a puddle at her feet. She's certainly not an innocent, but neither is he. At least she doesn't try and hide behind a wall of civility and religiosity. 

JAL clearly had a lot of fun with the biblical theme and it was cleverly weaved throughout the story (Eve acted at the Green Apple Theater, plenty of angel and snake metaphors) and there were references to passages in Corinthians and Song of Solomon that made me want to revisit my study of the Bible as the ultimate romance novel (ergo the quote up top from Song of Songs). Some of that stuff was HOT. 

The interaction between both the characters is heart-thumpingly thrilling. They're both so well-rounded out, we almost feel their internal tension that keeps them from giving in to each other. And the things he SAYS, our Adam, made me want to climb into my kindle and get myself thoroughly compromised by the man. He was the perfect tormented H - wanted what he shouldn't and then when he couldn't take it anymore out there and grabbed it, everything else be damned! Sigh...

This is a book I shall re-read many times.

NB: I actually wrote a review of this on Amazon under a different name so a lot of it may look familiar to anyone really looking

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