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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Favorite Countess by Vanessa Kelly

My Favorite Countess by Vanessa Kelly
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

She is difficult, demanding, and at times, quite fierce. And Dr. John Blackmore can't take his eyes off her. The Countess of Randolph is the most striking woman he has ever seen...and the most infuriating patient he has ever tended.

Mired in responsibility, Bathsheba doesn't have time to convalesce in the country. She should be in London, hunting for a wealthy new lover to pay off her late husband's vast debts, not dallying with a devastatingly handsome doctor.

But it is only a matter of time until the good doctor and the obstinate countess will have to contend with the sparks that fly between them. And once their bodies surrender, their hearts may follow…

My Favorite Countess explains in a delightfully awesome manner why a woman from a previous story was such an unbearable and nasty harridan and how she ends up deserving the love and acceptance she gets in this book. Once I realized who this book was about I was all excited with anticipation and the author met every one of my hopes as the plot unfolded.

Lady Randolph, Bathsheba, truly earned the title of heroine. She’s a woman of her time who has been dealt with an overabundance of bad luck, sadness and victimization. As a woman with a noble title she’s not expected to have to worry about much and it’s acceptable for her to grace the parties and the dress makers in fashion and with attitude. All of it is a front. What a reader will find out is that Bathsheba is a woman driven to desperation and she will do anything she has to in order to protect her family. She has tried it in the past and fortunately failed. She can’t fail in this book and a reader comes to understand how much is riding on the success of her personal sacrifices. A reader feels her wounds, her worry and her crushing fears of failure. She’s a truly tortured heroine and it’s going to take a special kind of man, a genteel warrior, to reach her heart and the terrified woman hiding within.

Enter Dr. John Blackmore. He needs more patience than patients. I couldn’t resist saying that. But it’s also very true. Bathsheba has the poor guy dancing down an emotion-filled path filled with thorns, potholes and honeyed candy. He’s a smart, educated and intelligent man who would do Sir Sherlock Holmes proud. He watches, observes and sees what everyone else has failed to see and benefits from the insight he gains. He applies it to his practice with the poor and he applies it to the heroine. She is as injured as some of his patients to be sure and I really enjoyed watching the hero peel back Bathsheba’s defensive layers to find the jewel within. He is as methodical as a surgeon -- focused and intent. I loved his steady strength, his sense of humor and his finesse. He’s not perfect and I liked that too. Readers will find out that he has his own burden, his own fear that dogs his path and colors many of his decisions. It will take a very scary and dramatic confrontation to bring it all to the fore.

The conflict in this story is complicated and delightfully meaty which kept me turning the pages at a swift clip. I never could second guess the hero or heroine because they never did quite what I expected. It kept me off kilter but I’m glad to say they did that to each other too. That was fun. There were a few elements of external conflict that really showcased the strength of character and personality of both the hero and heroine. I also thought it made them grow into better people as the story continued. It wasn’t an easy growth nor was it without pain. Those make for the best reading and Ms. Kelly delivers.

When John and Bathsheba succumb to the passion that burns inside them for each other, the pages turn smoking hot. I simply have to say that playing doctor was never so much fun especially when the guy is a real doctor. I found that I fanned myself from frequently heated cheeks because the scenes were so well written, I could visualize them. Thank goodness it’s winter right now.

I also appreciated how Ms. Kelly had Lord Silverton and his family, as well as the Stantons from the previous book, play pivotal supporting roles in this story. I enjoyed seeing them again and I thought their gradual acceptance of Bathsheba a sweet and telling addition to the book. It gave me the warm and fuzzies. And no, readers do not need to read the first book to appreciate My Favorite Countess. This book completely stands on its own because the hero and heroine are such vibrant and well rounded personalities. The secondary characters are frosting on a very yummy cake.

My Favorite Countess is a thrilling and heart-touching historical romance that truly grips a reader right from the emotional beginning. The pace, dialogue and dramatic conflicts kept me on the edge of my seat while the interaction and by-plays between John and Bathsheba kept me entertained and committed to their story in the hope of their finding a happily ever after. That they did with a very poignant, sincere and lightly humorous wrap up that satisfied the romantic in me. I am thrilled with the quality of writing that Ms. Kelly provides and I heartily look forward to her next book. My Favorite Countess is quality romance.