Laurie Benson: The Unexpected Countess

-Dash it, Miss Forrester, what are you doing up here?-

The Earl of Hartwick delights in scandalizing the ton with his behavior. But it’s his turn to be scandalized when, on an escapade, he bumps into Miss Sarah Forrester–in the rain, at night, on a rooftop!

Sarah is hunting for a diamond, and the last thing she needs is the infuriating Hart distracting her. But he’s looking for the jewel, too! They may be rivals, but the sparks between them are uncontrollable. And soon Sarah finds herself longing for another treasure–becoming Hart’s countess!

I follow lots of Regency and historical romance authors on Twitter, and love to get involved in discussions about relevant Regency topics, so I was so excited that after sharing some favorite Regency recommendations during a #notRWA17 contest I won a signed copy of Laurie Benson’s An Unexpected Countess!  Ms. Benson sent it quickly, with a lovely note and I was excited to dive in because I haven’t read her yet.

This was a fun, sexy Regency featuring an American heroine who is frank, spunky and everything we love about hist-ro heroines.  She is not afraid to don trousers and sneak about London roofs in the middle of the night, or tell a notorious heartbreaker he annoys her.  Daughter to a former senator and now diplomat, she is besties with a Duchess (heroine of the 2nd book in this series) and accepted within the ton despite her sharp tongue and unconventional ways.  This has had her rubbing elbows with the Lothario Earl of Hartwick, or Hart, who she thinks is undeniably handsome.  Trouble is he knows it.

The Earl is the familiar rakish hero with a heart of gold.  He has some interesting back story that is well executed, with a couple of big, surprising reveals in the end to keep you guessing.  I felt like he had the greatest character arc, so it was nice to have substance behind him.

This is a story with a bit of espionage, scandal, and sexy stuff (more than kissing).  It was a lighter length, so easy to breeze through in a couple of reading sessions and had a couple of surprises in store.  The tension and chemistry between the two really comes alive on the page; Benson is talented when it comes to witty, engaging dialogue.

This is a great book for those who love more of an action packed plot than other Regencies.  There was a bit of the misunderstanding trope towards the climax, but I thought it was deftly handled enough that it didn’t impede my experience.  There were also some unusual locations (graveyard, churches, rooftops) and historical insights (electricity parties) that kept me interested.  I also liked several of the secondary characters (the Dowager Duchess is amazing and funny).

This was the third in a series, but I read it as a standalone and did not have a problem keeping up.  It also didn’t feature a lot of unnecessary scenes pitching the next book to come, so I could focus on the romance at hand.

There is some pre-marital action, and enough mature content or innuendo that I definitely don’t recommend for fans of the clean read.

I have so much in my TBR pile, that’s its hard to imagine giving it a second go, but it was enjoyable enough that I probably would.

4.5 out of 6 Mass market Regency with lots of action in and out of the bedroom to entertain.  Feisty American heroine.

Content Rating/Heat Index
Mature Contentwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Mistresses, adultery, gambling.
Intimacywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Lots of vanilla, but steamy sex.
Violencewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Boxing, scrapes
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Lots of steamy vanilla sex, but otherwise pretty standard mass market hist-ro fare. Not recommended for younger or clean readers.

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