A Scandalous Countess is Jo Beverley's latest entry in her "Malloren World" series. It's always nice to revisit this Georgian setting where real men wear lace and high heels and when one never knows when one will catch a satisfying glimpse of the beloved Rothgar.
Georgia, the widowed Lady Maybury, is nearing the end of her mourning period. Her husband was killed in a duel and rumors abound that she had an affair with the man who killed her husband and has since disappeared. Georgia was blameless, though her happy, flirtatious manner during her marriage earned her the nickname "Lady May" and didn't helped her cause. A creature of London and the ton, she is looking forward to resuming her life, but the renewed whispers surrounding her may make that difficult.
Lord Dracy, recently of His Majesty's Navy, has inherited an impoverished barony with but one asset: a splendid racehorse. He wins a race against the Earl of Hernescroft, Georgia's father, who tries to renegotiate the bet. Instead of the stud Dracy had hoped for, the Earl proposes to give Dracy his daughter and her generous dowry. Once Dracy meets Georgia, he is very inclined to accept the offer, and begins a slow courtship, wishing to win her on his own merits.
Georgia and Dracy seem to be polar opposites - she is a vivacious and light-hearted social butterfly, while Dracy is a bit rough around the edges and is happiest in the country. Georgia is drop-dead gorgeous while he has a terrible facial scar from a shipboard fire. She cannot imagine a life without every luxury at hand, while Dracy must be very frugal to bring his estate back into productiveness. But neither can deny their attraction or the bond they form while Dracy works to solve the mystery surrounding the late Lord Maybury's death and the continuing scandal which dogs Georgia's footsteps. While Georgia and Dracy start out as opposites, they convincingly prove to be entirely compatible and perfect for each other.
My only real complaint about the book is that, at 406 pages, it is a bit long. There were times when things could have moved along at a brisker pace or a point was unnecessarily belabored, but this is a minor gripe and didn't lesson my enjoyment of Georgia and Dracy's sweet and sexy romance.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, February 21, 2012