16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Julie Anne Long is on my "auto buy" list and this latest offering will keep her there. The writing is wonderful, with lots of hidden meanings (and some not so hidden: H/h's names are Adam and Eve...) and symbolism and extremely smart dialogue. In fact, I can always count on this author to provide amusing and witty conversations and there are great ones in this book. The story has a nice pace and leads up to a slow boil of passion and tension. So well done!!
A believable tale of love and passion between the courtesan and the vicar was going to be hard to pull off and it was well done all the way until the denouement. Sadly, that was just too over-the-top, required too much suspension of disbelief and almost ruined the book for me. That is why I only gave this book 4 stars and, in fact, this was more of a 3.5 stars. Also, I am not sure what happened to the editing but this book needs to be re-edited and corrected! There were way too many typos and grammatical erros (lots of wrong pronouns, for example.) Very strange and not characteristic of this author at all. Finally, another problem was the change in the heroine's name: I just told myself if was the author vascillating between the heroine's aristocratic monikers but it was very distracting. In fact, the first time Eve, "Lady Wareham" was suddenly "Lady Balmain" I groaned, assuming poor editing. There is probably an explanation but it took me out of the book each time it changed. Not good.
Nevertheless, I remain a total Julie Anne Long fan -- "What I did for a Duke" was a masterpiece as was her last one -- this one doesn't quite reach that level but it was pretty darn good! You won't go wrong reading almost anything by this author.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Julie Anne Long is one of my favorite, favorite authors. "What I Did for a Duke" is on my Desert Island list. I love that book so much! So I was beyond excited to see her new book available for review. I couldn't wait to get it and when I was approved I was ready to dig in for a long night of reading. Until I realized it was about the vicar and a courtesan. Ugh! I know I am probably coming at this from an entirely different angle than most people but that H/h combination is just not my favorite. I don't like to read about the Clergy being seduced by anyone but a skilled, much wanted, notorious courtesan?
Oh geez...I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. I guess it's that higher standard thing I have for men of the cloth. Plus, I was really wanting to read a good story about the Everseas and the Redmonds but instead we are treated to a story about the cousin Adam! Which isn't a bad thing. I don't have anything against Adam. I just really wanted to read about Ian or Lyon. Anway, several books back we learn that Adam is eye candy for all the women in Pennyroyal Green but now the recently widowed Countess, Eve, (ex-courtesan) arrives in town in an attempt to try and rebuild her life in relative obscurity. She doesn't fall madly in love with Adam and physical relations between the two of them take a long, long time to ever happen in the book, thankfully for me. Also, their names are Adam and Eve. I had read half of the book before I realized their names were Biblical references to the first man and woman. Duh.
Julie Anne does a decent job of helping us like the Countess by making her easy to relate to and showing us her painful and checkered past. I don't really blame Eve for the choices she's made but I don't especially like the idea of her with Adam. Neither do the townspeople I might add. We expect bad behavior from Colin and the Eversea clan, but the dutiful, loved by all pastor Adam seems a stretch to me. At times, I didn't know how to feel about the situation.
As usual, Julie Anne Long has a beautiful way with words and emotions. She brings you right into her novels and paints beautiful word pictures. I really liked this paragraph. "You see, Reverend, you may never know this, but love, real love, the kind that you fall in, isn't like Corinthians. The "suffereth long" and "is kind" nonsense. It's like the Song of Solomon. It's jealousy and fire and floods. It's everything that consumes. I defy even you to resist it should it visit you in this lifetime, no matter the circumstances, and I don't know whether I would wish it upon you. It's a . . . beautiful suffering."
In all of Julie Anne's books we are treated to a hint of what is happening between Olivia and Lyon but this book didn't really add to the story. Instead, it just barely hinted that Olivia was moving on. I don't know. I was confused about that and was hoping for more.
I love Julie Anne Long's writing and look forward to her future books with baited breathe but this one is not going to go down as one of my favorites..not by a long shot.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2012
This is the seventh novel in the Pennyroyal Green series and my first Julie Anne Long. I enjoyed about 85% of it, putting her on par with Eloisa James. In fact, I enjoyed Long's style so much I was halfway through the book before I realized she'd named her lead couple Adam and Eve. (I got over it and kept reading.) Long does a great job with Adam's uncertainty. Instead of a fire and brimstone vicar he's a man of doubt doing the best he can to muddle through. Her depiction of a conflicted man of faith rang very true. I had a little more trouble with Eve. Having decided to live a respectable life, Eve is ready for a fresh beginning in a village already familiar with her past. Who else for Eve to turn to but the town's moral center? Adam isn't just a local boy made holy. He's the town heartthrob.
I found the relationships between Adam and Eve, between Eve and the matrons, between Adam and the debutante girls plausible. The relationship between Eve and the girls made me roll my eyes. With nothing in common beyond their age, Eve is soon giving advice on men to them. This advice is rather modern. Be yourself. Make him treat you like a queen. Confidence is beauty. (Eve has seen the darker sides of men. I think she'd lead with other aspects of the male / female power dynamic but if she's still a romantic who am I to argue?) Most readers will find the ending of A Notorious Countess Confesses jaw-droppingly romantic but it almost ruined the book for me. Early in the book Eve tells Adam she has serious control issues. Eve's number one statement to Adam is about self determination and self direction. This is a key aspect of her personal security. Adam not only disregards this, he treats her like a child while he does it. Adam's end of the book assumption that he knows best in all things made me crazy. Eve (and most readers) embrace it. The Eve from the start of the book would have seen right through Adam's emotional theater to the manipulation at the core of his actions. Alas, she was long gone.
With the ending being my sticking point, a five star read dropped to a three or four for me. Under consideration I decided to go with four stars. When Ms. Long is good, she's very, very good and when she's bad she's not horrid. With a small twist in the closing chapters, A Notorious Countess Confesses would have been one of my best books for the year. I will definitely try another Pennyroyal Green novel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
"A Notorious Countess Confesses" by Julie Anne Long. This book was so beautifully written and so enjoyable to read! Every page was a treat; I laughed and cried and sighed many times. The H&h were incredibly perfect in that he was so good without loosing any masculinity & she was so bad in her life, due to extraordinary circumstances, and yet, her heart was kind and good. The story was different from so very many others out there. The entire town is somewhat involved before the story is finished. The sensual tension, and more, was excellent throughout. I cannot imagine anyone thinking they love historical romance who would not love this story. I could hardly stand to put it down to take meals. For me, this was a keeper to reread over and over. I highly recommend this to anyone with a beating romantic heart! My age recommendation would be for those over 16 years, IMHO. If you are new to this author, three other favorites of mine by Ms Long are: How The Marquess Was Won, Like No Other Lover, & What I Did For A Duke.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2013
I enjoy romance novels, particularly regencies and historicals. But only a handful of authors ever make much of an impression on me. I have never felt compelled to write a review until now because I was surprised by the negative reviews of this one. It's true that the Kindle edition has some flaws (needed editing for some pronouns and such). But I usually read very quickly through these novels. This one made me slow down and take notice.
If you've read What I Did For A Duke, you know that Julie Anne Long creates very compelling characters, especially heros and heroines. You also know that she creates very witty and compelling dialogue. She's a cut above the vast majority of romance writers in this regard.
In A Notorious Countess, Eve and her vicar are so admirable and flawed and believable. Just great characters. There is depth to both of them, and their story is very touching. The conversations between them have depth and great deal of intelligence, and of course passion simmers wonderfully through much of the tale until it finally burst into flame. I thought it was a compelling love story, enhanced by the heroine's relationships with the women in the town and by secondary characters like Lady Fennimore.
The most interesting thing about it, though, is that both hero and heroine are so fundamentally good and good-hearted. Despite the steamy parts, there is a lot here about faith and community. Loving thy neighbor, and so on. But it's not at all preachy, it's refreshing. Highly recommended.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
Here comes book eight in Julie Ann Long's Pennyroyal Greene series and while in this one we're not following any of the Eversea's or Redmond's, even though our hero the Vicar is a cousin to Ian and Colin Eversea, it is still entertaining and character driven as the previous seven.
The story opens with Evie Duggan, or lately better known to the ton as The Black Widow, as they all ran her out of London believing her capable of `doing her husband' in.
As she escapes to the only place left to her, she meets a town full of women that are righteous, pious and many in awe and very protective of their young Vicar. Laying her eyes on him, she's not surprised at their actions toward him and to have their friendship, she knows only one man can help her in that attempt, Adam Sylvaine.
Adam Sylvaine is young in age, but when it comes to his soul, the man has seen as much pain as happiness. He's honest, loving and very protective of his parishioners. His love for them goes beyond his acceptance of their prejudices. It goes to the root of who he is.
Revisiting all the residents of Pennyroyal Greene was like coming to your home town! I loved finding myself among them once again, and as usual, Ms. Long has given me yet another clue to Lyon and Olivia's story that I wonder if there ever will be a happily ever after for those two together.
Once I found out that this love story would involve a vicar and a courtesan, there was no way in Hell I was going to miss it! She created a Beta hero we can all fall in love with: honorable, caring and kind, and then paired him with a heroine that was flirtatious, smart and loyal; both were loving, courageous and very strong in their own right.
If anyone could pull this off, it was going to be JAL. I can tell you without a doubt, she has done an outstanding job with her writing, pace, plot and dialogue. She's one of those rare authors that give their secondary characters time and space to grow on us to a point where we become protective of them as much as we do of our hero and heroine.
`A Notorious Countess Confesses' is one of those stories that will grab you from the moment our heroine falls asleep in the middle of our Vicar's Sunday sermon, to the very end when all is revealed.
Julie Anne Long is not just a good story-teller; she's a poet with her prose. With it, she leaves me light-headed and I promise it'll do the same to you!
ARC provided by Edelweiss.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long was a hot and smoldering read. The characters were written to perfection, even though they weren't. You see a woman who is considered by society as the black widow type. Evie Duggan was once an actress, courtesan and then married a man who won her in a card game. Even after her husband died people talked abut her being the cause of his death. Evie, a Countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.
Then one day at church service, she sees the Vicar Adam Sylvaine who looks like a fallen angel. She notices that women in the church are vying for the vicar's attention. She has sworn off men, particularly handsome ones . Adam finds the widow a beautiful and desirable woman who tempts his soul. He gets to know Evie and she him, for they risk scandal. Can two people find in their hearts to become one, or will they forever be torn apart by society? Please read this book and find out if love will prevail.
I received this early arc from edelweiss for an honest review.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
This is the copy of the facebook entry that I put on Julie Anne Long's facebook page. I can't think of anything any better to say than this completely admiring review.
I just finished Adam and Eve's book (I started it about 6 or so this evening). I wish my vocabulary was voluble enough to describe how wonderful it was. I enjoyed getting to know these two. Eve, because she is so incredibly strong, yet fallible. Adam, because he is so good, yet not a paragon. I laughed out loud on several occasions (apartment living isn't so terribly conducive to such things, especially in the middle of the night, but what's a girl to do?) My eyes misted and my heart lifted. Thank you sooo much for the work and care that you put into this story. It was wonderful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2013
Reviewed on The Romantical Skeptic [...]
Everything JAL 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.
JAL made no attempt to hide the overtly biblical allusion and I was ready to be offended on behalf of women everywhere that yet again, Eve/woman is portrayed as the harbinger of sin and corruption to the pure and blameless - Adam/man. But perhaps I too was seduced by this Eve, this sharp, unrepentant siren that the implication of the reference just didn't matter anymore. 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. Some of that stuff in SoS 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 than 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.
We often get a good look into the goals and motivations of the female characters in romance novels but less often do we get such a good understanding of the inner workings of the male lead - particularly in the historical romance world. And once we're inside his head we learn that Adam is interesting, hard working, caring and gorgeous. Some reviewers may call him "beta" but he didn't really come across that way to me. He was definitely in command of his life and motivations - before Eve ruins his peace, of course.
This is a book I shall re-read many times.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
Rating: B ... Heat: Warm
When I saw that this installment in the Pennyroyal Greene series would have a Vicar hero and a Courtesan heroine, I couldn't help a little fist pump in the air followed by a, `Yes!' The forbidden fruit, the irresistible temptation romance never fails to prick my heart and tug on my emotions. I love when seemingly complete opposites struggle and fight and, inevitably, give in to their overwhelming attraction. Which is exactly what we get in A Notorious Countess Confesses.
Granted, my enthusiasm was preceded by a bit of whining and a mournful, `Why?! I need Olivia and Lyon's story now!' *cough* hint *cough* But once I began reading, I quickly forgot about Lyon and Olivia (for the time being) and was consumed by Evie and Adam.
Evie Duggan has been many things in her lifetime thus far. Daughter. Orphan. Pseudo-Mother. Actress. Courtesan. Countess. Widow. She has done what was needed for herself and her siblings to survive. Used flirtation and charm and innuendo to get her, and thus her family, the things they needed. And somewhere along the way, her false face became her only face and she forgot exactly who Evie Duggan really is.
Until she meets Adam Sylvain. Straightforward and honest, unlike all of the other men Evie has known, she can't use her wiles to manipulate him. Though he may be a bit rigid and unbending, Adam chooses to see the good in people and expects good things from them. He knows immediately there is more to Evie than the coquette she pretends to be. And he can't help but want to get to know her, the true Evie that no one else gets to see. Even though it puts his position as vicar at risk.
It is always so much fun to revisit familiar places and characters. Pennyroyal Greene and its eclectic denizens never fail to bring the drama and feel-good entertainment. Although, I must say, in this book a good majority of Pennyroyal Greene's residents aren't on their best behavior.
More than one judges Evie harshly and says and does things that make her feel low. It tore at my gut to see her subjected to such treatment. After everything Evie has said and done, when all she wants is to have friends... Oh, how I felt for Evie! I just wanted to hug her tight and shake my finger at them and say, `Shame on you!'
And, occasionally, this applied to Adam as well. The man just can't help himself sometimes. He doesn't even realize till it's too late how barbed and hurtful he can be. But if Evie can forgive him, then so can I. It definitely helps that he is a fine specimen of male flesh... and has a good heart.
A Notorious Countess Confesses is such an ardent and earnest romance. It leaves you with a goofy smile on your face and fills your heart full of warm and fuzzy feelings. And it has what might be one of my favorite, most creative, and completely fitting declarations of love. Oh, Adam Sylvaine, no one would dare call you a `smooth operator' but you definitely have your moments! Sigh.
Now, Miz Long, can we please, pretty please, have Lyon and Olivia's story next?
He watched, as if in a dream, as his mouth lowered. And first just his breath stirred the fine dark hair. And then his lips, at last, were against her skin. He pressed, slowly, lightly, a kiss there.
Her breath hitched. Half sigh, half moan, the most wholly erotic sound he'd ever in his life heard.
His lips lingered softly, so softly. His breath, his mouth, savoring her.
-- A Romantic Book Affairs Review