Series: Pennyroyal Green #7
Also in this series: What I Did For a Duke, I Kissed an Earl, How the Marquess Was Won, The Perils of Pleasure, Like No Other Lover, It Started with a Scandal, Since the Surrender, The Legend of Lyon Redmond
Genres: Historical, Romance
She rose to spectacular heights…
From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.
He never expected to fall so hard…
He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven...or make outcasts of them forever?
Pennyroyal Green becomes a new favorite.
Thoughts on A Notorious Countess Confesses
I’ve been reading the Pennyroyal Green series all out of order (book 8, 9, 7), but they’ve been fun enough that I keep coming back to them. This is the first review I’ve written, mostly because I go in and out of my desire to write reviews, but also because this is the first book, at least of this series, where I felt like I shouldn’t like it… but did.
Allow me to explain.
Adam is the vicar, and religion — or more accurately, Bible verses and themes — plays a large role in the story. It could be easy to roll over into preachy territory. (Seriously. Adam literally preaches.) Especially with Evie being a former courtesan.
And yet, Julie Anne Long somehow makes it feel like a natural part of the story and characters. Embracing religion isn’t necessarily a theme of the book, but it is an integral part of who Adam is, and I think that’s why it works so well.
Even when the book quotes the Bible! Which, in most cases, I don’t like. I prefer religion to stay out of my romances. And I think that’s why I was surprised by how much I liked A Notorious Countess Confesses. But in a good way.
If you read enough historical romance (or you’re just curious about that time period), you know the double standards of men and women. The divide between wife and courtesan. Virgin and whore. A Notorious Countess Confesses tackles that divide in an overtly religious way. (I think I recall Courtney Milan having a book with similar characters, but less religion.)
But it’s a divide that needs to be tackled, and I like whenever an author does. Challenging society values creates drama, which is good for books, and Julie Anne Long doesn’t hold back in highlighting the hypocrisy that often accompanies Christian tenets such as “love thy neighbor.” (Which is likely part of what saved the book from turning preachy.)
I liked the setup between Evie and Adam. How he seemed impervious to her attempts at flirtation. How she was able to understand him and care for him in ways he needed. How… explosive they were. Good tension and unraveling.
But I also liked them as individual characters: Adam’s struggle to be a vicar (which is no easy feat) and Evie’s struggle to make friends and create a new life for herself. Both their struggles make them sympathetic characters easy to identify with.
Despite the seriousness of the topic, though, I laughed out loud more than once while reading, and it was really the secondary characters who brought the much needed lighthearted moments to this book. It makes me eager to jump into the rest of the books.