3.5-4 stars. Important note: Readers, please note that the publication of this book had some major editing issues (details below), which according to a thread on JALs Facebook page are going to be fixed. So you might want to wait until they announce that the ebook version has been updated. It really was a great story, but sadly the publishers messed this one up and forgot to proofread and edit the book.The Story:
Despite having a reputation as a 'black widow' and a former courtesan, The Reverand Adam Sylvaine agrees to help the beautiful widowed Countess, Lady Wareham, make friends with the ladies of community. But he didn't expect to discover that her honesty in life would be her greatest virtue, and one that would draw him to her like a beacon.My Review:
Façade appearances and personal beliefs are unquestionably jaded measures when used to form judgement of another person, and this story rings that truth home. This was a wonderfully sweet and sensual romance tale between a man of the cloth falling for a scarlet woman, and the town folks who see only what they have been taught all of their lives to see. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the relationship between these two, and JAL did a great job making me believe in their attraction and their journey to love.
The romance aspect of A Notorious Countess Confesses won me over, I loved Adam and Evie, and was so happy that I wasn't turned off by her being a former courtesan (a trope that normally rubs me the wrong way). I was less convinced about the friendships between the ladies, but they were being true to their characters so I understood. The ending had its quirky moments though, it was a bit over the top for my liking. It was a bit cheesy, predictable and had that 'all tied up with a bow on top' kind of feeling.
The writing voice is spectacular as always, BUT (and this is a really big BUT!), the editing was just awful. First, the writing.
JAL is one of the best historical romance authors for a great reason. I could soak in her words! She knows how to reach a readers heart, and suck them into her stories so they can't possibly put the book down. One of my favorite lines she wrote:
...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.
As my grand-daddy always said, "that was some great stuff!" But the editing?! Holy moly.
The repetitive errors pulled me out of the story repeatedly! The good news is I understand the publisher will be fixing the ebook version soon, but sadly, anyone with a print version is SOL (Shit Out of Luck).
The heroine's name changes back/forth from Lady Balmain to Lady Wareham over and over! She is also Eve and then Evie, back/forth. There is no consistency as to why she is called what. In mid conversations, characters switch her name and it is so distracting.
Number of 'Lady Balmain': 31
Number of 'Lady Wareham': 45
So how frustrating was it? Here is a conversation snippet with Collin and Evie that takes place over 1 1/2 pages only:
Colin: “Why Lady Wareham!” came a familiar voice behind her. “What a pleasure it is to see you in Pennyroyal Green.”
THEN... just a few sentences later he says this, and he gets her dead husbands name right but not her own!!: “My sincere condolences on your loss, Lady Balmain. He was a good egg, Wareham.”
THEN... a few more sentences later he refers to her by her first name (and no, they are not acquainted well enough for this): “He’s just one of the few genuinely good people I know, Evie. That’s all.”
THEN...a few more sentences later: “Enjoy your evening, Lady Balmain,” he finally said quietly.
This schizophrenic conversation loop happens repeatedly with Adam, and the ladies of the town too.
There are also many other editing issues. 'Pennyoyal' instead of 'Pennyroyal', and sentences like these:
"If you want to know more about Haynesworth, there’s a bloke called Mr. Bartholomew who lives a few miles outside town who had some business dealings with him, if you’d like to know more."
Plus, there are references to things once said that were never really said...etc. If JAL is reading this by off chance:
I beg you to FIRE YOUR PUBLISHING HOUSE and go it on your own. Seriously, you'd be better off self publishing. If this is the editing service you are getting from them, YOU DON'T NEED THEM. This was just sloppy work on their part, THEY FAILED YOU. This was one of the most frustrating books I've read all year, and that is partly because the story was so captivating I didn't want to put it down - but the editing kept pulling me out of the story.
So I highly recommend people wait until the ebook fixes have been announced, and buy it in that version. The story was worth the frustration, but I sure hope this isn't the new normal.