The Reluctant Countess: A Novel

The Reluctant Countess: A Novel

by Wendy Vella

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345540072
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/14/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 302
Sales rank: 737,891
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Wendy Vella is a lover of all things romantic and a sucker for a happy ending. She has been married to her own dark brooding hero for twenty-eight years and shares her home with two wonderful children, two dogs, and anyone else who happens to visit. Born and raised in a rural area in the North Island of New Zealand, Wendy loves the beaches and lush green rolling hills of her homeland.

Read an Excerpt

“If only she had a small imperfection.”
“What?” Patrick, Earl of Coulter, tore his eyes from the top of the stairs to glare at his friend.
“The countess.” Lord Sumner swept his hand in an arc that encompassed most of the assembled guests. “I was saying that some sort of imperfection would detract from her goddesslike beauty. Perhaps a lisp? Alas, no,” he added seconds later. “A lisp would merely make her sweet and beautiful.”
“Idiot,” the earl muttered, propping one shoulder against the silk-covered wall. His gaze returned to where the countess now stood. Poised on the top step of the Duke of Rookvale’s ballroom, she appeared motionless; only her eyes moved as they passed over the guests milling below.
“Perhaps a mole with several long dark hairs,” Lord Sumner mused, “on the end of her little nose?”
Patrick watched the countess descend. Tonight her raven locks were piled high and clasped with a single diamond pin; several long curls had been artfully teased to lie on one slender shoulder. Created to torment, her dress was cut low in the bodice, allowing a glimpse of the lush curves that lay beneath, and with every step she took the skirts caressed her legs in a swirl of emerald satin. Patrick dreamt about those legs—naked and wrapped around his body. Even from a distance, his muscles clenched at the thought of her lying beneath him, skin gleaming, lips red from his kisses. Bloody woman. From the first glance, she had taken up residence in his head, and he wanted her out. Patrick didn’t obsess over women—he took what he wanted when he wanted it. Usually his affairs were brief yet satisfactory for both parties and he was always the one in control. The countess, however, was another matter. Something about her reached out to him and he wanted her with a desperation no other had made him feel. Yet he would never act on that desperation because the countess was a fraud, and there was nothing Patrick hated more than people who set out to deliberately deceive others.
“Did you just growl, Coulter?”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Patrick snapped, following the countess’s progress until she reached the bottom step. Once again she became motionless. It was as if she held her breath, yet those eyes moved in every direction, seeking, searching, but for what?
“To be her lady’s maid for just one day,” Lord Sumner sighed.
Reluctantly, Patrick pulled his eyes from the countess once more to look at the man who lounged beside him. Stephen Sumner had been Patrick’s friend since childhood, and knew him better than anyone.
“The woman’s a fraud.” Patrick was subjected to a fierce glare as he finished speaking.
“For pity’s sake, Colt,” Stephen said, reverting to the nickname Patrick had been given in his school days. “Just because she has not fallen prostrate at your oversized feet whilst declaring her undying love, does not mean she is a fraud. Surely you have tasted rejection before.”
“She has not rejected me!” Patrick snapped. Even knowing Stephen was baiting him did not ease his ire. That bloody woman always set him on edge.
“Excellent,” Stephen said. “We know how fragile your ego is.”
“I have no idea why I keep you as a friend.” Patrick shook his head. As Stephen began to speak, he lifted a hand to stall him.
“Three days before the Earl of Monmouth passed away, I paid him a visit at Monmouth Hall. He was in his bed, clearly near death, but still lucid.” He paused to make sure Stephen understood exactly what he was saying. “There was no Countess of Monmouth at that time, Stephen, no wife and most definitely no son.”
“What are you saying, Patrick? That she is some sort of imposter?” Running a hand through his golden locks, Stephen shot his friend an irritated look. “Why must you always suspect people of wrongdoing? Maybe she was away from the estate? Good lord, Colt! The old man was absent from society for years, lived like a recluse. He could have married a whole bevy of beauties and we would have been none the wiser.”
Shaking his head, Stephen continued before Patrick could interrupt. “Your investigating days are over, and for what it’s worth, I for one like the lady and cannot see her capable of treachery or deceit.”
Patrick snorted, his disbelief obvious. “You are too trusting, Sumner. There was no wife, I tell you. The old earl’s man of affairs was there, and that obsequious weasel of a nephew who was due to inherit his fortune, but there was no mention of a countess.”
“Well, good for her. If she got that old goat to marry her before he passed away, I’d say she deserved his money.” Stephen followed Patrick’s gaze back to where the countess now stood. “The woman is obviously a lady, so let it be, Patrick; no good can come of your meddling.”
“Me, meddle? I’m insulted.” The wounded expression on Patrick’s face belied the wicked twinkle in his eyes.
Laughing at the foul comment Stephen hissed in his ear, Patrick lifted both hands in surrender, his demeanor once again serious.
“All I’m saying is that I quite liked that ‘old goat’ as you so delicately put it, and because I was one of the last to see him alive I feel in some way connected to him. Something about the countess does not seem right, and if she is a charlatan I will expose her as one.”
“Well, if you want to investigate further I suggest you make haste to put your name on her dance card, as her circle is forming,” Stephen urged.
With a look of distaste, Patrick eyed the men moving to intercept the countess and then pushed off the wall to join their ranks.

Customer Reviews

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The Reluctant Countess (Loveswept) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
No need for smelling salts for this fresh Regency Romance! Wendy Vella has taken her paintbrush to a popular, often-done genre and colored it hot, fresh, amazing! Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, a young widow with a toddler takes London by storm with her beautiful face, cool demeanor and the mystery surrounding her background. Patrick, Earl of Coulter, is instantly attracted, yet repelled by this woman who no one has ever heard of. The electricity is sharp between these two strong personalities, neither willing to give an inch in their battle of wills. Sophie has much to lose if her secrets are ever discovered. Patrick wants to know everything about the first woman to truly steal his heart. Unlike so many Regency Romances, the heroine is not running willy-nilly, muddling things in an effort to be independent. Sophie faces everyone and everything head on with dignity and strength, well, all but anything regarding Patrick! Patrick, in turn, is not a wild rake running amok until he rushes headlong into Sophie. His conquests are not legion, and although he feels the need to protect Sophie, he doesn't go overboard. This is probably going to be one of my all time favorite historical romances, especially since 'the love stuff' was resolved before the last page, leaving time for the 'bad stuff' to play out in great detail and surprise! I absolutely loved the side story involving Sophie and Patrick's best friends, too! This ARC copy of The Reluctant Countess was given to me by NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell in exchange for an honest review. Publish Date January 14, 2013.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Reluctant Countess by Wendy Vella Publisher: Loveswept Publication Date: January 14, 2013 Rating: 4 stars Source: Ecopy provided by the publisher ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart. Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society. Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever. Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: The Escape Diaries, The Devil’s Thief, and The Magic. What I Liked: OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! AHHHH!!!!! Seriously though. Nowadays, I rarely have the time to re-read books. But this book? I have read and re-read it like, LITERALLY, 10 times or more. The whole thing. One to a few days in between each read. I love this book THAT MUCH. Let me start with the story itself. The plot is so simple, but it gets pretty twisty and interesting as the reader goes on. Right from the start, we know that Patrick and Sophie have some serious chemistry, but we also know that Patrick suspects something of Sophie. That is basically the first half of the book. The second half of the book deals with what Patrick suspected of Sophie, and how that situation is handled. Trust me, that sounds boring and silly, but I loved the plot of this book. I could probably tell you what happens in every scene, in order. This book is addicting. The characters - Sophie and Patrick. I really like Sophie; she is sweet and down-to-earth, but she fits in well in society. She plays her role as an artistocratic lady well, and yet she remembers her place that she held before she came upon the position she holds. I really, REALLY like Patrick. He is everything that an alpha male is, and if not, should be. He is handsome (hot!), swoony, brooding, tempermental yet gentle, protectice, oh-so-ripped, and a perfect gentleman. I think he is an excellent hero, and a perfect complement to Sophie. They are such a great couple! So, love triangle? No. Not in the serious sense. Sophie and Patrick are the primary couple.  You all know how much I LOVE historical fiction, especially historical romance. Well. THIS is exactly why I love historical romance. This book is definitely one of my favorite (if not, my FAVORITE) historical romance books I have read. The ending is SO PERFECT. For those of you who like happily-ever-afters (like me!), you will enjoy the ending of this book. Actually, you will enjoy the entire book! What I Did Not Like: Honestly, the second half of the book was not as enticing and interesting as the first half. After Patrick and Sophie, um, get together (I don't want to ruin anything for anyone!), there is a certain point in the book where it is still amazing (really! I promise!), but it's not the same high-level quality in terms of the romance, and in a way, the events of the plot. I love the first half of the book. I like the second half of the book. But that's my only complaint. And it is not that big of a deal. Did I mention how many times I re-read this book? Ten plus, and counting. I am also not a huge fan of the cover, but that is not really up to the author. I'm just saying.  Would I Recommend It: YES YES YES! You would be doing yourself a favor if you bought this book and read it. Seriously, any of you romance, historical fiction, and/or historical romance lovers out there will LOVE this book. Trust me! Rating: 4 stars. I really, really liked this book! Historical fiction and romance is usually a great combination, and this author pulled off her story superbly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay story, but unhealthy relationship. I know that this is a basic romance novel, but it has such an unhealthy relationship! He is domineering and controlling. In addition, in his narrative, he feels that it is her fault that he loses control and must have sex with her, WITHOUT HER CONSENT. He is an over-protective, arrogant jerk who doesn't understand that she is a person with a will of her own. Would not recommend.
NavyWave62 More than 1 year ago
THE STORY GETS BETTER AS YOU PROGRESS!! It took me awhile to feel a connection to our H/h, but when I did, it was a wonderful way to pass the time. This is one story that needed an Epilogue, it doesn't end in a cliffhanger (which I hate), but ended with me wanting to know what happens a year or so down the rode. When I feel like that it is because I feel in love with the character's. Love wasn't easy coming and the journey is worth your time to read this unique story. The lovemaking was very well written, full of passion and just the right amount of description. This is my 4th book by Wendy Vella, and I love her style of writing. The secondary character's were a joy too. (ljb)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author has potential. Good storyline but at times story took on a child like tone. Finished. Cute but predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend.
FranJessca More than 1 year ago
"The Reluctant Countess" is from the upcoming new Author, Wendy Vella, who definitely makes a great and memorable entrance into the regency historical romance genre .  I fell in love with her writing style and the characters she wrote in "The Reluctant Countess".  Wendy actually made me feel like I was back in that time frame and how I wish some guys from this era would take notes from how men should treat women.  (*just saying*) Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is trying everything to keep her secret from coming out, but it is kind of hard when you have the sexy Earl of Coulter, Patrick, always there asking questions and making her feel flustered.  Sophie has a deep secret and with the help of her sister-in-law, she is trying everything to have it from coming out during the season.  The Earl knows something is up with the Countess and it is up to him to find out what it is....although in the meantime, he is finding it is hard to resist Sophie and when the truth finally comes out, he wants to be there for her and protect her. Sophie is not only dealing with keeping her secret from coming out, but trying to keep her brother and herself safe from her past.  She also has the Viscount to worry about, who he feels he was tricked out of getting what he deserved. "The Reluctant Countess" takes you into the world of where romance can overcome anything, especially when two characters come from different classes.  Wendy gives you a different kind of Cinderella story that will have you wanting that happily ever after for the characters and wanting to find out who wants Sophie killed. I loved Patrick for his determinedness to win over Sophie even when he found out the truth.  He definitely loved her from the beginning, but just took him a minute to find it out for himself.  Sophie had a little trouble trusting Patrick, but she had her reasons for what she went through. I also enjoyed Wendy's secondary characters who kept a very interesting storyline for themselves as well. I look forward to reading more books from Wendy Vella in the near future.  This regency romance will have you wanting your own Earl of least I know I do now.  =) I received a complimentary copy of "The Reluctant Countess" from Netgalley (courtesy of the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved getting lost in this story! Uncovering the story of Sophie was so great Ive this book twice so far. I enjoy the balls, clothes and watch Patricks love fot her grow. Easy... interesting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed everything about this book and would recc it to everyone who loves romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good. Interesting plot.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly entertaining recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little different than what i have read before.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable read loved the characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Truly engrossing story line and engaging characters. Can't wait for the next in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful as always and always your books are one I never want to put down even in the wee hours of the night. Wonderful Delightful and a pleasure to read what you write. Worth every penny and more, so if you are looking to read this book then sit down relax and enjoy. Ms.D from bronx,NY
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd never read a book by this author, but am a fan of this genre. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like it when you are given the thoughts of both the hero and the heroine. Moved/started a bit too quickly. But I could easily get passed that. Periferal characters were also good. The story lacked some depth, but was still entertaining. A quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sophie was trying to help the people she loved. Patrick thought he would expose her secrets until he got to know her. This was a really good book and I am looking forward to reading more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book!! Hope to see more of her work.