RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee

A-

Title: Countess of Scandal
Author: Laurel McKee
Publication Info: Forever 2011
ISBN: 978-0446544788
Genre: Historical: European

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.Olivia reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge, as it was nominated in the Historical Romance category. Olivia says,“This was a great deal of fun to read and a great deal of fun to write, especially since I hate writing plot summaries and synopses more than I hate writing anything, even grocery lists.”

Book CoverPlot Summary, as thoughtfully provided by the publisher: As children, Eliza Blacknall and William Denton ran wild over the fields of southern Ireland and swore they would be friends forever. Then fate took Will away to England, while Eliza stayed behind to become a proper Irish countess.

Years later, Will finally makes his way home-as an English soldier sent to crush the Irish uprising. When he spies the lovely Eliza, he is captivated by the passionate woman she has become. But Eliza’s passions have led her to join the Irish rebel cause, and Will and Eliza now find themselves on opposite sides of a dangerous conflict.

When Ireland explodes in bloody rebellion, Will’s regiment is ordered to the front lines, and he is forced to choose between his duty to the English king and his love for Eliza and their Irish homeland.

And now, Olivia’s review:

This is a book to love for the characters, and Will and Emma are gorgeously written. They reunite after a long separation and start boinking almost immediately. I approved of this because, frankly, I approve of boinking— and it would have seemed terminally stupid of our hero and heroine to overlook the powerful mutual attraction they’ve both been nurturing for years.

Unfortunately, this is also related to my main problem with the novel: the hero and heroine’s bond is so strong that even significant political differences seem abstract in comparison. (Though the powder-keg atmosphere is lovely.) Things in Ireland during this time were bad—and you can insert the obvious joke about Penal Laws in a romance novel—but the conflict plays out in he-said-she-said debates until nearly halfway through, when people finally start fighting and dying and burning down villages.

Maybe I’m just a more bloodthirsty reader than I thought.

My only other (tiny) quibble is that the ending seemed a little too easy. These are strong characters, and they could have weathered much more trouble. Or else we’re being set up for something in the sequel. Which I’ve already gone ahead and bought.

Well played, Ms. McKee.


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  1. 1
    kkw says:

    I can’t remember if this is the one I didn’t finish because I got so bored with the Irish history lessons or the one where I was more interested in the sequel bait and largely indifferent to the main characters.  Either way it didn’t make much of an impression.  Maybe I should give it another try.

  2. 2
    Ros says:

    Who’s Emma?

  3. 3
    Noelinya says:

    I agree with you for the end, too easy and not quite what I expected from the characters. I like the unusual setting (but I hope there won’t be thousands of stories set during irish rebellion from now on)

    capcha : ahead28. Even 28 would be too much

  4. 4
    Donna says:

    I always wonder why we don’t get more Ireland stories. There’s certainly something about Scottish uprisings every third book on the shelf. I guess Ireland is just to sad and convoluted and ugly… and sad.

    spamword: perhaps69… I’m just not going there, well… I would but… shut up shut up shut up!!!!!

  5. 5
    Karenmc says:

    This was my first Laurel McKee read. After having read two blah books in a row, I found this pretty engaging, and the Irish history was very interesting and mostly new to me. I might pick up the next book (I think I got this one as an on sale ebook), though I’m trying to cut back on my book buying.

  6. 6
    Daisy says:

    I’m with kkw and Noelinya.  I read this, and even reviewed it for this place, but gave it a much lower grade because of the lack of development of the main characters’ relationship, and because of the ridiculously soft ending.

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