Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Captain Durant's Countess by Maggie Robinson (ARC)

One of the many ripples caused by The London List:
Reyn Durant saw an ad in the newspaper and decided to answer it. The money being offered was good and would help Reyn take care of his ailing younger sister.

But the job he was hired to do is most unusual: he's been hired to help the Earl and Countess of Kelby produce an heir. The Earl of Kelby is old and he doesn't want his nephew David to inherit -- he has asked his younger wife, Maris to help him secure the Kelby Collection and legacy.

Maris's love and devotion to her husband compels her to agree to his scheme -- but when she meets Reyn Durant, he makes her think twice about her complicity.

Reyn hadn't wanted to push through with the agreement and was willing to return the advance he received for the job -- but, upon meeting the Countess of Kelby and hearing her plea, he decides to accept the job.

What was supposed to be purely business becomes utterly pleasurable as Maris experiences the bliss of being with the perfect lover for the first time in her life. And Reyn is stunned at the innocent passion he receives from Maris -- and realizes what it means to "make love" for the first time in his life.

In Maggie Robinson's new series, she seems to be pairing off very unlikely couples and putting them in very challenging circumstances:

Maris is married but needs an heir to help her husband protect his life's work. She's scholarly and reserved, country-born and bred. Reyn is a man of the world and had just sold his commission. He's worldly and isn't at all interested in books and such.

But, as I read through this book, somehow, the two of them just worked well together -- like yin and yang, they complemented each other nicely. I think this is what makes the story work for me, the conversations between Maris and Reyn are very equal: each one gains something from the exchange.

Maris didn't hear the crunch of Reynold Durant's boots on the stone path until he was right above her, thrusting a handkerchief at her face. She took it gratefully, wiped the wet from her face and then blew her nose with all the grace of a trumpeting elephant. Just another reason to be mortified.

"You'd better tell me, he said quietly, "although I think I can guess."

"I'm too ashamed."


"I'm listening. Take your time."

She hardly knew Reynold Durant. Oh, that was absurd. She'd allowed him into her body for the past two days. The handsome stranger who sat beside her knew more about her than her own husband did after ten years of marriage. A limited knowledge, yes, but a profound one.

She hiccuped to hold back a wave of hopeless laughter. She was becoming hysterical at the absurd situation she found herself in. "If you've guessed, you tell me."

He raised a wooly brow. "No, indeed. I'm not going to make it easy for you. Confession is good for the soul, I hear. I'll not rob you of the relief of it. It's been hard for you to keep it in, hasn't it?"

Damn him. He was supposed to be ignorant, wasn't he?
- loc 1868 to 1878

But the situation they find themselves in is difficult. Of the two, it is Maris's problem that needs to be sorted and Maggie Robinson provides the solution in a wonderful, plausible (albeit abrupt) way.

The story did leave me with two unresolved niggles:
1. Why did the Earl of Kelby select Reyn? It isn't mentioned how many applicants applied for the position? But I wonder what the Earl (and Evie of The London List) saw in Reyn to make them trust him with his wife and the future of his family name.

2. I felt that David was de-fanged so quickly in the end. All throughout the story, he was portrayed as something monstrous and unfeeling -- but, in the end, it seemed that he was handled easily and with very little fuss.

Captain Durant's Countess is the second installment in Maggie Robinson's The London List series. It will be released exclusively in digital format on February 21, 2013.

To find out more about Maggie Robinson and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

Disclosure: I received the ARC through Netgalley. (Thank you to Kensington for accepting my request.) Yes, this is an honest review.


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