Monday, June 20

Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee

Book 1 in the Daughters of Erin Series

Eliza Blacknall and William Denton were childhood friends, and over time their childish tricks slowly blossoming into an adolescent crush. But Eliza is pressured into marrying Lord Mount Clare and Will, a younger son, leaves their Ireland home for the English army, hoping to make his way in the world. Eliza is heartbroken at his decision to wear that infamous red coat, which has long symbolized Ireland’s oppression in her mind.

Years later, Eliza is a widow writing patriotic letters to United Irish papers. William is returning to the island as a Major, sent to squelch any Irish rebellion. When he discovers Eliza’s patriotic papers, he is torn between his duty and his love for her that has never died. Eliza finds herself similarly torn, between her love for her blessed Ireland and her love for William Denton. As sparks fly between rebel and English forces everywhere, the flames of Eliza and Will’s love ignite into a dangerous passion (yes, ladies, I did write that).

What did I like about this book? Every single character was completely true to themself, all the time. Eliza was passionate about Ireland, and Will was passionate about her – and his duty, leading to a bit of confusion on his part. Their love was comfortable but intense. There was no passionate build-up or chase, but I was alright with that seeing as they had been best friends. It was a story of love unrequited getting a second chance amidst a bloody war.

The romantic plot, I thought, was well done. It was, admittedly, very predictable – they got together about a quarter of the way through the book and then kept getting together afterwards. But I thought it was very sweet, and despite the lack of a ‘chase’, thoroughly enjoyed their romance. As far as the war plot, I thought McKee did an excellent job making the reader understand the horror and violence of the time, which was key. The only thing that could’ve been better is if Eliza had done a few more patriotic things at the end of the book. She started off with patriotic writings and meetings and all of a sudden everything she’d been doing seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

The book could’ve used a better resolution, though I think that might come with the ending of the series (after the second and third books, which I’m now desperate to read). Overall it was a decent book and a great second-chances love story that was tender, sweet, and romantic.

Favorite quotes:

There was little to distract him in that barren space—a few chairs and some unsmiling portraits of past government officials. Their painted images still looked most disgruntled at being asked to control this wild, barbaric land. Or perhaps they had just encountered a stubborn ancestor of Eliza Blacknall’s.

“And now that I’m a rogue Irish duke, everything is safe and well?” (Duke of Adair)

“Are you trying to kill me?” (a wounded Denton)
“Yes,” she answered. “But first we dug out the bullet and stitched you back up again. Just for the merriment of it.” (Eliza)

“Sexy”ness rating: Sweetly tender and fiercely passionate

Overall Rating: B

Bottom Line: I loved this story because of the character development. Each character was unique and true to his or herself. The plot was intriguing and well-developed with good set-up for the next book, as long as you’re okay with violence in the plot (it is a war, after all). I loved the best-friends-now-lovers romantic plot. *Sighs* How sweet.

Pages: 326
Published:  February 2010
Genre: Historical (set in Ireland)

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