The Harlot Countess by Joanna Shupe

December 18, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

The Harlot Countess by Joanna ShupeThe Harlot Countess by Joanna Shupe
Series: Wicked Deceptions #2
Published by Zebra Books on April 28, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Maggie, Lady Hawkins, had a debut she'd rather forget--along with her first marriage. Today, the political cartoonist is a new woman. A thoroughly modern woman. So much so that her clamoring public believes she's a man...
FACT:  Drawing under a male pseudonym, Maggie is known as Lemarc. Her (his!) favorite object of ridicule: Simon Barrett, Earl of Winchester. He's a rising star in Parliament--and a former confidant and love interest of Maggie's who believed a rumor that vexes her to this day.

FICTION:  Maggie is the Half-Irish Harlot who seduced her best friend's husband on the eve of their wedding. She is to be feared and loathed as she will lift her skirts for anything in breeches.

Still crushed by Simon's betrayal, Maggie has no intention of letting the ton crush her as well. In fact, Lemarc's cartoons have made Simon a laughingstock...but now it appears that Maggie may have been wrong about what happened years ago, and that Simon has been secretly yearning for her since...forever. Could it be that the heart is mightier than the pen and the sword after all?

Maggie, now Lady Hawkins, had what was possibly the worst come out in all of London’s history – an unwanted attack in the gardens turned into a “lover’s tryst” by the scheming knave branded Maggie as “The Half-Irish Harlot.”  And when her beau Simon Barrett believed the knave’s lies and turned his back on Maggie, she flees into a loveless marriage with the first man who will marry her.  Ten years later, the nickname still burns on society’s tongue wherever Maggie goes.  But now she embraces the freedom the nickname – and her widowhood – provide her and little does society know, but she is behind the infamous political cartoonist, Lemarc, poking fun at both society’s hypocrisies and rising politicians like Simon.

Maggie is one of the strongest heroines I’ve read.  Despite years of cruel taunts, gossips, and not-so-subtle whispers, Maggie has held her head up high and presented the world with a brave face.  She turns a spiteful joke into an infamous persona.  Her intelligence, wit, and artistic talents earn her a very comfortable living at the expense of the very society who pretends to despise her.  She is the very definition of courage and strength.

Simon is the character with a true development arc in this novel.  His love for Maggie ten years ago was weak and he believed the lies about her.  But through actually talking to Maggie, learning her side of the story, and discovering the woman she has become, Simon’s love for her grows and develops into full maturity.  Simon is just as complicated a character as Maggie and shares her stubborn streak.

But this makes for a fantastic read!  Simon and Maggie’s chemistry sparks off the page and some of their love scenes actually made me blush!  And let me tell you, I read a lot of erotica and historical romance so that’s really hard to do.

I *loved* this book and immediately went out and bought the other two in the series, THE COURTESAN DUCHESS (book #1) and THE LADY HELLION (book #3).  Reviews for those novels will be up soon too!

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