by Laurel McKee
368 pages, Grand Central Publishing--Historical Romance
Review by Kwana Jackson
I was thrilled when the mailman dropped off a surprise package of ARC’s from Hatchette Books and not just a pile of bills during a recent mail drop. And I was even more thrilled when in that batch was an ARC of Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee. Full disclosure here: I had been looking forward to reading Countess of Scandal, since I’m a friend and fan of Laurel’s alter ego, author Amanda McCabe.
Here is the blurb for Countess of Scandal, which is book 1 in the Daughters of Erin Trilogy:
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.
Now Ireland during a bloody rebellion may not seem like the most romantic setting for a book, but Ms. McKee did a wonderful job weaving romance and heartbreak with tenderness and beauty in this sweeping story.
Eliza is a strong-willed heroine brought up in privilege, but with a heart softened by patriotism and an intense compassion for her poor Irish countrymen. She also has a love for Will, the second son of an aristocrat who is bound by duty to his family and to England. He’s called to fight against the Irish rebels even though it means going against Eliza’s wishes and losing her love.
The story picks up when Will and Eliza meet again five years after Will bought a commission in the army despite Eliza’s feelings against it. Eliza is now grown and a widow, working in secret for the rebels, and Will is a major in the army representing everything that Eliza is fighting against. The trouble is, she can’t fully hate Will even as she tries so hard to.
Will is torn. He knows caring for Eliza is dangerous but he can’t help himself. He never stopped loving her and seeing her again only fuels the fire. Besides she needs him to keep her safe. Things are becoming more dangerous than ever and it’s no longer a secret what Eliza is up to as Will discovers she’s being watched by more than just him. He feels he has to get her to listen to reason and stop what she’s doing; all the while, Eliza is campaigning to get Will to see her way of things.
It seems the two can only agree on one thing, how passionately they love each other, both in the bedroom and out. They are a well matched pair. Will, the dashing solder, strong and determined, and Eliza, the beautiful Countess, but equally as strong and determined.
There are tense moments of intrigue and scary scenes of war, when the lovers and their families are running for their lives--a twist you don’t normally see in romances, but which I enjoyed, as it brought grounding and realism to the story.
There was also a very nice set-up for the next two books in the series, as there are many more battles to fight and Eliza has two other sisters, Anna and Caroline, to round out the trilogy.
I look forward to the next book in the series Duchess of Sin.
You can read more about The Daughters of Erin and Countess of Scandal here at: http://ammandamccabe.com/mckee/index.htm
All the best,