The Rogue Countess by Amy Sandas
Historial romance released by Samhain Publishing on July 24, 2012
A passion neither of them wanted…and neither can deny.
Anna Locke was once young, naïve and infatuated with the handsome Jude Sinclair. Until the charismatic “gentleman” showed his true colors by abandoning her on their wedding day.
In the years since, she has transformed herself into a confident, successful woman, independent of her errant husband’s aristocratic family in every way but name. When Jude unexpectedly returns demanding a divorce, she quashes the butterflies he still elicits, and resolves to show him she won’t be so easily cast aside.
Jude has come home to assume the responsibilities left to him upon his father’s death, and to finally end the marriage into which he was tricked. To his surprise, Anna is no longer an awkward, skinny girl with a furtive gaze. She has become a lush, enigmatic vixen with dark eyes that shield secrets she seems determined to keep.
In their intimate war of wills, the heat of bold desire flares into passion—and casts light on a shared past tangled in lies and blackmail. But until Jude can win her trust and learn the truth, there will be no destroying the obstacles that loom darkly between them…and the love that should have been theirs.
Warning: This title contains a shockingly revealing sapphire gown, highly improper behavior at a masquerade, a tangled web of deception, and perhaps most scandalous of all, a fiery passion that flares to life between a husband and wife who have been estranged since their wedding day.
What would you do if at 16, the people you were to trust the most betray you for their own gain, which destroys multiple lives and before you could even say a word, the one person you hoped could save you abandons you for the next 8 years and pretends you don’t exist? You’d plan your revenge too!
Anna, know 26 has lived the last few years of her life they way she wants to. She calls herself Mrs. Locke And distances herself as far from her husband’s family as possible. She’s intelligent, resourceful, and much to her mother in law’s dismay in TRADE. But underneath her harden and worldly exterior is a vulnerable girl who wishes to be wanted, loved and protected. Something she never felt as a child and had hoped to gain in her marriage.
Jude was an angry boy who grew up into a scorned man. Leaving his new wife on the house steps immediately after the wedding, he spent the next few years roaming Europe and trying to forget the betrayal of his family and the witch he refuses to call a wife. He has returned to England after learning of his fathers death more mature and ready to pick up his responsibilities, as soon as he rids himself of the woman he sees as ruining his life.
This is one of the best debut novels I have read and I had to double check that this was a debut novel. The writing and polish is one expected of a much more seasoned writer. The author tackled this estrangement plot line and difficult characters (especially the sister) with aplomb and grit. Each character in the novel, even the more minor ones, were complex and not one dimensional. Not only could I imagine meeting people like the characters in real life, I have met people like them. They have their flaws and their walls. But it is how the author goes about opening up the characters to their own flaws and tunneling under each others walls that makes this story so good.
It was refreshing to come across a story where no one should blame either Anne or Jude for how they feel about their marriage. Neither party is at fault for anything other than being to immature and to hurt to see the situation from any perspective than their own. Each has had plenty of time to build up the idea of whom the other is that is shattered to pieces starting with their very first interactions. The author reaches a fine balance of the couples’ antics between mischievousness, annoying the other, and getting attention, without spite, harm, or childishness. You will not forget Anne and her whip. From there the author manages to create a realistic and creative story that continues to throw these two in each others path allowing the final vestiges of their preconceived notions to disappear but gives them, especially Anne , a chance to believe in love and each other. For both revenge turns out to be very sweet indeed. Like most romance novels, the characters around the couple see so much more clearly than the hero/heroine do and give them little nudges as needed.
While the author moved the plot line via internal conflict of the main characters and a lack of open discussions between the two. She did so in a way that actually works and doesn’t make you want to slap someone for stupidity. It is not even pride that keeps these two apart, but a external threat and in my eyes a very effective plot ploy that works within the psyche and construct of the characters.
An excellent debut romance that should not be missed