Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hellie Confesses: I Took Too Darn Long to Pick Up This Book

I have adored Julie Anne Long's books since WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE, and her newest one, A NOTORIOUS COUNTESS CONFESSES is no exception.

It is exceptional, however.

Adam Sylvaine, the vicar in Pennyroyal Green, is an exceptional hero. He's just an honest-to-goodness kind man. The type of Christian you would want to be a vicar; the kind of Christian you wish more Christians would be like. I wasn't sure I would like him too much, because nice Christian men tend to bore me with the fornication front--and the heroine, a former courtesan and now widowed countess, isn't really the type to put up with prudish behavior. But Adam isn't prudish--he's just a flesh-and-blood godly man who can't help loving the one woman in Pennyroyal Green he should not fall in love with.

Meanwhile, the poor widowed Countess Wareham has come to Pennyroyal Green because...well, she's broke and she needs to make a new life for herself. She tries to blend in--at first--but her dubious reputation has followed her and all the women of the town shun her. It takes the work of the vicar to step in and help her make friends with the lady's group--and they reluctantly let her in their circle after she passes a few critical, hilarious tests.

This book is loaded with secondary characters who add to the book rather than cause a distraction, but they don't overwhelm the hero and heroine, who keep the reader on her toes, wondering if they're going to kiss or not...or more. Because every time those two get into a room, the temperature goes up twenty degrees when they look at each other. I found myself fanning myself as I read the book. But before anyone can go up in flames, something horrible happens--usually hilariously horrible--and you're torn between sighing happily or laughing your butt off.

But that isn't why I'm recommending the book. No. It's not those things. It's the end--the end where the moment was so BLACK it was coal and I wanted to know how this is going to happen--and the scene in the church was the reason for this book. I cried. It could have gotten real preachy and awkward--there was some Bible quoting going on--but it wasn't. It was perfect. Well done, Ms. Long!

I think Adam Sylvaine was the best hero of 2012--and if you haven't had a chance to read this book yet, please put it at the top of your list. I cannot wait for the next installment--and I'm still rooting for Olivia and Lyon. Oh, how do I love me a series!

Who's the best hero you've read this last year? What are you reading this week?

20 comments:

Maureen said...

At the moment I'd have to say the guy who married Jenny Lawson. (Been reading nonfiction this week. The funnier, the better.)

Janga said...

Hellie, you know I'm a huge Julie Anne Long fan. She went on my autobuy list with her first book, and I've been raving about her work ever since. A Notorious Countess Confesses is among her best, and I totally agree with you about Adam Sylvaine. Long not only made him a major sigh-worthy hero, but she also made him a true, fully human representative of the best of his profession.

Today I'm reading an ARC of the first book in a new, contemporary bad boy series by an author you love--The Summer He Came Home by Juliana Stone.

MsHellion said...

Mo, *LOL* I might have to agree with you there: the best REAL LIFE hero of 2012. *LOL* That woman is hilarious!

MsHellion said...

Contemporary bad boy? *swoons* Oh, you know how I love those. (I think my favorite contemporary bad boy was a book called BILLY BOB WALKER GOT MARRIED by Lisa G. Brown. That black moment is such a sob fest...truly that character felt like a flesh and blood person.)

Will have to seek out this one!

Terri Osburn said...

Sadly, I can't remember what I've read in the last year. Brain is still mush. But I love seeing you gush so much. A vicar, huh? Sounds like a really fun read. Ms. Long is another I haven't gotten to yet, but my goal is to read more in 2013.

When, I've no idea. But I'm going to try!

MsHellion said...

Terri, you can't remember what you've read last year because mostly it's been edits and your contract for your book! *LOL* You did read something though, because you covered the Review Day at least once.

Actually I have a thing for vicars. Good ones. Like Adam. There was one I read back in the early 90s--it was a Silhouette Desire or something, had rainbows in the title--and the heroine was an ex-model (sorta like the courtesan in reputation) and the hero was a preacher (very much like Adam)--and it was really well done. I wish I still had the book and/or could remember the name. *sighs* So this book...it was like a historical version of it, but even better. Funny...and sweet.

Janga said...

Hellie, Billy Bob Walker Got Married is one of the best contemporary romances ever. I wish Lisa G. Brown would offer digital copies of it and her other books. I'd sure do my part to recommend them to all those readers who have never discovered her.

I did recommend Billy Bob to Eloisa James, who then included the book in one of her B & N columns. Just think how many copies might have sold from that column mention if only the ebook had been available.

MsHellion said...

I wish the e-copy of her books were available. Billy Bob Walker Got Married was a phenomenal book, but I also adored Crazy For Lovin' You (I think that was the title)--a dark hero, but oh, how she redeemed him. True redemption books. Both of them. I have them on my shelves (somewhere), but I wish they were more widely available.

Marnee Bailey said...

I want to pick up both of these books. I haven't read them yet. I'm putting them on my list.

And best hero of 2012? Seriously, now I'm intrigued.

I'm trying to think of good heroes now. I need to think more about this....

MsHellion said...

Marn, there are lots of great/good heroes. I mean, I think they are why we read these books to begin with. We love seeing a man thrown into the fiery pit of love and come out a better man. But I think Adam was a particularly exceptional guy, because he is very thoughtful about what he says and does--he doesn't want to hurt anyone--so he is not much for ironic comments and the like. And he's quick with apology...he's just...a great guy. He doesn't seem to come with the sort of baggage the rest of us have, who have been burned by love and let that color our relationships going into new ones...he's just straight forward. He's honest, but not hurtful.

Terri Osburn said...

So does he start out perfect or does he have something he has to learn? Sounds like there's no arc for him.

And yes, my own heroes don't seem willing to let me dwell much on anyone else's. I did like Sam from Kleypas' Rainshadow Road. Oh, and Des from Tracy Brogan's Crazy Little Thing.

And I think I reviewed both of those here. LOL! I think Mo's mention up there would win for most patient hero.

MsHellion said...

He does have an arc. I think in a sense, he's so used to "not having feelings" (in the carnal sense) that it's a PROBLEM when he meets the heroine. *LOL* Not that he never experienced stuff before, but he could ignore it...and she can't be ignored. They spark whenever they're around each other.

So his arc grows around adjusting to his feelings for her; the prejudice of the township in concern to the heroine (because some of their prejudices are some of his--he just tries not to indulge them, tries not to judge, but they're still there to a degree.) So there's some tension with the history of the heroine that causes some conflict with them, even as he's trying to be decent about it.

There's a secondary character--an old woman--who makes an interesting foil to the hero. She is a pillar of the society, but she confesses this huge scandal to the vicar, which shocks him though he tries to cover it. Anyway, once that story is out, he is a bit perplexed by the thought of being "carried away" by love. So in a way he grows from that.

Terri Osburn said...

I just realized there is no link to the book in the blog. Now I want to go check it out but I'm too lazy to search. We need a link! LOL!

MsHellion said...

Corrected. Thanks for pointing that out. I certainly don't want to deter any lazy readers. *LOL*

Di R said...

I haven't read a Long book in a long time. I don't know why-hmm. I'll have to remedy that. I know I enjoyed the ones that I did read.

This week I'm reading Firelight by Kristen Callihan, her deep POV and description is amazing.

Di

Terri Osburn said...

Just looked her up, Di. That looks really good. The entire series does. Very dark. How have we never heard of her?!

Di R said...

One of my cp's told me about her. Every week she would ask me if I had gotten it yet. She isn't normally that insistent,so I finally gave in. Then I kicked myself for not listening to her sooner.

Di

Trudy said...

I'm reading Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series and have read all of them so far. It's based on the secret guard Robert the Bruce supposedly had surrounding him in his quest to oust the English from Scotland and unite the country. The members were drawn from each of the Highland clans and specifically trained for their jobs. Heroes, yes. Alpha males, yes. Stuff of dreams, most certainly.

MsHellion said...

Di, I'll have to look at Firelight...and the series. I nag CPs to read books...occasionally they read them and always agree I was right. :)

MsHellion said...

Trudy, I *ADORE* McCarty's HIGHLAND GUARD series. Every time I get a new one in the series, I rave about it here. Those heroes are SO SWOONY!! (I think I like Erik the best--he's the one with the boat, smiles and laughs all the time, and is a bit of a pirate. For completely unbiased reasons, he's my favorite. :)