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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain
To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain
Publication date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: The Matchmaker Trilogy #2
Goodreads | Amazon B&N
With a set of sublimely crafted characters, magnificently plotted story, and an intensely poignant romance set in a Regency England filled with rich historical details, Theresa Romain has gained a perpetual place on my auto-buy list with To Charm a Naughty Countess. None of my praises are given lightly, and even those are insufficient for the amount of depth, feeling, and wit in this story, not in the least between our protagonists, Caroline and Michael.

The widowed Countess of Stratton, Caroline Graves, is the reigning queen of the ton. With beauty, allure, and social stratagems, she has no lack of suitors, and rather relishes the freedom her widowhood allows. She is adept at managing suitors, artfully maintaining a balance between all, yet that is all a clandestine attempt to conceal her lingering emotional attachment to one man - Michael Layward, the brilliant and reclusive Duke of Wyverne.

Michael inherited a dukedom that grew increasingly short of funds as nature - the Year Without a Summer (1816) - played havoc on his lands and crop yields, leaving him with but one method to save his deteriorating estates - marry an heiress. To do that, he must again brave the suffocating ballrooms of London, confronting those who still thought him "mad," and once again be reminded of his last visit, eleven years ago, when he and Caroline crossed paths and was never the same again. But when Caroline refuses his marriage bargain, instead offering to help him find another heiress, will they realize that their old flame was never extinguished, but was merely waiting for another spark to blaze into an inferno?

Romain takes the Second Chance trope to spectacular heights in this book, guiding two perfectly matched, equally lonely people together in a surge of blinding light, of which both possess and admire. Michael's world was shrouded in dreary shadows, of solitude and somber responsibilities, taking refuge only in his mechanical interests. His madness is in fact no more than social anxiety, but for that he was treated as an outcast (despite his title) by London society, by his father, and ultimately, by himself. Due to that, Michael has always been attracted to light - to brilliance of mind and spirit, especially the warm radiance which Caroline exudes, and her emotional intelligence. From her, he feared the loss of his reason and the burst of his restrained passions, yet he induces the same fear in Caroline, who feels too deeply, unable to stop herself from falling for the same man who broke her heart when he suddenly left London, and retreated back to his estates. 

What started out as a study of opposites between vibrant Caro and brooding Michael has quickly shifted to one of complements, fueled by a hidden desire to find love, acceptance, and understanding in each other. But whether Michael can realize he has the capacity to provide these for Caroline becomes the true conflict of this story, and one which is resolved very nicely; through Caroline's philosophical insights and social grace, she allays Michael's psychological tensions, and welcomes with open arms his believed eccentric interests, which served to free Michael's mind, allowing him to realize that he was who Caroline needed in her life. That requisite longing, in turn, blossoms into a love worthy of spring.

In the end, perhaps this story is really about having the one thing that truly completes one's life, a noble love as the canon of Michael and Caroline's lives. And as Michael emerged from his role of the eccentric Merlin to become the noble Galahad, he is ready to battle anyone, including his stubborn self, to win Caroline's love and transform his monotonous life into one of fantastic colors, incandescent from Caroline's own brilliance. Brava, Mrs. Romain, brava.

To Charm a Naughty Countess is second in Theresa Romain's Matchmaker Trilogy, and I cannot wait to read the last book, Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress

*Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley; yes it’s an honest review


My friends, if you liked or found this review helpful, I would REALLY appreciate your giving a vote for my review on Amazon. It helps other readers see my reviews and I hope that will in turn help them better decide in buying a book.

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  1. Now I really want to read this book! Great review, Mary!

    1. Thanks, Tin! I highly recommend it :)

  2. Awesome review Mary! Can't wait to read this book!

    1. Thanks Zeee! :) I hope you enter the giveaway too ^_^

  3. Ooo an auto buy author now? I've not tried her yet but sounds like I really must soon. She's got such a gorgeous cover too which is always a plus to me :) Thanks for the heads up Mary!

    1. You really must read her, Anna! :)

  4. I loved your review, and would love to read this. It sounds really delicious. I've "liked" your review on Amazon. Thank you for the chance to win. :-)

    1. I hope you saw the giveaway page where Theresa is giving away all 5 of her books! :)

      Aww, thanks so much, Diane. ^_^ I and many of my reviewer friends loved this, so I hope you will enjoy this too.

  5. Great review, Mary! I'm totally picking it up now. :)

  6. Great review! I have been hearing a lot of good things about this book and I can't wait to read it. Love the cover.

    lead AT hotsheet DOT com

  7. Kathy Heare WattsMay 16, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Great Review and I would love to read this! The cover on this book is beautiful. Congratulations on the stunning review. I also love trilogies or series books!
    Redrabbitt (at) aol (dot) com

  8. This sounds like and excellent read and I love historical romances! The blogs I follow don't post Historical romances very often, so I was surprised and pleased to see this posted. And yes I will be following your post :-)

  9. I love historical romance books. I liked the synopsis of this book.

  10. I love second chances! Definitely adding this series to my TBR list now!



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