The Reluctant Countess by Eloisa James
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Would-Be Wallflowers, #2
Release Date: November 29, 2022
Raised in the French court, Lady Yasmin Regnier is no stranger to gossip, after all, her own mother was Napoleon’s mistress and Yasmin herself was duped by a fortune hunter at the tender age of 16. She learned to hold her head high and ignore the whispers, but when it became too much to bear, she left France and went to live with her English grandfather, the Duke of Portbellow. While the whispers followed her to England, her connections and her beauty ensure that she is not lacking invitations or suitors. But not every man falls at her feet and unfortunately for her that includes the only man who has really piqued her interest, the grumpy Earl of Lilford, who clearly doesn’t approve of her, yet always requests the first waltz, then barely speaks to her as they dance, and then ignores her after they finish. She wonders what it is about the earl that intrigues her so and what will she have to do to make him smile.
Giles Renwick, the Earl of Lilford hates that he is attracted to Lady Yasmin, she is completely wrong for him, but she makes him burn in a way that no woman ever has. He allows himself only one dance with her but seethes watching the other men dance and flirt with her, all the while telling himself that she could never be his countess. After the scandals created by his parents, Giles sets himself to a higher standard and would never do anything to tarnish his family name or endanger his younger sister’s reputation. And though she is beautiful, connected, and rich, Lady Yasmin’s reputation and manner are all wrong for him, not to mention his sister, Lady Lydia, clearly despises her and has repeatedly warned Giles to stay away from her. But even knowing all that, Giles can’t seem to walk away and soon finds himself trying to convince a reluctant Yasmin to marry him.
As always, Eloisa James delivers another well-written, nicely-paced story populated by wonderful characters. After reading the reviews for this title, I really didn’t expect to like it, but personally, I didn’t find Giles as nasty as he was portrayed in the reviews, that is not to say he wasn’t a first-class jerk to Yasmin, but neither was he the anti-hero I was expecting. Yes, he was condescending. Yes, he was rude and insulting at times. Yes, he allowed himself to be manipulated by his vile sister. But he does see the error of his ways and while he didn’t really grovel, he does apologize. So while it was not perfect, this story kept me turning pages and was filled with emotion, steamyish love scenes – that don’t all end with a satisfied heroine LOL, great secondary characters, a bit of drama, and finally a HEA with TWO epilogues. In the end, I enjoyed the story, but I was left wishing there had been a bit more follow-up with his sister and I am keeping my fingers crossed for a HEA for Silvester, the Duke of Huntington. This is the second book in the series and has ties to “The American Duchess”, but it can absolutely be read as a standalone title.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*