cover image The Reluctant Countess

The Reluctant Countess

Eloisa James. Avon, $9.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-313957-2

Scandalous family secrets aren’t enough to animate the flimsy second Would-be Wallflowers Regency romance from bestseller James (after How to Be a Wallflower). French Lady Yasmin Régnier, 25, is often the subject of gossip: her mother was Napoleon’s mistress and, at 16, she herself was duped into a fake marriage to a fortune hunter. Society cannot completely shun her, however, as her grandfather was a duke. Giles Renwick, British Earl of Lilford, is similarly whispered about, as his mother’s promiscuity throws the paternity of Giles and his sister, Lydia, into question. Still, like his peers, Giles keeps Yasmin at a distance—but for him, it’s more out of fear of his intense attraction to her than disdain for her checkered past. No longer able to resist, he proposes marriage, taking Yasmin, who’s long believed him to hate her, quite by surprise. As Giles works to prove his love, impetuous Lydia works to sabotage the couple. Lydia’s strenuous objections to the match feel entirely hypocritical—her own actions are just as likely to bring scandal as an association with Yasmin would—and her mean-spirited antics distract from the romance. The couple has chemistry to spare, making the weak obstacles to their happiness all the more frustrating. This misses the mark. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (Nov.)