by Joanna Novins

January 2004
ISBN: 0-425-19387-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Mass Market Paperback

1792 France, the French Revolution sees Alexandre Charlotte De La Brou on the run from the peasant mob, which murdered her father and destroyed her chances of a future in a county ruled by chaos. Her first stop is her motherís place in Paris. When she finds her missing and is threatened by sans culottes she reluctantly lets a visiting Englishman, a tradesman, rescue her. An earl in disguise, Rafe Harcourt is known for favoring French silks and the women wearing them. To safeguard her virtue for their crossing to England Rafe proposes marriage! Alix accepts.

Rafe wants to marry Alix even though he has a potential wife waiting for him at home. A sensible woman, a woman fit to stand by his side. But Alix is different. She is vibrant and spontaneous and the attraction is there right from their first encounter. She might be prone to wearing trousers and to discarding his instructions, but she is the one. And Alix? She wants an annulment as soon as they cross the channel.

A marriage of convenience, what a wonderful theme for a romance novel! If it only were to make sense. Soon after those two arrive in London, Alix learns of her husbandís deception and escapes into her motherís arms and enjoys the season as a much sought after, unattached and exotic woman. Thatís when I started wondering why they had to marry in the first place, if none of their acquaintances ever questions their time spent together. Why marry if there is no danger of a scandal? Not because they are in love. That comes later and is quite beautiful to behold.

I do find The Souvenir Countess, Joanna Novinsí debut release an entertaining story, but I need for story elements to make sense. I also like story elements to be carried through. Rafe is a man of trade. Iíd have loved to learn more about the consequences. And I also would have liked more sizzle to go with the sex. I did like the villain. A very good portrayal. Without any suspense, but with a keen eye for characterization and motivation.

The Souvenir Countess is a solid debut. Not very original, other than for its French Revolution setting, but Joanna Novinsí voice is interesting enough to have me curious for the sequel, Souvenir of Love.

Reviewed in February 2004 by Kris Alice.

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