by Cheryl Bolen

January 2005
ISBN: 0-8217-7789-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Regency England—While the Earl of Warwick lay sleeping, big changes were about to occur in his well ordered life and home. Yes, it took some time to comprehend that the female voices interrupting his relatively short snooze, were actually coming from the entry of his own home. After all, Edward was a provisional bachelor—pledged to wed the beautiful Fiona Hollingsworth after her mourning period ended. He was also a man who had no mother or sisters to interfere with his domestic tranquility. This alone caused him to linger in his darkened bedchamber, questioning his sanity and the voices below until he heard a female shriek and the game of denial was over. Although in reality . . .the game of denial for Edward was really only about to begin.

Maggie Peabody Henshaw had married a scoundrel! Her worst fear had come true. Moreover, the half-naked, breathtakingly handsome man peering over the banister had now confirmed it. She was not the countess of Warwick, but a penniless widow and American, raised by English Royalists in Virginia. Her lying, cheating dead husband had not only passed himself off as the Earl of Warwick in America, but here in England as well. After his initial shock of finding her and her entourage in his home, the name Lawrence Henshaw came as no surprise to the Earl. He had once worked with Edward at the Foreign Office, before the no-good reprobate betrayed his country and fled to America. What was she to do now? Her sister Rebecca, her aging maid Sarah and of course her beloved cat Tubby were all depending on her. If she could appeal to the earls seemingly sympathetic nature, and buy a little time here in his home, she could begin looking immediately for a new husband. It was her only hope.

Cheryl Bolen’s The Counterfeit Countess will satisfy even the most discerning historical romance reader. The protagonists are both extremely likeable; the secondary characters a delight. You just know that Ms. Bolen will need a follow-up book to keep us apprised of their whereabouts, as too many of the key players lives were left unresolved. In addition, there is a solid romance, a surprising suspense aspect to the story and even some comedic relief with Maggie’s obnoxious, yet loveable cat Tubby. Consequently, that is where my one complaint lies. Such a colorful cast can sometimes detract from our protagonists and encourage us to warm more to one or another of them in particular. For example—I spent a lot of time wondering if Maggie’s sister Rebecca would unexpectedly blossom, and possibly usurp her sister in Edwards' growing affections or would she be the more interesting of the two romantically. Inasmuch, I hope that I am right and there will be a subsequent story or two to gratify my preoccupation and affection for one-and-all.

I highly recommend The Counterfeit Countess and eagerly look forward to more from Ms. Bolen. If she keeps this up, I predict a real rising star in the historical/regency romance genre.

Warm cheers and the best of luck to . . .Cheryl Bolen!

Reviewed in March 2005 by Janice.

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