I am the Dowager Countess of Kinsail, and I have enough secrets to scandalise you for life.
I will never reveal the truth of my soul-destroying marriage – some things are too dark to be told. But at least no one can guess that I, a famously icy-hearted widow, am also the authoress of the shamelessly voluptuous romances currently shocking the ton…!
Only now I have a new secret identity, one that I will risk my life to keep – accomplice to Elliot Marchmont, gentleman, ex-solider and notorious London thief. This adventurer’s expert touch ignites in me a passion so intoxicating that surviving our blistering affair unscathed will be near impossible…
Now. I will confess when I read this plot description on NetGalley, I winced. I didn’t like the first person and was concerned that the entire book would be told that way (of which I am only sometimes a fan). The tone of this summary sounded a bit silly.
But oh my word! I’m glad I read this book. I loved this book. That teaser was pure trickeration and I am happy about it.
Sure, the first meeting between Marchmont and Lady Deborah Napier, Dowager Countess of Kinsail, is a bit…unrealistic. But their chemistry is immediate and that feels real. I applaud Kaye’s wit and the ease with which she writes conversations between the two main characters:
“I am not the current Lady Kinsail. Jacob is my husband’s cousin, the Fifth Earl. Jeremy was the fourth.”
“Was? You’re a widow?” She was a widow!
“Of some two years’ standing,” the widow replied.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear that.” The words were out before he could stop them.
“I doubt very much that the pleasure you take from my status could rival mine.”
When these characters divulge all sorts of information about themselves early on and easily to each other, even as near strangers, it feels right. If Kaye is doing so to move forward the plot or get explanations/character background out of the way, she does it so that it feels not only that we are learning about the characters but watching the scaffolding of a new relationship being built.
Also, I could not get enough of Kaye referring to Elliot as a “housebreaker” or to “housebreaking.” Cute words, Kaye.
Deborah has been scarred by the emotional abuse of her first marriage, something Kaye describes when she has Deborah think to herself, “Oh, Elliot. How she wished she had known him when she was whole. How much she she wished she was not broken, but she was.” And Elliot has to fight very hard for her, which [SPOILER but not really] he does. And that fight makes the end of the book extremely compelling.
I’ll leave you with this (in case you are not convinced to go read this treasure of book, which you should go do). Elliot and Deborah’s post-coital conversation (she starts):
“You need not look so smug. It is most ungentlemanly of you,” Deborah said, trying not to laugh.
Elliot pulled her on top of him and ran his fingers down her spine, cupping the curve of her bottom. “You know perfectly well I am not a gentleman. Besides, I have every right to feel smug. There is no mistaking the look of a satisfied woman. You should be feeling rather smug yourself, you know.”
“Should I? Why is that?” Her breasts were pressed into his chest. Her hair trailed over them both. It was very delicious, lying on top of him like this.
“Because you have, lying beneath you, one very, very satisfied man.”
Deborah beamed. “Really?”
“Completely,” Elliot said, kissing her. “At least,” he said a few moments later, “I thought I was. Only I find that perhaps…” He moved suggestively beneath her.
“Elliot! So soon?” Deborah exclaimed.
He couldn’t help laughing, she seemed so genuinely surprised.
I give Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah 4 out of 5 stars. And I’ve added it “My Favorite Romance Novels” list.