“She was struck by the width of his shoulders, a great shelf tapering elegantly into a lean frame. In his hands rustled sheets of foolscap upon which he’d no doubt written the words meant to improve their collective souls. Bent over his notes as he was now, he looked as if he were supporting the weight of invisible wings
She could have sworn that then every pair of feminine shoulders rose and fell in a sigh when the vicar looked up, a smile, faint but warm, inclusive but impersonal, ready on his face, before he dropped his gaze again to his notes. The perfect vicar smile. She’d spent enough time in a theater to admire stagecraft. She’d spent enough time with men to be cynical about all of them.
She had no use for any of them anymore. That, of a certainty, was part of her new life.”
As you can probably tell from that little excerpt, the heroine of A Notorious Countess Confesses (the 7th book in my Pennyroyal Green series), Evie Duggan is decidedly world-weary—and weary of men—when she flees to Pennyroyal Green from London. Her meteoric rise in London society (from Covent Garden stage to Courtesan to countess) and subsequent plummet after her husband’s (suspicious, the ton likes to say) death have left her jaded, raw and weary, and she wants to begin a new life—a life that definitely won’t include men, for whom she’s always been a commodity. Not even the devastatingly handsome vicar (she’s jaded, mind you, not blind) can shake this conviction. But when London gossip follows her to Sussex, it’s to the vicar she’s forced to turn for help in ingratiating herself with the women of the town.
Of course she learns Adam Sylvaine is like no other man she’s ever known. She’s used to handsome men. She’s used to powerful men. It’s his other qualities—a preternatural self-possession, a palpable confidence, his calmly commanding presence, his ability to see right through artifice and call her on it, giving her no choice but to be real—which fascinate her very much against her will. And ultimately she senses that, in his way, he’s the first truly powerful man she’s ever known. And as Adam discovers the real Evie Duggan, he begins to admire her character as much as her vaunted beauty.
It was a pleasure writing a conflict that was so fraught in so many ways. The key was to take two people who seem like polar opposites—one respectable, one scandalous, one experienced, one much less so, from two different worlds and so forth—and find the ways in which they are so similar and so ultimately right for each other. In fact, the things they have in common are a result of the lives they’ve each led: a certain unassailable strength and resiliency, depth and maturity, the courage to make difficult choices, a passionate commitment to protecting the people they love, a powerful sense of duty, a need to belong, a secret loneliness…and great explosive wells of passion.
The path to love isn’t an easy or smooth one for either of them, and I had a wonderful time putting the two of them through some exquisite torture…which made writing the ending all the more satisfying. I hope you get a chance to read it and let me know whether you think these two belong together.
PRIZE ALERT: Julie Anne Long's publisher is giving away 3 copies of A Notorious Countess Contesses. So pop in and post a comment to be entered to win.
Evie wants a new life. If you could have a genie that said you could have an entire new life, what would you wish for? An empty island with a sexy butler? A mountain top cabin with drop off of your internet shopping packages? A Penthouse in Scotland? Tell us!