Type: Historical Romance
My Copy: Sent
Maris has always been grateful that her marriage to the aging Earl of Kelby saved her from spinsterhood. Though their union has been more peaceful than passionate, she and the earl have spent ten happy years together. But his health is quickly failing, and unless Maris produces an heir, Kelby’s conniving nephew will inherit his estate. And if the earl can’t get the job done himself, he’ll find another man who can… Captain Reynold Durant is known for both his loyalty to the Crown and an infamous record of ribaldry. Yet despite a financial worry of his own, even he is reluctant to accept Kelby’s lascivious assignment—until he meets the beautiful, beguiling Maris. Incited by duty and desire, the captain may be just the man they are looking for. But while he skillfully takes Maris to the heights of ecstasy she has longed for, she teaches him something even more valuable and unexpected…
Maris and Henry shared a warm, affectionate marriage despite their age difference. He was in essence a father figure to her, and while they did share some passion in the early days of their marriage, they were unable to consummate their union. There is no love lost between Henry and David Kelby, his no-account nephew who has no respect for his uncle or the Kelby family history. To insure that David does not inherit, Henry convinces Maris to agree to a plan: he will hire someone to masquerade as an antiquities expert supposedly at the estate to catalog the artifacts Kelby has stashed in the attic. In reality, this man will have relations with Maris until she conceives.
I must confess that the premise of this book initially turned me off. I had no interest in reading about a relationship formed from an arrangement such as the one Henry negotiated. Maris and the captain’s first meeting did little to change my opinion. She found him in a very compromising position, and to put it bluntly, he was arrogant and disrespectful. Maris wanted nothing to do with him and who could blame her? Despite each of their misgivings, the captain shows up at the Kelby estate as instructed. What follows was truly a wonderful love story.
I thought the author did a remarkable job of portraying her characters in an honest light. Maris struggled with her situation greatly. While theirs wasn’t a passionate union, she loved Henry and held him great esteem, so of course she was riddled with guilt to carry out his plan, even though she knew it was what he wanted. It became infinitely worse for her when she not only put up with Captain Durant’s company and eventually his touch, but she began to not only enjoy but to treasure both.
For his part, Durant was understandably reluctant to follow through with Henry’s scheme. He needed the money in order to take care of his ailing sister, but he was having misgivings before he even touched Maris. His feelings for her grew quickly and soon, for him, it was more than just making sure Maris becomes pregnant. He admired her and enjoyed her and wanted her more than he ever expected.
Their relationship progressed from animosity to sexual attraction to tragic love. What could the future hold for these two? Even after Henry died, there were what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to them being together. Maris’ world was turned upside down: pregnant and alone at age 34, she was turned out of her home by her despicable nephew David, and she was full of guilt and sadness because she missed the joy she’d found briefly with Reyn.
I absolutely loved the second half of this book. Once Maris was removed from her role as the countess, she truly came into her own. I liked her, and I liked that she began to follow her heart. Reyn was a delight. He was clever and caring and wanted nothing more than to take care of Maris and their child. However, her marriage, his past, the future of her child all stood between them and a happy ending. The way the author brought about their reunion and the solution to their drama was both touching and clever. Maggie Robinson is new to me, but I wouldn’t hesitate to read more after this.
I give Captain Durant’s Countess by Maggie Robinson 4 stars.