The Countess Trilogy (2009) by Alison Richardson, published by Harlequin, are “Spice Briefs” that are erotic short stories published in “e” only. I read the first short (The Countess’s Client) and quickly wrapped up the other two stories in quick succession (An Impolite Seduction & The Birthday Gift). The titles pretty much gives you an idea of what the stories are about and all were enjoyable reads. So thank you Janine.
Countess Anna Van Esslin is a young woman, a widow really, who now and again, indulges her sexual desires as she see fit. Because of her high status in society, she knows all the rules of discretion and knows how to play the game when it comes to keeping her freedom and enjoying her sexual exploits sans scandal.
Well, the Countess makes a few missteps. First, she skirts close to scandal when she decides to play the “whore” to a Scottish philosopher and scientist, James McKirnan in The Countess’s Client. Needless to say, her lowborn admirer dared expected more than his status allowed when he asked her to be his mistress and then his wife. Of course she turns him down (the nerve!) at every turn but James isn’t giving up at all. He’s very confident and a strong rival. The two are well matched.
I was often amused at what James had up his sleeve in order to win Anna’s favor. He annoys her at every turn with his underhandedness. He wants to marry her but she continues to refuse him and thus he becomes her adversarial suitor. Anna views marriage to a commoner as some kind of nightmare situation that doesn’t even bear thinking about. So James has a battle on his hands when it comes to making the Countess overlook his social status despite the fact that he seems to please her in the bedroom.
In “An Impolite Seduction,” has both James and Anna scheming and trumping each other. All I can say is that in this entry, Anna gets the better of James in this go round. She ends up him having him exiled but they meet in again in the only place that he can call home: Munich.
The conclusion of the trilogy, The Birthday Present, caps a somewhat HEA of sorts to the chase that began in Paris some eleven years ago and ends in Munich. I liked the ending although it is unconventional. The premise for “The Birthday Present” has the Countess gifted with a secret lover for her “birthday present” after two years of celibacy and she doesn’t know who it is.
Surely it can’t be James, can it? There’s several good reasons why it’s not James. First, James speaks appallingly bad French and her secret lover speaks eloquently. And second, her cousin Robert, who gave her her birthday present despises James as much as much she does so… who is he? Who is this man who makes her body sing and makes her yearn for his touch?
The last story was more romantic with an added bit of danger. Once again, the Countess makes a misstep that endangers the man she loves (ok she hates to admit it but she does love him). I just knew there had to be some type of major event to make her come to her senses. Anyway. Highly recommend this trilogy and thanks again to Janine and Wendy (who also enjoyed this series as well). B+.