Evie Duggan, widow of the Earl of Wareham, has landed in Pennyroyal Green hoping for anonymity and a fresh start. What she finds is an uncommonly handsome vicar named Adam Sylvaine, a cousin of the famed Everseas family. Adam is certain he has heard something along the way about this beautiful woman who has just dozed through his sermon. It’s not until his Eversea cousins enlighten him that Adam learns that Evie has quite a history behind her flight to Damask Manor . . . and into Adam’s parish.
Adam is surprised when Evie requests his help in becoming part of village life. Evie is lonely, and longs for friendship, but Adam is wary of her motives. What is even more surprising, however, is the protectiveness that Adam feels for his newest parishioner, a woman who manages to intrigue or disturb him at any given turn.
Any relationship between a vicar and a “fallen woman” is bound to be fraught with problems, and Adam knows that he can’t pursue the desire he feels to be with Evie. But he also knows that he can’t ignore how very alive Evie makes him feel. Just when Adam thinks that maybe, just maybe, he and Evie could forge a life together, however improbable, a voice from Evie’s past appears, and Adam’s world is turned upside down. Adam is strong, but Evie may prove to be even stronger, unless Adam can convince her that she is not only a valued member of the community, but that she’s also taken up residence . . . in his heart.
Heartbreak, desire, repentance, trust and, finally, truth—the themes in A Notorious Countess Confesses are indeed as multitudinous as those of the Bible itself. A romance with a vicar as the heroic lead can be seen as risky, yet author Long’s beautiful characterizations take both Adam and Evie beyond their positions in life and elevate them to a wonderful sum of their parts. The various villagers and subplots throughout the story do so much to enhance the plot, and Long’s sly sense of humor regarding embroidered cushions is hilarious! Each of Julie Anne Long’s novels is more memorable than the last, and it will truly be difficult to top A Notorious Countess Confesses.