The Harlot Countess: Wicked Deceptions #2 by Joanna Shupe with Excerpt

The Harlot Countess: Wicked Deceptions #2 by Joanna Shupe with Excerpt

Welcome to my stop for  the second in the Wicked Deceptions series by Joanna Shupe. Please be sure to read my review, don’t miss the excerpt and then check out the other tour stops to see what others thought about the title.  In addition, you can enter the tour wide giveaway where you could be one of three winners of a print copy of THE HARLOT COUNTESS by Joanna Shupe.

The Harlot Countess

I enjoyed the debut offering from this author, so I was curious to see what she would do with The Harlot Countess, book 2 in the Wicked Deceptions series from Joanna Shupe. A knack for creating heroines that just dance with the common threads of bold and daring without falling into overly spoilt, shrewish or utter scatterbrains, Shupe has brought a new entrant into the world with Margaret.  Intelligent and a survivor, she is using her knowledge of the world and politics to express her opinions under a male pseudonym as a political cartoonist. Shrew, sharp and pointed, her cartoons are the talk of the town, skewering bad behavior and duplicity with equal measure.  In reality, Maggie buries the tender heart and hurt feelings beneath an icy façade, married to a much older man, with plenty of angst and drama, she doesn’t believe that love (or even a relationship) is in her future.

Society is full of mean girls and opportunistic men, and nowhere is this more evident than in the cats that make up the Tonne. Rumors and scandals are attributed to Maggie, all of which she has risen above and done her best to ignore, despite the hurt they cause. She’s done what many can understand- ignore the cats, work on what pleases HER (her art) and why not fill expectations from her tattered reputation by attending parties thought scandalous, even when she isn’t misbehaving in the least.

Simon and Maggie had been friends for years, until the scandal broke. At that point, Simon, being a clueless male and striving for his own position in society actually turned his back on Maggie, signifying his dismissal and lack of support for her when she needed him most. I can’t completely see him as a total ass – she wouldn’t have tolerated that for all those years – but he did make huge mistakes in forgetting what and who is truly important to him.  Maggie’s ability to take out her anger in the pointed cartoons that attack his reputation are hitting the mark – and his request that she help unmask the artist behind the attack is a perfect opportunity for her to show him just how awfully he had treated her.

Miscommunication and an utter unwillingness to actually communicate are at the heart of this story, after the despicable self-serving behaviors of Cranford ruin Maggie’s reputation. She could, quite easily, hope that her friend Simon would hear the truth – but her plan to bring him to his senses with her own talents is a clever twist that moves the story forward.  With plenty of steam, enough uber-alpha insecurities displayed by Simon and a wonderful ‘aha’ moment when things come clear made this a story ripe for imagination and enjoyment. A lovely installment to the series.

The Harlot Countess: Wicked Deceptions #2 by Joanna Shupe with Excerpt

Title: The Harlot Countess
Author: Joanna Shupe
Series: Wicked Deceptions #2
Also in this series: The Courtesan Duchess, The Lady Hellion
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 1420135546
Published on: 28 April, 2015
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 352
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 46 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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Lady Hawkins’s debut was something she’d rather forget—along with her first marriage. Today, the political cartoonist is a new woman. A thoroughly modern woman. So much so that her clamoring public believes she’s a man…

FACT:  Drawing under a male pseudonym, Maggie is known as Lemarc. Her (his!) favorite object of ridicule: Simon Barrett, Earl of Winchester. He’s a rising star in Parliament—and a former confidant and love interest of Maggie’s who believed a rumor that vexes her to this day.

FICTION:  Maggie is the Half-Irish Harlot who seduced her best friend’s husband on the eve of their wedding. She is to be feared and loathed as she will lift her skirts for anything in breeches.

Still crushed by Simon’s betrayal, Maggie has no intention of letting the ton crush her as well. In fact, Lemarc’s cartoons have made Simon a laughingstock…but now it appears that Maggie may have been wrong about what happened years ago, and that Simon has been secretly yearning for her since…forever. Could it be that the heart is mightier than the pen and the sword after all?

See the Wicked Deceptions Series on GoodReads

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Tasty Excerpt

 

After what seemed an eternity, Simon saw his opening. The group around Maggie thinned so he moved in to hover at her elbow. She glanced up, the green gaze sharpening behind the mask, and he saw her shoulders stiffen. Blue peacock feathers twitched and bounced as she turned to excuse herself. When her companions departed, she said, “Lord Winchester. This is a surprise.”

“Good evening, Lady Hawkins.” He quickly made the introductions and, despite her apparent displeasure at Simon’s presence, Maggie fussed over the legendary Duke and Duchess of Colton.

“I am so pleased you both came,” Maggie said with an elegant curtsey. “I’ve longed to meet you both for ages.”

“Likewise,” Julia returned. “The performance was inspired, and I adore your costume. Are you Amphitrite?”

“No. I am the humble Naiad Daphne.”

“Ah, but she gives Apollo a merry chase,” Colton noted. “A formidable woman if there ever was one.”

“All women are formidable, Your Grace—or haven’t you realized yet?”

“He is well aware of that fact. I taught him never to underestimate a woman.” Julia raised her brows at Colton as if daring him to contradict her.

“Quite true, Duchess,” the duke responded with a smirk.

“Who designed your chalk drawings?” Julia motioned toward the dance floor. “They are simply breathtaking.”

“Thank you. They were done by an artist of my acquaintance.”

The group turned to study the drawings now being trampled underfoot by the dancers. “Magnificent,” Julia said. “It’s almost a pity to ruin them.”

Simon shot Colton a look over Julia’s head. Knowing each other since boyhood meant no words were necessary, and Colton instantly offered his arm to his wife. “Well, lovely or not, shall we dance?”

Maggie’s lips curved when the duke and duchess departed. “That was nicely orchestrated, Lord Winchester. Dukes at your command. Parliament at your feet. I am anxious for your next triumph. Shall I call back the crowd?”

“Not very subtle of me, but I did wish to speak with you. If you had not refused to see me this week . . .”

“Yes, I have no doubt this is the last place you wish to find yourself this evening.”

 Absolutely correct, though he would never admit it. “You would be wrong. I’ve been quite entertained, in fact.”

“Then I shall consider tonight a success.”

“From what I’m told, all your parties are successful. Is it true you once had actual tigers?”

 Her green irises sparkled like emeralds. “A bit of an exaggeration. One tiger and he was quite tame. Most of the guests were disappointed, I think.”

The uniqueness of her beauty struck him, as it always had. Pitch-colored, glossy hair. Creamy skin without a blemish or mark. Full, pink lips. There was no woman on earth like Maggie. He’d known it the first time he clapped eyes on her—as had any number of other men, if the rumors of her numerous affaires were true. “The duchess was correct. You are quite beautiful this evening.” His tone was sharper than it ought to be when paying a compliment, and he nearly winced.

Her look turned measuring. “Thank you, though I might catch my death if I do not change out of my wet clothes.” She picked up the skirts of her dress, showed him the soaked fabric. Instantly, he was transfixed by the vision of her shapely leg covered in damp, transparent silk. His blood began to simmer. He wanted to feel her, to hold her . . . to run his tongue over the smooth knob of her ankle. A monumental mistake, if he allowed it, though desire was hardly ever logical.

Nevertheless, what came out of his mouth surprised even him. “Reminds me of the time I taught you to ice skate. Do you recall, at the Serpentine? The hem of your dress became damp and you nearly froze.”

She blinked up at him. “I haven’t thought of that outing in quite some time. That was a . . . nice day.”

“Yes, it was.” The urge to touch her worsened, a strange ache at the fond memories. “Will you dance with me?”

“Oh, I never dance.”

“Why not? You like to dance. At least, you did.”

She lifted a shoulder. “Dancing bores me to tears. Besides, it’s the sort of thing done at respectable parties.”

“Oh, the horror,” Simon drawled.

Her lips thinned. “Mock if you must, but I am no longer the girl you once knew—and I have no desire to become her ever again.”

 

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About Joanna Shupe

Joanna Shupe has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. In 2013, she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

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