Captain Durant's Countess
By Maggie Robinson
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Only the great affection she has for her husband would have sent Maris, Countess of Shelby inside the Reigning Monarchs Society in search of Captain Reynold Durant, who is reneging on the bargain he has struck with the Earl of Kelby. Maris’s relationship with her much older husband may not be the stuff of fairy tales, but her esteem for him and her loyalty to him are unquestionable. Maris understands the desperation that led him to hire Captain Durant’s services, and she is determined to see that the Captain fulfills the agreement for which he has already been paid. Her determination proves strong even when she is confronted by Durant in all his naked insouciance.
Reyn Durant had been desperate himself when he responded to an advertisement in The London List. His sister Virginia was ill, and Reyn needed money to see that she received not only the best medical care but also a home beyond London’s polluted environs where good food and fresh air might increase her chances of survival. Good luck at the gambling tables has given him the means to repay the money Kelby gave him, and he has every intention of doing so. His restlessness and boredom since leaving military life may have led him to participate in the debauchery of London’s most exclusive sex club, but his sense of honor won’t let him serve as stud for Kelby’s countess, no matter if the old man needs an heir to save his estate from a conscienceless nephew. But refusing becomes more difficult once he meets Maris and finds himself inexplicably drawn to her.
Frankly, if an author I trusted less than I trust Maggie Robinson had used this plot, the story line alone would have made me ignore the book. Even though Jo Beverley and Cecilia Grant have proved themselves storytellers gifted enough to overcome my instinctive ick response to the adultery-for-a-greater-good plot, it’s one I prefer to avoid. But I’ve been a Maggie Robinson fan since before she was published, and I know she is an adept writer. Maris and Reyn eventually become winsome characters. Robinson builds layers of complexity into the story, refusing to guild the reality of adultery. Maris’s guilt is real, and Reyn is surprisingly vulnerable beneath the façade of experienced charmer. Watching them become friends as well as lovers made it impossible not to root for their HEA.
Captain Durant’s Countess may not be quite so spectacularly good as is Lord Gray’s List, but it is a worthy addition to a series built on a fascinating premise. Wherever Maggie Robinson goes next with the London List books, I plan to follow. I recommend both books to readers looking for a sizzling romance, a powerful story, and fine writing.