Countess So Shameless
Mélisande Compton, the Countess of Wilmington, may be an English peer, but she has a secret that, if revealed, would shock the realm: she is the illegitimate daughter of King Louis XV. She learns the secret of her birth as a young teen, and she chooses to remain with her parents, even though Louis offers her a place at the French court. Mélisande relishes her independence and is determined not to marry, but she wants to experience passion. She seizes the opportunity when she is reunited with Lord Alessandro Orsini, a rakish Italian who has a reputation as a seducer. Mélisande propositions Orsini: she wants to learn the ways of love, with no strings attached. Orsini has been attracted to Mélisande ever since he first saw her at Versailles, and he gladly accepts the proposition. The two are surprised when they find that their physical attraction leads to something emotional. When Mélisande’s sworn enemy tries to reveal Mélisande’s secret, Orsini risks his life to protect her.
Despite a slow start, LeFey’s debut is enjoyable once the story gets going. Although there are some secondary characters of note, the focus is kept on the budding relationship between Mélisande and Orsini rather than on subplots that muddy the story. Mélisande’s backstory is intriguing, and LeFey does a nice job explaining her complex personal history. It’s good to see a debut author writing something that isn’t a Regency, and I hope LeFey continues to write more novels set in the Georgian era.