The Count’s Last Mistress by Bess Greenfield

COUNT
The Count’s Last Mistress by Bess Greenfield
Publisher: Mouette (Self-Published)
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (315 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Hollyhock

An unforgettable, sexy tale of good intentions gone awry, deception, and unexpected passion between an aristocratic French cavalry officer and a free-spirited American painter in Paris…

When her social conscience and avant-garde art trigger rumors of mental instability, New York heiress Jeanne Delancy flees to Paris to begin her life anew as an independent painter. But the political turmoil of 1871 leaves her with an abandoned child to protect and a tragic mystery to solve. Struggling and desperate, Jeanne is stunned to receive an absurdly lucrative commission from a handsome, aristocratic cavalry officer. The former wallflower has every reason to mistrust the arrogant, yet charming comte de Chaumenay, but she finds the offer difficult to refuse and her new patron even harder to resist.

Consumed with remorse over his past, war hero Olivier Valencourt is certain the beguiling American beauty he discovers in a Montmartre hovel holds the key to his redemption. To convince her to reveal a truth only she can tell, he plots to win her confidence through patronage, patience, and his never-before-tested powers of persuasion. But it doesn’t take long for the bohemian’s unconventional wisdom and innocent sensuality to obliterate his self-control and divert his agenda entirely. While the strong-willed opposites struggle to reconcile their deepest longings, dangerous alliances and scandalous secrets threaten a tragic repetition of history.

A French count determined to carry out his brother’s last wish meets a runaway American artist equally determined to stand in his way.

I have always loved Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters depicting the Moulin Rouge, so the idea of a female artist documenting the same bohemian life of Montmartre, creating advertisements for the cabarets, sketching the patrons, etc., was very appealing to me. Her unusual occupation, coupled with her assumed identity in a foreign country, makes Jeanne Henri an intriguing heroine. She’s independent, dedicated to her art, and resolved to protect the child her friend Claudine left in her care before she disappeared. When Olivier Valencourt shows up looking for Claudine—and finds his brother’s son instead—Jeanne refuses to be intimidated by him. She will do what’s best for Alex, no matter his uncle’s wealth and aristocratic position.

Olivier, still grieving the loss of his brother and recovering from serious wounds received during the war, can’t wait to rescue his brother’s child from the poverty and decadence he perceives in Montmartre. Olivier’s emotions are as impaired as his body, but meeting Jeanne is enough to make him feel alive again, even though he knows she is fighting to keep his nephew from him. This battle of wills makes for a memorable romance as two strong characters try desperately to stand their ground even as attraction overcomes them.

The story immerses the reader in the atmosphere of the era, especially the scenes that take place in Montmartre. The author brings the bohemian world of artists, writers, and philosophers to life, and shows what the country was like in the aftermath of the violent Paris Commune uprising. In addition to the absorbing romance, I appreciated the artistic presentation of the book with its lovely cover and elegant chapter headings. I found a few typos and misused words, but not enough to detract from the story.

Its unusual setting and memorable characters make The Count’s Last Mistress an enjoyable read from start to finish. I think anyone who appreciates good historical writing will enjoy this story.

Comments

  1. Thank you for your enthusiastic review!
    Best Regards,
    Bess

Speak Your Mind

*