The Daughters of Erin: Book 1, Countess of Scandal

Author: Laurel Mckee

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Release Date: January 2010

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5

Format: PRINT

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Once upon a time, the sun rose and set on William Denton; at least it did for Eliza Blacknall.   Inseparable as children, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest hopes with one another.  Nearing adulthood, reality set in, as is its way, and separation indeed found them, breaking their hearts in the process.

The eldest daughter of an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, with fervent, near fanatical ideals about an Ireland free of English tyranny, Eliza's future lay in making an advantageous match with an equally noble family.  Even though Will belongs to such a family, as the youngest son, his future had to be one of his own making.  And the only opportunity available that would allow him to rise and be worthy of a match with Eliza, was through the English regiment.  Will's enlistment, a direct betrayal of Eliza's principles, was met in the only way Eliza knew how – a sorrowful good-bye.  

Seven years later, Eliza finds herself widowed and finally free to live and act according to her will.  A member of the Irish rebel cause, Eliza is finally thriving in work she feels is her moral duty.  That is, until Will returns to Ireland an English officer.  No doubt, his return means the Crown is preparing to quell any and all Irish uprisings; but it also means the inevitable resurrection of unresolved feelings between Will and Eliza, the likes of which neither are prepared.  As both their loyalties are challenged by the rekindling of long-buried affections, and as Ireland lingers on the brink of violent insurrection, is there any hope that Will and Eliza will survive in one piece?  Or will it mean yet another painful separation, one that promises no chance of ever seeing one another again?

Will Denton, in all his blonde-haired, blue-green eyed, masculine glory, is a man among men.  Steadfast in is duty and hopelessly in love with the beautiful, intelligent, and rebellious Eliza Blacknall, is there any way he can remain true to himself and still fulfill his life-long dream of being with her?  On the flip side, as a child, Eliza's dream of a free Ireland stood toe-to-toe with her dream of forging a life with Will.  The latter dream dashed when Will left Ireland and Eliza has worked for too long towards rebellion.  Can she really let a lifetime of impassioned ideals slip away to be with her childhood love?  Years apart have put them on opposing political sides, but their love has remained ever constant.  Poignant, sometimes devastating, yet always ringing authentically true, the reader is gifted with a bird's eye view of the dual nature of love, how it can be both unbending, and yet still compromising.  

Ms. McKee skillfully and realistically shows how belief systems may remain the same and also evolve; and by doing so, ensures our characters’ soulful integrity remain intact.  Eliza's and Will's happy-ever-after, once reached, is both powerfully satisfying and forever engraved on the reader's mind and heart.

Ms. McKee's style of writing is stellar, streaming with lovely prose, vivid descriptions, breathtaking love scenes, and action-packed tension all throughout.  Every word sings with unyielding intensity, rendering each moment of passion, or pain, despair, panic, exhilaration, chaos, hysteria, lust, and love even more dynamic than the last.  For certain, this is an adroit and fast-paced blend of history and drama, teeming with the pain of "unspoken requited love".  

Beautifully written, with the staggering backdrop of late 18th century Ireland, COUNTESS OF SCANDAL reads like a captivating love story of epic proportions.  The ultimate page turner.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Chris

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