The Countess
by Catherine Coulter, historical (1999)
Signet, $7.50, ISBN 0-451-19850-6


When she first saw the man, Andrea Jameson, spinster of 21, has the affections of her dear doggie George stolen by James. The second and third time they meet, she learns that he smiles seductively and can be a very devious man. The next time she sees him again is when she is married to his brother.

Welcome to Catherine Coulter's rewrite of her first book The Autumn Countess, which she claims (quite rightfully) is a Gothic masquerading as a romance. This romance is all written in first person, the I did this, I thought this format if you will. And it works very well, if a little awkwardly thanks to some really weird things the characters say at times.

Andrea's new family has your usual family skeletons in the closet, complete with sexual dysfunction, some really nasty relatives, and villians that may or may not be from her own family members as well as her new ones. Someone is going to kill her too, but luckily for her, hunky James is there to play Hardy Boy to her Nancy Drew. Oh dear, I just realize what that Hardy Boy phrase could be misconstrued into, so let me add a hasty disclaimer that Hardy Boy is not a Freudian slip or any not-too-subtle innuendo about James' prowess or anything.

Ms Coulter can sure write a fine mystery, but ultimately things get irritating when her characters speak as if they are reciting lines from an overblown melodrama on stage. Andrea tells her doggie who has run off to play with James, "George, you and I know you are the King of Dogs and..." Huh? Nobody speaks in lines even remotely resembling normalcy, (unless that is how people actually speak in that Era, then it's me at fault).

At the end of the book, why yes, this book is a pretty good read, and it has a cute dog too. That is, if I can get over the really weird dialogs, which I don't think I can. Much. Especially at the $7.50 price tag, which I'm beginning to regret paying for.

Rating: 63


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