The Harlot Countess is the second book in Joanna Shupe’s Wicked Deceptions series, and the story is just as steamy and interesting as its predecessor. I received an advance copy of this book by requesting it through NetGalley. I really love a heroine with guts, and Maggie is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Deceitful lies result in social tragedy during her debut, and the entire ton declares her a ruined woman. For Maggie, the injury doubles when the man she has given her heart to turns his back on her as well. Forced to marry a much older man to ensure her younger sister has prospects, Maggie receives some measure of freedom after the death of her husband…and she conveniently finds an outlet for her anger in a political cartoonist persona.
Simon is quickly becoming an important force in Parliament, following in the steps of his father and joining the political circle at a young age. While he usually moves past insults and does not give them undue attention, this Lemarc character is digging up old memories and turning him into a laughingstock. He has not come this far to be knocked down by a cartoonist, but he needs help to find the artist because no one is talking. When he runs into Maggie in an art shop after a decade apart, he is just as entranced as he was before she broke his heart. How can he have feelings for a woman who plays around?
The presence of danger, strong emotion, and psychological and social battles erupting throughout the book keep the reader turning pages. While I appreciated the appearance of characters from the first book, I think this is a good standalone. I enjoyed this story, and I would recommend it to any historical romance fans that are looking for stronger female leads and a story with some action. This book is available on 28 April 2015, but you can pre-order it now. I will be keeping an eye out for the next book in this series!