A 3.5 for this one. I was very frustrated with some editing errors (like the heroine's name switching between two, it was so annoying!) and a few other sloppy typos and that really affected the story for me.
Also, the storyline is reminiscent of Courtney Milan's "Unclaimed" and I couldn't help making comparisons.
A countess who was a former courtesan comes to Pennyroyal Green after her husband of a very short time dies suddenly. All she's left with is a small allowance, a cottage and total ruin in London. She meets the reverend Adam Sylvaine and they embark on a friendship when all others are shunning her, her tattered status in London reaching all the way to Sussex.
I did like quite a bit of it, Julie Anne Long has a real gift for humor and chemistry. I was very engaged in the couple's slow building attraction and I felt their heartbreak caused by the cruelty of others at several points during the book. It even brought tears to my eyes a couple of times.
But the problem with stories that revolve around a courtesan and a "righteous" man is that they just feel so implausible. Especially with this one. Rumors and salacious gossip about the countess seem completely believable and there's no real reason for anyone to think anything else. I'm just supposed to believe there will be a mass change of heart?
I applaud stepping outside the box, but I felt that Unclaimed did a better job of making the conclusion somewhat plausible. While I completely believed these two would fall deeply in love, I thought the societal obstacles surrounding them were surmounted too easily. Ultimately, I didn't buy it.