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Secrets of a Proper Countess

(The Archer Family #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  519 ratings  ·  91 reviews
There are secrets we take to the grave...
and some we just take to bed.

If Lady Isobel Maitland is caught even speaking to an incorrigible rogue like the Marquess of Blackwood, she stands to lose everything she holds dear. Strict rules in her husband's will ensure that if she remarries or even forms friendships her mother-in-law does not approve of, then she will never s
Mass Market Paperback, 371 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Avon
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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At a masked ball, Lady Isobel Maitland lets herself free for the first time with a well known rake Phineas Archer, Marquess of Blackwood, with the mask Isobel can be free to do what she wants for one night. Of course, she doesn't count of Phineas not forgetting her taste, but Phineas has his own mask to hide behind, that of a spy whom works for the British government, as a rake no one will give him a second look, but when Isobel enters his life he's willing to risk it all...

Sound a tad famili
Apr 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, 2011-april
If Lady Isobel Maitland is caught even speaking to an incorrigible rogue like the Marquess of Blackwood, she stands to lose everything she holds dear. Strict rules in her husband's will ensure that if she remarries or even forms friendships her mother-in-law does not approve of, then she will never see her young son again. But one night, in a dark garden at a masquerade ball, Isobel gives in to temptation, and lets an innocent flirtation turn into seduction.

Phineas Archer, the notorious Marquess
Jan 10, 2018 marked it as to-read
I didn't even look at the blurb. That cover is stunning. 😍 ...more
Sep 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance-regency
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Navarre
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Regency romance, Mary Balogh and Amanda Quick
In Lecia Cornwall’s charming debut, the elegant ballroom setting of Regency England may be familiar, but Cornwall’s unusually poignant heroine is anything but. Widowed countess Isobel Maitland is a virtual prisoner in her London townhouse, trapped by the terms of her husband’s will that transferred to her odious mother-in-law both Isobel’s fortune and the guardianship of her beloved son. Consequently, the Dowager Countess Honoria queens it over the Maitland household. If Isobel dares to emerge f ...more
Victoria Vane
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fangirl Musings
When considering my reaction to this book, in general, overall, I'd have to say enjoyment was found. At the end of the story, I admit freely I was fascinated by the characters. I found the plot to be readable. The dialogue was believable. The external drama was interesting, and well written. But, there were some issues.

From the beginning of the novel, to the end, I found the leading characters in the story to be very much grounded in reality. One of my biggest criticisms of a book forms itself w
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it
This was better than expected, considering the mess that was How to Deceive a Duke. The story felt much better woven than the other, and while the plot did descend into melodramatic farce, there were elements of this that I actually enjoyed.

1. I am 110% done with the "parent abandons child and through no fault of their own, fails to communicate their ever-lasting love and devotion, and POOF, all feelings of abandonment and despair disappear!" trope.

2. Which, that trope really didn't eve
Jul 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I gave this a 4/5 because I very much liked the premise of the story, writing and the main characters. A few things kind of took away from the book, but can be over looked if you keep in mind this is the author's debut novel. The plot was a bit uneven, and the use of chapter division was a bit distracting.

I liked the unique characters and the fact that Phineas was certain he would know his secret paramour instantly but absolutely gaffed at cluing into her identity. I thought this was rather wel
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Quoting fabulous Smart Bitches, Trashy Books "This is a case of Magic Wang meeting Magic HooHa" :) The two main characters meet at the masquerade where they have passionate sex, and after that she runs away leaving her shoe behind (hint *cinderella*) and they both can't stop thinking about each other.
The author writes fabulously well, the book is really easy to read and is enjoyable, but my God! There were some moments of *too stupid to live* that made me scream in frustration.
He is a spy f
Apr 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
I was really disappointed in this book. It had a very weak plot (way too many villains); the heroine was terribly inconsistent ("I will do anything for my child" as she does the one thing guaranteed, supposedly, to lose him); she was apparently totally ignorant of any rights (surely if she already owned property before the marriage it was held in trust and she had a legal advisor? Even if she didn't, couldn't she get one?); and it was completely unbelievable that the hero failed to recognize her ...more
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This debut book is hard to rate. The writing and characters in this story were very good. I liked the voice and style of the author. Also the romance was well done. Because I consider those elements to be essential I'm giving this four stars. However I found the traitors plot a bit weak. There was a lot of action in the last half of the book which was enjoyable. I just had trouble believing the motivation of the villains. Still, a very good debut and I'm looking forward to her next book. ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
10 stars for this incredible book

This book was so steamy and hot from the beginning. The angst throughout the book was so good. I couldn’t wait for Phineas to discover who his mystery lover was. If you don’t like steamy explicit love scenes this book is not for you! But for someone like me who LOVES books full of angst and extreme steam, this book is for you!!!!
Feb 02, 2011 rated it liked it
For a complete review, visit Affaire de Coeur magazine, hard copy or online at: - March 2011 issue. ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Witty dialogue throughout makes this a delightful read. It just irks me so much that these characters have such communication issues! Why can't Isobel tell Blackwood about her family's threats? ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I think it is very well written especially for debut novel. 4.5
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regency, free, kindle
It took me several days to finish this book. It just didn't hold my attention. ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spy, rake, widow, dowd-heroine
It was okay. I like some parts of the heroine but I just can't get over the fact that, to me, the hero was more important than her child (even if she says otherwise). also, Adam is such an asshole. ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I want to give this book a higher star rating. Really, I do! I like the premise, but there were just so many little things that continued to irk me, and I have a hard time looking past those elements.

Here’s what I liked: *SPOILERS*

The Plot
I actually enjoyed the premise of the story. The widow who is controlled by her husband’s family and the smuggling and kidnapping plot actually worked for me.

What frustrated me:

The Naivety of the Characters
Isobel and Phineas seemed to never understand one anot
Kit Aab
Oct 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Is this the result of my keto mood or was the book really that bad? Read on, dear reader, and you will find out. Or maybe you won't. At least this isn't a 'novel' and I am not an 'author'.
Lots of other reviewers have addressed the story in detail, so I will focus on feeling the feelings this book engendered.
(view spoiler)
Susan Ross
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I have a bias against heroes or heroines that let other people bully them so I didn't particularly like Isobel. She is bullied by her mother-in-law and brother-in-law and believes that, if she goes out of the lines of propriety (according to them), they can take away her son. Yet she has hot sex with a man she barely knows. Umm. What does she think would happen if she got pregnant?

Blackwood is a spy and yet he can't see what is right in front of his face. I could understand that if he was a regu
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Debut! This was a debut! I'm trying to figure out what makes a good book for me because I've had several DNFs lately and by tried and true authors and then this one knocks my socks off. It started out with a sexual encounter at a masquerade and a search like Cinderella and developed into a thriller. There were secrets, misunderstandings, and assumptions. Often these lead to ridiculous story lines but were used in just the right amounts to support the story. I'm keeping my copy. ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed this. I'd have given it 5 stars if it weren't for how dense everyone was to catch on that Honoria was the "mastermind" and Isobel was innocent. These men are supposed to be masters of subterfuge, and yet they cannot see what is perfectly obvious in this situation? It strains credibility. ...more
My only complaint with this book is that I feel like Phineas and Isobel should have gotten to know each other better, maybe talked some more.
Mary Gramlich
SECRETS of a PROPER COUNTESS written by Lecia Cornwall
03/11- HarperCollins Publishers, Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages

We all hide behind masks and fear what will happen when I remove it?

Isobel Maitland, the Countess of Ashdown hid behind drab clothing, the lifestyle of a respectable widow and a demure composure to protect everything she cared about. Her husband left her life in control of his family and their goal was to take it and her son away. Isobel did as she was commanded but on this one
Book Binge
Jul 29, 2011 marked it as to-read
When Lady Isobel’s husband died his will stated that she had to keep her reputation spotless at all times or her son, the current Earl would be taken from her permanently by his brother and mother. It also gave all control of her money and properties to her in-laws. Isobel is miserable and wants nothing more to be as far from her in-laws as possible but for the sake of her son she stays and deals with the humiliation that is piled on her regularly.

One night at a masked ball she breaks through he
Apr 08, 2011 rated it liked it
A strong 3.5

This book had some good buzz so I had to read it. I also liked the blurb about it. This is a strong showing from a debut author.

This was definitely a page turner for me and I stayed up until 4 am to finish it. I wanted to love this book but in the end I strongly liked it.

(view spoiler)
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Lecia Cornwall lives and writes in Calgary, Canada, amid the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate Lab, and one very patient husband. She is hard at work on her next book.

Other books in the series

The Archer Family (3 books)
  • All the Pleasures of the Season (The Archer Family #1.5)
  • The Price of Temptation (The Archer Family #2)

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