My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
The second book of Kate McKinley’s By Invitation Only series, A Countess by Chance, was nice and short and as usual, I liked the author’s writing style. I was enough engrossed in this story to read on. But I didn’t think it was really memorable in any way.
This story is set in the same house party that we saw in book 1, A Duchess in the Dark. If you haven’t read book 1, you might wanna try that to learn how ‘smart’ our host James is. You’ll find more proof of his ‘smartness’ here as well aka more lame advises on how to detect a girl who has recently been diverged of her virginity. Don’t.even.ask!
Adam, our H, the new Earl of Huntington joins in. He attends, only to find that woman of his dreams, the woman who tormented him for the last 2 years after jilting him for a better prospect, Olivia, is also attending this house party. Adam is determined to taunt her to have a little fun at her expense. Can’t say I blamed him all that much when I learned of what Olivia did to him. However, being a girl, I also understood why Olivia had to do it in order for a suitor with better financial prospect than Adam's at that time. Adam certainly hadn’t forgotten, just as Olivia herself.
Olivia had to do it because of her family. Their attraction was apparent since the first meeting on James and Margaret’s wedding (come to think of it, the pair of book 1 also first met at the same wedding :/) and though she wanted Adam, Olivia had no other option. IMO, this whole story of Olivia jilting Adam is a bit vague as the story moves forward from page 1. Olivia keeps saying she feels guilty of what she did, yet I didn’t think she really regretted it. Her admissions of guilt were not that prominent. I particularly didn’t like her thoughts on trapping unsuspecting people present at the house party to play a hand of whist with her so that she can win some money and help her family. Her the then suitor has died of an unfortunate bee attack and she has been embroiled in scandal because of the way she was found with him... with an almost dead man, mind you! She doesn’t have many prospects anymore due to that scandal.
No matter, Adam was hurt back then. Things have certainly changed for him as he’s now rich and titled. This is his chance to turn the table on Olivia, right?
While Adam is contemplating about it, Olivia decides to rely on her not-so-perfect witty self to breeze through it all and ignore Adam for the duration of the house party. However, that proves impossible once Adam is in her view and all she can think of how, once, she liked being touched or kissed by him... better yet, how much she just wants to throw herself at him. When this tormenting-business goes a little out of hand (a$$ spanking can do that to people ;p), Adam finds that he, after all these years, still wants Olivia in his life. But Olivia... um, she’s still unsure, though she lets Adam kiss and fondle her.
I know, Adam has said some unfortunate stuff to her in front of the people, and I’d definitely slap him for the one about that particular scandal but I thought Olivia deserved some of those on her own.
The debacle at the end with one very determined girl, who has been after Adam since the day he arrived and the subsequent duel seemed too convenient to get the distractions out of the story. And Olivia’s recklessness was not at all commendable, no matter the reason. I remember reading the same thing in another story and I was annoyed at the heroine just the same because the hero gets shot, thanks to her.
Overall, I could see the attraction between Adam and Olivia and I thought there were some enjoyable moments but that’s about it. I wasn’t really sure of how much of this ‘lust’ between them was actually ‘love’.
I do understand it’s tough to pull off a story with a sense of completion in a novella-length book but that’s where the author’s expertise lies. In my defense I can only say, I’ve read better. 3.5 stars just because I’m still interested in book 3 in hopes of a better, more engaging storyline.
This ARC was provided to me by Grand Central/Forever via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.