Monday, October 5, 2015

The Abandoned Countess: Abigail's Story, by Shannon Salter

Smashwords, ISBN 9781291682465, December 2013

This book does need a better copyedit. There are also incidents of "Abigail does obviously stupid thing because PLOT."

Despite that, this is a fun book. In Regency England, during the period when Napoleon was imprisoned on Elba, Abigail Crawford, Countess of Raybourne, is searching for information about her missing husband. Two years previously, just a few weeks after their wedding, the Earl disappeared without a trace. It became a scandal that drove Abigail from most polite society; however, she has a few friends, such as her dear friend Sophia Jacobs, who are still loyal. returning one evening from a failed rendezvous with a potential informant who had identified himself only as "JB" in the note he sent, she and her coachman find an injured, unconscious man by the side of the road. They bring him to her home, and send for the doctor to treat his wounds. Initially, he has no memory. When it seems his memory might be returning, he vanishes.
She soon learns that her mystery guest is her friend Sophia's brother Kaiden Jacobs, returning ostensibly from an extended visit to the family's estates in the West Indies. He's been gone over two years, since shortly before Abigail and Sophia met during their shared Season, and he and Abigail had never previously met.

When Sophia uses her brother's return to push Abigail into returning to Society, she meets other people who claim to be willing to help find word of her missing husband. Some of them have malevolent intentions, but why?

Kaiden, Edward, and some of Abigail's new acquaintances turn out to all have some very dangerous secrets, and her search for the truth will take her to some very dangerous places.

Now, some of what Abigail does is just inexcusably reckless and stupid, and hard to justify since Abigail isn't a stupid woman. It helps move the plot along, but a hard-eyed editor could have pushed Salter to do it in ways truer to Abigail's character. Even despite that, though, Abigail is smart, courageous, and resourceful, and she and the love interest, whom I won't identify to avoid spoilers, rescue each other more than once.

The risk indie authors run is that they won't properly appreciate the importance of a professional, impartial editor, and also a professional copyeditor. Salter seems to have fallen into that trap to some extent, but this is still a fun, enjoyable, light read for Regency fans.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book from Reading Deals Review Club so that I could provide an honest review.