EPPIE Award Finalist for Best Historical Romance
Writing my award-winning Regency romance, THE CONTRARY CONTESSA, was a labor of love. I wanted to have a different setting for this Regency, so the first part of the book is set in Sicily, with the latter taking place in York, England, which, as a side note, has the reputation of being the most haunted city in Europe.
I’ve never been to Italy or Sicily, so getting the flavor of the land and surroundings was the most difficult part. I do have an Italian and English background, and I was happy to combine both heritages in this lively Regency!
This novel deals with one man's prejudice against his own family. He has a ready dislike of anything or anyone non-English, and when his father marries a lady from Sicily... well, Robert Weston is seriously displeased. Too bad, says his stepsister, Lexia Cappello, the Contessa di Fabrianni. Unaware of the Sicilian tradition of "Fortuna"--true love--Robert gave Lexia the four colors of roses--red, white, yellow, and pink. She and he are destined to marry, no matter what he thinks!
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Because of the Sicilian tradition of “Fortuna”, Lexia Cappello believes she is destined to marry her stepbrother, the Marquess of Rutherford. Robert Weston, however, has a ready dislike of anything or anyone non-English. Can she convince this obstinate lord that his ignoble prejudice stands in the way of his future happiness?
ALL IN THE FAMILY: At first Robert Weston is annoyed, then intrigued by his new-found Sicilian stepsister. The more he resists her, the more he finds he yearns to possess her. Can he overcome his pride to admit the error of his ways and win the Contrary Contessa’s heart?
Artist’s concept cover
I truly enjoyed “living” in Lexia Cappello’s character. Out of all the heroines in my books, I’d say she is the one most unlike me. What a saucy minx! As you’ll find out, she has Robert Weston, the Marquess of Rutherford, wrapped around her feminine, little finger. :))
THE CONTRARY CONTESSA was published by at Awe-Struck Books (Mundania Press) and had been with them for many years.
Ebook Cover and Print Cover
I recently decided to have the rights returned to me for all my Awe-Struck books--a total of twelve. THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is the sixth to be re-released. It’s now available on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com!
Lord Rutherford has no interest in marrying a non-English matron, but how can he resist his captivating... and contrary stepsister?
*Limited* copies of the 2004 print book are available at www.susanneknight.com/orders.htm
THE CONTRARY CONTESSA has garnered an impressive list of awards and reviews. This book was chosen as finalist in the prestigious EPPIE Awards (now EPIC eBook Award) for Best Historical Romance.
Also, it was a Romance Reader at Heart Top Pick Award Winner, in addition to being a #1 best seller at Fictionwise.com and earning 5 stars at The Romance Studio and Romance Junkies.
This book is part of the prestigious Elegant Regencies line.
Below is a picture of Lexia as a Cosmo Girl, using Cosmopolitan's Virtual Makeover software. She’s perfect, don’t you think?!
For those of you who like to read reviews, here they come!
5 Hearts! This is an excellent Regency romance. It has a little bit of comedy and tons of romance. The plot has some surprising and very pleasing twists. Robert, who is very proper, and Lexia, who is quite bold, make an interesting pair. I highly recommend this fun, entertaining story.-- The Romance Studio
Top Pick Award! Charming and delightful! THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is well written and what I like to call spicy! Lexia is a beautiful Sicilian spitfire who teaches Robert what it is to love someone and accept them for who they are. Gina, Anthony, and Emma are precious and precocious children who added a lot of fun to this story. I absolutely loved this novel. Lexia is a very strong-willed woman who goes after what she wants, which in this case is Robert. Robert had a lot to learn about happiness and love, and thank goodness he realized that you don’t have to live by society’s rules. The twist at the end was the perfect ending for this novel. I cannot wait to read more from Susanne Knight.-- Romance Readers At Heart
5 Blue Ribbons! THE CONTRARY CONTESSA will steal your heart with its humor and warmth. The impish but delightful children provide plenty of laughs and tender moments as they help Robert and Lexia to realize that nothing can stand in the way of true love. Plus, there is a thrilling twist at the end of the story. Susanne Knight has written a great story, filled with plenty of love, comedy, and desire. Italy and England collide in this warm-hearted, romantic tale of true love, Italian style.--Romance Junkies
THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is a charming little Regency, with a twist. We also get the pleasure of learning a bit of Italian culture with this one. Susanne Marie Knight has done a wonderful job of blending the two cultures with the typical results. The horror of the kitchen staff when a member of the nobility enters the kitchen, and not only enters it, but proceeds to cook and clean up! The characters are believable, from Robert’s dislike of anything not English, to Lexia’s passionate nature. I really loved the character Zia Conchetta, Lexia’s aunt. Taciturn and quiet by nature, she still manages to make her disapproval known. If you enjoy a good Regency as much as I do, you don’t want to miss this one!--PNR Reviews
4 Angels! This light-hearted romp is sure to put a smile on readers' faces. Fate has led the pair together; the hero never knowing that he set the course of his own destiny so many years before with his kind actions to an injured little girl. The children are an enhancement to the tale, bring with them a sense of hearty extended Italian family atmosphere to a man who was an only child. Lexia's refreshing opinions about English conventionality and straight-laced respectability are not expected in traditional Regency. She will not be compromised in body or mind, yet her desires and needs shine through as she tries to thaw the heart of the very English brother that she has always seen as her destiny. A thoroughly enjoyable Regency romance!!--Fallen Angel Reviews
4 Roses! THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is an enjoyable story with a few bumps and a twist thrown in to make the lives of Robert, Lexia, and everyone around them a little more unexpected. Well, with the three children that is a given. But throw into the mix an elderly aunt, an almost fiancée and a very good friend that likes spewing Shakespeare whenever he can, you aren’t quite sure what to expect. The antics of the children are just that; children at play with Lexia right in there with them with a few antics of her own. If you like to read a historical romance that isn’t set in London but in the country that has a few ruts and bumps in the story just like the road, then pick up THE CONTRARY CONTESSA.--A Romance Review
THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is a pleasant way to pass the day. Engaging characters account for much of the enjoyment. Lexia Capello possesses a certain joie de vivre that is alluring to both readers and Robert. She is vibrant and exotic; very different from the usual English miss. It is highly amusing to see how Lexia disrupts Robert's conventional English life. His household and his feelings are thrown into utter mayhem, but under her influence, he loses his superior attitude and prejudice, and becomes more likable. Contributing to the chaos in Robert's life are delightful secondary characters such as his younger siblings. They are typical children, wreaking havoc with their playful hijinks. THE CONTRARY CONTESSA is a light-hearted, feel good romance, which I recommend to anyone in need of a quick pick me up.--Romance Reviews Today
Ms. Knight has a real knack for creating distinctly unique characters. Her work is filled with witty, fast paced and engaging dialogue from these fun, interesting people. She obviously did her research well, giving the reader just enough finely woven history and appropriate time and style details on fashion, art, and architecture. The author has crafted a technically well written story filled with lovely language. Satisfying, light entertainment.--NovelSpot Romance Review
I really enjoyed THE CONTRARY CONTESSA!--P.R.
Lexia was a wonderful heroine! I just loved her!--E.A.
I loved, loved THE CONTRARY CONTESSA. Susanne, you are sooo good!--N.W.
Just finished THE CONTRARY CONTESSA and thoroughly enjoyed it!!! I loved your use of the Italian words. It brought back memories!--M.C.
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed THE CONTRARY CONTESSA. Great romance with lots of laughs, for the perfect combination. Thanks for a great read.--S.W.
I really enjoyed the Italian slant of THE CONTRARY CONTESSA! Never read anything like it before. Wonderful story!--M.C.
THE CONTRARY CONTESSA: An excellent story.--K.M.
I am a big fan of your writing. I think you are a very good writer! You should be proud of your hard work, and also for all the joy you bring us fans! Keep up the great work!--T.L.
For THE CONTRARY CONTESSA: Beautifully written.--G.M.
I very much enjoyed THE CONTRARY CONTESSA. It has a great twist at the end.-- D.C.
I loved this book. Thank you!--B.R.
Here’s an excerpt from THE CONTRARY CONTESSA that was inspired from real life. As a child, I learned that it was a “sin” for food to grow cold. When called to dinner, you didn’t dawdle in taking your place at the table. And so, this book is dedicated to my mother “who knows pasta must always be served hot!”
In the scene below, Robert and his friend James Dutton, have just arrived in Sicily to bring Robert’s half siblings back to England. Robert is unaware that his hostess for dinner is not only the Contessa di Fabrianni, but also his stepsister, Lexia.
In the center area of the room stood an extended oblong table, made of highly polished cherrywood. Seating for twelve, however seven place settings presently were arranged on the sleek tabletop. A large ceramic bowl of pasta was already placed near the plates, along a heaping container of mouthwatering tomato sauce and small dishes of finely grated cheese.
The combination of aromas tantalized his senses, caressing him as a lover might, after a long abstinence.
Robert instinctively licked his lips.
“Ah, the signori are hungry, yes?”
To the side of him, poised by a larger painting of the Venetian canals was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. As she turned from the picture to face him, he drank in the sight of her. Dressed in the finest French silk, the woman looked like the queen that he had only minutes before made fun of. Her dark, shiny hair curled in ringlets, was piled high on her head, and was set off with a gold star bandeau.
A pert nose, high cheekbones, and the largest, luminous eyes in the world, the woman fluidly made her way to his side. The motion caused the soft, rounded mounds of her breasts as revealed by her modestly cut décolletage to quiver ever so slightly.
Faith, his mouth suddenly went dry. Dutton was also affected, for he too remained owl-eyed and silent.
“Does no one speak? Is the conversation all up to me?” She dimpled a smile at him.
That smile. Good Lord! She was the Contessa! Somehow she had transformed her ragtag self into a Madonna worthy of every man’s reverent worship. His wits gone begging, he struggled to hide his obvious astonishment.
“With all due respect, Contessa, you are... you are... so different.”
“Ah, Marquess, what sharp eyes you have.”
Damn it all, but Dutton laughed. Leaning over, he whispered into Robert’s ear. “Street urchin, hey?”
The Contessa curved her lips into a Mona Lisa smile, evidently overhearing. “Urchin, eh? That is not what the Marquess called me earlier.”
Blast! Remembering his behavior in the kitchen, Robert flushed. This girl/woman was sharp on the uptake, as sharp as a rapier’s point, while he had displayed the rag manners of a bovine Cit. He could not blame his conduct on the wine. His boorishness was his responsibility. His alone.
With an elegant motion of her long-sleeved arm, she gestured toward Dutton. “You are Signore Dutton, yes?”
His friend made a stately bow. “James Dutton, at your service, ma’am. Thank you for your hospitality on such short notice.”
For the first time, her saucy smile seemed to reach her eyes. She glided over to the table, her assurance evident in every step. “Let us sit, signori. The pasta, it grows cold. In Sicily, there is no worse fate.”
The love of family and the love of food are very important in Lexia’s world, and I like to say this Regency is sprinkled with Sicilian cooking, giving it a special twist! If you love Regency romance, this book’s for you! I hope you enjoy Lexia and Robert’s story.
Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!