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Judith Lynne
The Caped Countess
Judith Lynne, author

Adult; Romance; (Market)

By day, Lady Donnatella is a duke’s silly daughter. So she can save London lives by night. When she stumbles into something larger than a street fight, everything she's balancing may come crashing down... It's another lonely season for Tella, dancing and gaming madly while keeping marriage away. She cannot tell her family or friends that her true self is the one battling danger in the city's dark streets. Nor will anyone guess; she's perfected her disguise. Then her night-time alter ego is seen — just when she can no longer count on her best friend, or her beloved great-uncle. And the resulting fuss in the newspapers isn't making any of this easier. Nor is the reporter who saw her. Henry Fitzwilliam, third son of a marquess, left London society to serve in the wars, and won’t go back. He’s devoted his life to telling the stories Britain needs to hear, and perhaps this Caped Count falls into that category. He can’t be sure until he gets much, much closer. Tella can handle a fight, but tracking a murderer makes for higher stakes. She might need someone at her back. Fitz might be the worst choice — or he might be more perfect than either of them suspects.
A reporter on the trail of a secretive vigilante finds himself falling for the courageous woman behind the façade in this highly unusual Regency era romance. By day, Donnatella plays the empty-headed Duke’s daughter, but by night she dons a cape laced with gadgets and prowls the streets dressed as a man to foil petty criminals and avenge her mother, who died in a botched robbery years before. When a man connected to a crime she stopped turns up murdered, Donnatella—Tella to her friends—goes on a hunt for the culprit, and in the process uncovers a conspiracy that reaches all the way into the society ballrooms of her daily life.

Tella is used to relying only on herself, and the man who jumps in to interrupt a fight is at first a liability, then an annoyance as he refuses to leave her to handle her investigations alone. When they begin to work together instead of in parallel, dashing Lord Henry Fitzwilliam (“The raw bones of his face fit together in a way that was handsome; and the nose was regal enough to match that posh voice”) eventually learns Tella’s true identity and shocks her by treating her no differently—at least until a proposal of marriage complicates everything.

Despite Fitz’s assurances that he doesn’t want her to change, Tella remains afraid of commitment: She refuses to end her nighttime adventures because she blames herself for her mother’s death, and she’s convinced that anyone who gets close to her will be put in similar danger. This attitude of martyrdom persists through most of the book, making Tella a slightly frustrating heroine, but Fitz’s charm, warmth, and increasing ardor more than balance it out. Though historical accuracy is questionable at best, those who enjoy some whimsy and fun in their historical romance will love this adventurous tale. If you’ve been searching for a gender-bent Regency era Batman in love, this is your book.

Takeaway: A swashbuckling Regency romance alive with adventure, passion, and secret identities.

Great for fans of: Donna Thorland’s The Rebel Pirate, Lisa Kleypas’s The Ravenels series.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Reissued - new cover!

While its original cover was both evocative and apt, The Caped Countess has been reissued with a fresh new cover with a style that highlights the action/adventure nature of these Regency romances.