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Three and one half moon gifHarper Collins (Paperback), ISBN 0061098841
Rich, handsome German count Rudiger (Rudi) von Drachenfels possesses everything a woman could possibly want, including a drafty old castle and a family curse. Every von Drachenfels' bride, for 20 straight generations, died giving birth to the family heir, because of the first count's infidelity to his magically gifted wife.  

Book: Helena Dela, The CountNevertheless, Rudi's ball-breaking girlfriend Nadine believes he would make the perfect mate once the family curse disposes of the heir-bearing first wife. Enter Ella, a shell-shocked widow of 18 months. If Ella were a color, she'd be gray. Gray skin from walking London's wintry streets because she can't afford the Tube. Gray from living in a squalid flat while mourning the untimely death of her wonderfully loving and talented husband. Ella sent invitation after invitation to the Grim Reaper without results. She even contemplates hiring a hitman but lacks the energy to look one up.  

Drawn together by Ella's boss (an old friend of Rudi's); count and commoner agree to marry. Rudi promises take care of Ella in a manner delightful to become accustomed to if Ella does her bit and produces the requisite heir.  

If it sounds like you want to stop reading right there, don't. The best is yet to come. Ella's flash-frozen spirit defrosts when it comes in contact with Rudi's innate courtly manners, gentleness, honesty and concern for her. And Ella's personality and brash bravery in dealing with the musty old castle's ghostly denizens gains her powerful allies in the battle to bring her true love to her side.  

Helena Dela writes a winning first novel, complete with exceedingly well-defined leads whose motivations and personalities spring to life on page one. However, I would have loved to read the contract that solved all their marital problems. Still, if someone asked me if I believed in curses before I read The Count, I would've answered with a resounding "No!" Now, I'd answer, "Well…" thanks to The Count's knack for suspending my disbelief. 

Suzanne Frisbee

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