The Countess was my very first novel, published in 1978 under the title The Autumn Countess. Even at that amazingly young age, I still realized that I should write about something I knew. Since I'd grown up reading Georgette Heyer and my master's degree is in nineteenth-century European history, it wasn't much of a mental stretch -- a Regency romance. Well, sort of.
As it turned out, The Autumn Countess danced into the bookstores not as a Regency, but as a Gothic masquerading as a Regency.
I've rewritten the novel extensively to make it even more unabashedly Gothic in form, texture, and content, including use of the first-person narration in the classic Gothic style.
Andrea Jameson, unlike the conventional Gothic heroine, isn't a destitute governess. She's young, rich, and toothsome, and adores her Dandle Dinmont terrier, George. However, Andrea doesn't have a single dream of meeting Mr. Right, marrying, and living happily ever after. Go figure.
She strikes a bargain with an older widowed earl who promises her all the razzle-dazzle without the obey part. She's perfectly happy with the deal until she meets the earl's nephew and realizes fairly quickly that she might have made an exceptional blunder.