Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Review: The Other Countess
Release date: 1st July 2010
Genre: Historical / YA Historical Romance
Target audience: 12+
Summary from Goodreads:
It's 1582 and eighteen-year-old Will Lacey's family is in trouble. After years of wasteful spending, his late father has run Lacey Hall to near ruin. Tasked with marrying his family back into fortune, the new Earl of Dorset is all set for a season at court to woo not just the Queen but potential brides with his jousting skills. But when Ellie – a strong-willed girl with nothing to her name but a worthless Spanish title – catches Will's eye, he faces a bigger battle than he could ever have anticipated.
After reviewing two rather mediocre books, I was so delighted to read The Other Countess and find that it was so completely unputdownable! I am rather in love with a story which is about just that: Love against all the odds. When you add in the historical setting (complete with knights jousting), how can you not fail to swoon? Okay perhaps if you're a feminist you're thinking this is a princess story but actually it isn't!
The characters are very cleverly casted. Ellie -- our heroine -- is a headstrong girl with a sharp tongue. She is not afraid to act outside of the social and cultural bevavioural expectations of women. She is well-educated and translates works in Latin and even Greek. She is a young woman burdened with an obsessed father. She also happens to be destitute and at the mercy of male benefactors.
William is a young man who is carrying his own burden in the form of family duty. His father wasted the family fortune and now he is left with the responsibility of finding a way to restore their fortunes. He is a handsome earl with a prejudice against the man who led his father into his obsession with alchemy. That man happens to be Ellie's father. Their two stories are intertwined from the very beginning. William is rather foolish at times but his relationships with his brothers was wholly endearing and showed an adorable softness beneath an angry and arrogant persona.
The plot is expertly paced with great cliffhanger chapter endings that just kept me wanting more. The dialogue is both endearing and amusing and I loved the way that Edwards gave this historical book a contemporary feel without it becoming absurd. I admire her skill.
In addition to the romantic theme of the novel, Edwards explored the issues of religion and alchemy. William is employed to ensure that Catholicism is kept out of his lands. There is a fear of an attempt on Queen Elizabeth's life by the Pope's spies and staunchest supporters. I liked the way the author remained unbiased to both religion and alchemy. As the reader, you could interpret the consequences of extremism where both belief systems were concerned.
Overall, this is a story that swept me away with its majesty of courtly drama, family politics and love across a social divide. I am completely enamoured of The Other Countess and the Earl of Dorset. This book has a timeless will they? won't they? appeal. Fans of The Luxe series will love this novel. Eve Edwards' debut stole my heart. I just did not want to put down. More please!
Thank you to Penguin Books for sending me the book to review.