Friday, January 10, 2014

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

The Basics:
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
Book Three in The Brothers Sinister series
Historical Romance
Published December 17, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership...even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.

Why I picked up this book:

I'm a fan of Courtney Milan, I liked historical romance and I have a novella and novel from earlier in the series to read (though I haven't read them yet, and this breaks with my normal insistance on reading series books in order)

My thoughts:

I loved this one. My heart was breaking for Violet before the end of the first chapter, when Sebastian announces an end to presenting Violet's work. The subsequent chapters provide more information about them as individuals and why this tension exists between them even though they've been working together as friends for so long.

What really works for me about The Countess Conspiracy is that I never felt like either character was treating the other wildly unfairly. They were both motivated by good reasons and watching them try to overcome those fears and secrets and difficulties had me racing through the pages to get to the end.

I loved that these two know each other so well already that they have a secret language, that they can read each other's smiles and smirks in ways that everyone else cannot. The history between them makes Violet and Sebastian's romance all the sweeter. There's so much love and caring already between them, I enjoyed reading as they tried to navigate unexpected new relationship territory.

The tension over Violet's secret work and what would/could happen to her and her family if it was exposed had me grumbling, but not because it didn't fit with the setting or story. I liked the tie-ins to earlier books in the series (which I will now go and read),

There isn't an identifiable villain - the issues are Violet's perceived improprieties (alongside the romantic plot which dominates the book, of course), and Sebastian's efforts to convince his brother that he's a worthy guardian for his nephew. These issues were not light-hearted, but despite their gravity, I still had reason to smile while reading this. I also thought the romance was perfectly balanced with these problems.

Bottom line:

Strongly recommended. The Countess Conspiracy was very satisfying with a sweet romance, a smart heroine and a hero who would do almost anything for her.

Courtney Milan is one of my go-to authors. I find her books to be of a reliable quality. There's an equality and respect between hero and heroine - I never feel like one is at a disadvantage with the other which can sometimes be a problem with historical romance. Even with my high expectations, The Countess Conspiracy delivered.

5 stars
For fans of Courtney Milan, historical romance, clever heroines and the men who love them.

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