More Or Less A Countess by Anna Bradley
This is the second book I’ve read in the Somerset Sisters (after More Or Less A Marchioness) and I really, really liked Violet, the heroine. Violet is a bluestocking, and proud of it. She refuses to simper or make mindless conversation, and consequently most of the shallow young men of London have shunned her. Not that she cares; she’s far too busy writing her book, a guide for young ladies coming to London. Hilariously, she wants to include chapters on history and is determined to thoroughly research some of the more gruesome parts of it, an enormous problem given her very strict and proper grandmother’s rules for behaviour.
When Nicholas, Earl of Dare mistakes her for her shyer sister Hyacinth, Violet decides to take advantage of his offer to take her driving and makes him take her to a cemetery. In need of a well-bred wife, Nick is rather intrigued despite himself by Violet’s eccentricities. His willingness to escort her to places no lady could ever go alone offers Violet something too exciting to resist - freedom. She knows she should tell him the truth, but she can’t quite bring herself to do it.
Of course, things eventually come crashing down on Violet at the worst possible moment and in the worst possible way. She finds herself married to a very, very angry Nick, who in my opinion behaves like an utter hypocrite at this point. He started courting Violet with the full intention of wooing her into a loveless marriage, getting her pregnant and abandoning her while he returned to Italy to live with his mistress. Being angry with her because she misled him to what her first name was seems pretty pathetic. He then manages to compound the disaster by having a fit of jealousy on their wedding night and telling her about his plan to return to Italy and his mistress, which is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle back, especially considering Violet’s innocence.
It wouldn’t be a romance without a happy ending, of course, and it’s a good one. Nick gets over himself and apologises properly, Violet accepts him for who he is even though there are a few more misunderstandings along the way. I really liked the way it was all resolved, with a proper understanding reached between the pair.
Anna Bradley really knows her stuff historically and there were some great (and hilarious!) facts deftly woven into the story, many of them obscure but tempting the reader to further research. Despite many years in London, I’d never heard of the Hunterian Museum, for example, now the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Despite the hero being an utter hypocrite on several occasions during the story, the properly epic level of suffering he achieved and the suitable grovel at the end made me forgive him entirely, and I was very satisfied that Nick and Violet would get their HEA. This was superbly written with lots of conflict, historical detail and great characters growing into each other’s best match. Five stars for a thoroughly entertaining - and educational! - read.
More Or Less A Countess is available now in all major ebook stores.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.