The Other Countess.

11:38 AM

The Other Countess (The Lacey Chronicles, #1)The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rating: 5 stars

OHMYGOD, I LOVE THIS BOOK~!! Love, love, love IT! Alright, now to be fair, historical fiction is one of my favourite genres anyways, especially when there's romance involved. It just brings out the girly-girl in me. But even if you aren't a huge historical fiction buff, I think you would still like it. THAT is how a good book should be. And this one is one, mostly 'cos the romance runs parallel with larger issues related in that period. Okay, now before I go gushing any further, I will do a quick rundown of the plot.

The story has two main characters Eleanor Hutton & William Dorset. Both are equal characters and the story is told from both their point of views. Ellie is a girl with a Spanish Title that deems her a Countess, passed down from her mother who had passed away. The title held very little meaning as she lives in England. Furthermore, she is completely penniless thanks to her father's obsession with alchemy (spending all their money on ingredients for his experiments). Her father's alchemy has also caused her to be on bad terms with many families as he is viewed as a menace with his lab explosions and for dragging many families down with him, as they finance his experiments. One such family was the Dorset family (Will's). Will is the Earl of Dorset, after his father passed away, leaving his family scrambling to survive after spending all his fortunes on alchemy experiments with Ellie's father. Because of this, Will hated the Hutton family and had to marry for money (finding a woman with a large dowry) in order to save his own family and estate. But things start getting messy when both start to fall for each other. It's a match that cannot be. Especially in a troubled time when there is a Catholic uprising threatening the Queen.

Where do I start?! Hmm, okay, firstly the writing is fan-freakin'-tastic. I've read a substantial amount of historical fiction and I usually don't like YA ones much, simply 'cos they tend to simplify some of the language and customs used. This one really surprised me with such beautiful prose that is reminiscent of Austen. It is written in a way that I am immediately transported to that era. There was no need for lengthy descriptions on the setting (which can be total drag sometimes), as the way the writer wrote this conjures up the perfect atmosphere. The banter between characters is sparkling. The dialogue stands out by not being too dated while still staying true to the ways of that period. It's fresh and witty, without trying too hard. Another plus point is how the plot revolves around a love story in a context of something larger. There is substantial plot-building on the Catholic threat and how people are turned to extremists in the name of religion and loyalty to the country. Also, each character is plagues with the dilemma of following their heart and doing their duty.

Speaking of the characters, they are such a breath of fresh air! Ellie is not the usual damsel in distress, but also not the stereotypical rebellious heroine either. She is an intelligent young lady who bears the burden of her father's actions with grace and dignity. I really liked her ALOT. She's not so chaste and angelic, but not disillusioned. Ellie understands the limitations life has brought her and does the best with what she has got. Also, she's still flawed often torn between love/devotion and selfishness (like how she loves her father but wants to run away from him at times). She feels like a REAL PERSON and extremely relateable. Will is also a great character 'cos he is not the typical knight in shining armour. He is not a rich earl who would save Ellie in every single situation. At times, he too makes stupid mistakes but not due to his arrogance but merely due to lack of better judgement or in order to protect his family. You can see how torn he is between his duty to provide for his family & the villagers that count on him and his heart. I really sympathize and feel for him. I love how he works with what he has 'cos life is usually far from the ideal. This makes his character far more charming and gallant, in his unashamed nature and all of his flaws.

What's great about this book is also that there are no "proper" villains, like some historical novels. Everyone has a bit of good and evil in them, some more than others. I love the development of Lady Jane who started out as an aloof, disillusioned girl who is rather spoilt. But after knowing how she is battling her own demons and mistakes, I warmed up to her. She grows so much as she befriends Ellie and learns how to become a better person. The vile characters who I hate (like Sir Henry) are not really "evil" per say. They are just selfish.

This story also sheds light on the dangers of being too extreme and how religion can be a handicap rather than something that brings you enlightenment. The Christian and Catholic extremists here reflect on a period where social rules are constructed from religion and that your individual wants should come second to the country and the Queen. It's frustrating but it adds a real depth to the circumstances the characters are in. Life back then was not all corsets, balls and carriages. There are grave social issues and stigmas that have yet to be addressed and overcome.

AND THE ROMANCE! I literally am like...


Gosh, it is absolutely swoon-worthy without being too over the top. It is the PERFECT amount of mushy stuff. The fact that the author doesn't write it from one point of view makes such that the reader can really see how the characters feel and how genuine their love was. Will didn't have to come ridding in a white stallion to save Ellie from some doomed fate and they didn't have to proclaim their love with extravagant phrases. It's the little things like Will riding past Ellie's place just to catch a glimpse of her and Ellie refusing Will so that he can be happy with his marriage of convenience. IT IS SO HEART-WARMING. Often I find myself grinning from ear to ear while reading a particularly witty conversation between them or LITERALLY SIGHING with contentment at the ending. It's just so so genuine to me. Their attraction lies further than mere looks. None of those raunchy over the top scenes, Ellie and Will seem to accept one another as they are.

Also, the ending is such a breath of fresh air. There is no fairy tale ending, no happily ever after. Things are still shaky, uncertain. The future is still a huge question mark, but that is precisely why I love it. Life, in general, is a huge question mark. The writer leaves the readers content with how she wraps things up, whilst still giving a realistic representation of what's to come. There are consequences for their actions and she reflects that in her ending. But it did not lose it's romantic charm, making me sigh with contentment and happiness. 'Cos even though not everything was resolved, there is hope that it will be. Which to me, such a fresh take on an otherwise cliched ending.

AAHHH~! I honestly can ramble on and on about how much I like this book, especially since I honestly did not expect to like it as much as I did. The quality of the writing, plot and the romance... It's just perfect for me. There are lots of complex details and added dimension to the stories and characters and it's just such an impressive piece of historical fiction. And I really enjoy Eve Edwards's writing a whole lot. She's definitely on my list of favourite writers now and I CANNOT wait to read the next book in this series. It's just so enjoyable.


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