Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Book Review: The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

Summary (from Goodreads.com)

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.

When I read the blurb of this book at the library, the debut novel of Eve Edwards, I knew that it was the kind of book that I would love. To be immersed in the Tudor world filled with intrigue in the courts of Queen Elizabeth I mixed together with love at all odds…. What could be better?

It turned out that I was right in the end and I couldn’t tear myself away from it. Everything about it was so lovely and well thought out with characters that I warmed to and believable and witty dialogue.


It was the characters in the book that made this book so gorgeous and stand far above the countless predictable 'will they, will they not' historical romances. Even though the book is told in the third person, different chapters follow the lives of the main characters in the book and we are given an insight into the point of view of these characters through this.

My favourite character was the heroine Ellie or Lady Eleanor Rodriguez of San Jaime, who owns a worthless Spanish title inherited from her late mother. She is a sensitive and sweet girl with a fun filled nature but with a feisty and strong willed spirit that comes out in her at times along with a tendency to be very defensive of herself when she is offended. Unusually for girls like her at that time she is very learned and well educated in the languages of Greek and Latin to much amusement and suspicion at court, where unmarried young ladies are sought after for their dowries. Her father is an alchemist who is obsessed with his work and often doesn't care to think of how his quest to find gold affects his daughter and the kind of life she is condemned to because of it. I sympathised with Ellie on this and sensed her frustration in her fruitless attempts to open his eyes to how the world views him and his work. Since she is a pretty young lady made destitute by her father's lifestyle, Ellie is also very vulnerable of being pursued by young men offering her their protection. Yet through all her ill fate and spoilt reputation she manages to stay true to herself and.

Will, the eighteen year old Earl of Dorset who is burdened with the responsibility of restoring his family's lost fortune, frittered away by his late father . Knowing that the future of his mother and younger siblings is in his hands, he must win the favour of the Queen and endeavour to impress young ladies suitable for matrimony. At the beginning of the book aged just fourteen, Will was a character that it was difficult to like because of his cruel manner and hostility towards Ellie and her father. Believing him and his alchemy practices to be the cause of his family's financial ruin, he throws them out of the household penniless. Yet, given the circumstances of his father's recent death, his actions can be forgiven a little. It was nice to see Will grow as a character throughout the book and see his true personality that was hidden under the fears and worries of his duties and responsibilities. Through the later stages of the book, he was the kind of young gentlemen that every girl would dream of; caring and chivalrous with a playful and witty sense of humour. I'm sure that lots of readers have fallen head over heels in love with him!

Besides Will and Ellie there are other sideline characters such as Lady Jane Perceval, who isslightly vain rich heiress but through her friendship with Ellie, a loyalty grows between them and I liked seeing in the development in her character. I'm looking forward to finding out more about Jane's story in the sequel to The Other Countess, The Queen's Lady. There is also James and Tobias (Will's younger brothers) who bring a touch of lighthearted fun in their comical brotherly teasing. I loved how each of the characters (including the minor ones) each had a story of their own which followed through the book to create a strong plot and memorable cast of characters,

More about the plot

When Ellie is staying at court with her father (who is working under the patronage of Lord Mountjoy) four years after her last encounter with Will, they meet again. A little afraid of Will to start off with, she soon realises that he doesn't recognise her for the girl he hates and resents and warily tries to enjoy his attention before he finds out the truth about who she really is.
Despite their past and feuds between their families, their relationship blossoms into affection and friendship that desires to grow. However, the rules of society forbids them to ever be together and Will has his duty to his family to think of. Ellie has nothing to offer him but his potential bride Lady Jane has the money that can save Lacey Hall and for his family to live in comfort again. Can they learn that love brings greater fortune than gold?

I felt that the book was well paced and the love between Will and Ellie grew at a natural pace and it wasn't a 'love at first sight' romance, which made their relationship seem more realistic. The bond and vibe that they shared was so lovely and they really brought out the best in each other, they're my favourite couple now!
Setting and descriptions
Not just a romance, Edwards brings life under the reign of Elizabeth to life with beautiful and enthralling descriptions that highlight so many delicious details for the reader to devour. They are the sort of things that you wouldn't know from reading a non- fiction historical information book from all the fine details of Elizabethan fashion to jousting tournaments. At court we meet real life people such as the infamous Sir Walter Ralegh (there was a different slant on his character that I found interesting and probably more realistic than the dashing descriptions of him in other books) and the Queen herself. Besides hearing about the rich and famous, Edwards gave an insight into the lives of the commoners in the village near Lacey Hall and how they find their 'perfect match,' creating a contrast between the two lifestyles.  Real issues such as religion and politics also have a mention in the story which really adds an extra dimension to the world that goes beyond the main characters.

Verdict: The Other Countess was a delightful and sweet historical romance with captivating and vivid descriptions that I found myself lost in for hours... I adored it! The characters are easy to relate to for a modern audience and they now have a special place in my heart.  Be prepared to be swept off your feet by this irresistible tale and into the Elizabethan era and savour every moment of it!

The sequel to The Other Countess, The Queen's Lady is being released in February 2011 and I can't wait to read it. I have a feeling the Lacey Romance series is going to become one of my favourites.

Make sure you visit Eve Edward's website for the fabulous book trailer, historical information and other great content. She is also running a competition to win a copy of The Other Countess which closes at the end of September so don't miss your chance. See the website for more details about how to enter.


  1. Nice review and book!
    I will give it a try:)
    Thanks fore reviewing!

    Yiota @ Splash Of Our Worlds

  2. Sounds like a great book, I'll have to see if I can pick this one up at my local library!

  3. This looks like a good book. I love historical fiction! Thanks for the review
    Marcie from To Read or Not To Read

  4. The romance between Ellie and Will sounds cute - often those 'dislike-at-first-sight' relationships are so much fun!

  5. I'm glad that my review has helped a few of you to find a good book to add to your wishlist. I'm sure you'll love reading it, let me know what you think!
    Danya- I love those kind of romances too :)

  6. Glad you decided to read this book - wasn't it wonderful? I can't wait to read book 2 and I just saw on the author's website that there will be a book 3 as well!

  7. I like the sound of this one. Thanks for highlighting it!

  8. Oh, I love this book.
    You know, it's really funny how similar taste in books I think I may have with you.
    Got to love a bit of historical romance :)


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