Sunday, February 28, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Accidental Countess

*This is just my opinion, my personal take on any given book, use as a reference. I will not be overly gushing. I will also endeavor not to give too much of the plot away.
I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book, or try not to.*

The Accidental Countess~By Michelle Willingham
Harlequin Historical Feb 2010 288 pages

Visit Michelle's site HERE

I will say right up front, that as far as Harlequin Historicals go, Michelle is one of my favorites, her Irish Warrior series (the ones I have read) are indeed wonderful, Her Warrior Slave is excellent.

Imagine my disappointment then, to read this. I was excited, the Victorian era (my fav) plus Michelle, I settled down with a cup of Earl Grey tea for a long, satisfying read.

First off, the hero appeals, Stephen Chesterfield, the Earl of Whitmore, is a man who awakens to find a woman nagging him and threatening to poison him, for things he did but could not remember. Stephen is endearing in his confusion, the heroine however, came across as a shrew right out of the gate.
Stephen is suffering from amnesia, always a good plot point, and it certainly had potential here, Stephen cannot remember the last 3 months, nor his marriage to the seemingly harpy-ish Emily Barrow, the daughter of a Baron. Emily has not had an easy life, poverty nipping at her heels, now she is the main care giver for her late brother's children.

I rolled my eyes, oh no, children in the story! I am not a big fan of children in romance books, except maybe historical westerns. But they thankfully were only prominent in a couple of scenes,
And I have to admit, Stephen tentatively reaching out to these poor kids was touching. Nothing like a Victorian hunk staying up all night with a baby, holding her, walking with her, to calm her down. Emily finds them the next morning with the girl sleeping on Stephen's chest, while he snores in a large chair. Awww.
But as I continued to read, even the hero was starting to get on my nerves.
These two are continually at odds, misunderstandings abound, and the characters are both wildly schizophrenic, in one scene, Emily is a frightened little mouse, in the next, she is standing up to Stephen's imperious father, the Marquess, something even Stephen himself has never done.

And under all this is the sexual tension, such as it was, as Emily is secretly in love with her husband, and her marriage of convenience, hurts. Understandable. They were childhood friends, and Stephen married her to rescue her from her poverty. A week after the marriage he disappeared, until he showed up again 3 months later. Various subplots involving why Stephen was gone 3 months, and why someone is trying to kill him, and Emily as well, were mediocre at best. I won't go into detail here.

But the conflicts between the hero and heroine felt forced, she won't obey him, he does things behind her back, they argue and pick away at each other, he grabs her and kisses her, she melts in his arms. It did get tiresome, I have to admit.

Now, the book is well written, and I did enjoy it to a point. I guess my expectation bar was set really high here, and the book failed to reach my preconceived expectations. I know that happens when a fav author doesn't come up to one's hopes. Not every book can be a home-run.
But this is a solid double (excuse the baseball metaphors, spring training is around the corner, I am excited) It wasn't a total loss. Some reviews called this book very average. I would agree, maybe give it a little more, because Stephen really was a fine hero, Emily however, annoyed me to no end.
Fortunately, when I read a romance, I relate to the hero more, I do not place myself in the heroine's place when I read. I felt Emily did not deserve Stephen.
The mystery sub plots were resolved in a neat and tidy way, not overly exciting, but not boring either.
Yeah, I guess this was average. Now I am not sure I will be reading the next book in the duet, 'The Accidental Princess". This time I will wait and read a few reviews first before deciding.
I guess this review is as schizophrenic as the characters, LOL! I wanted so much to love this, and I didn't. But it wasn't a total mess either. Decide for yourself.

2 and a half stars out of 4

KOVER KUDOS: Very attractive cover, the colors are lush and appealing. I can even forgive there is no male model on the cover, LOL!
3 out of 4 Stars for the cover~


Shelby said...

May I recommend reading 'The Black Lyon' and the Velvet Quartet by Jude Devereaux if you have not already. Very very good books! You will love the Montgomery men!!!

(Velvet Quarter - The Velvet Promise, Highland Velvet, Velvet Song, and Velvet Angel)

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...


Thank you so much for the recommendation, I have never read any books by that author! I will put it on my wish list immediately, cheers!