Laurie's Reviews > Romancing the Countess

Romancing the Countess by Ashley March
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Sep 07, 2011

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bookshelves: library-donations-jan-2013
Read from October 09 to 12, 2011

** spoiler alert ** This was a really hard book for me to rate. At first I was leaning towards 4 stars because it was well written and held my attention throughout, but there were enough things that bothered me about it that I felt I had to give it only 3 stars. Primarily, I had a hard time understanding why Leah acted the way she did at times. For example, she admitted to being lonely even before Ian's death, which was supposedly her motivation for throwing the scandalous house party only four months after the carriage accident. If that were the case, then why would she hatch her plan to wear a scandalous gown and dance on the final night of the house party? Sure, it was a way for Leah to assert her freedom from both a miserable marriage and the restrictive rules of the ton, but it was also guaranteed to get her exiled from society, thus exacerbating her loneliness. It's not like she had all that many friends (or even family members) who would stick by her in spite of the scandal. It almost seems as if Leah wanted everyone to find out about Ian and Angela's affair, which makes no sense. Aside from her agreement with Sebastian to keep the affair a secret for Henry's sake, it seems like she would want to keep it a secret to save herself from further humiliation. There are probably a lot of people who, like Sebastian, would have assumed that Ian cheated because Leah wasn't able to satisfy his desires.

Aside from all of that, if Leah truly wanted to be independent, it seems like she had the perfect situation after Ian died given that her father-in-law had granted her the use of both Linley Park and the London townhouse. After she "served her sentence" (completed the expected period of mourning), she could have returned to society and done just about whatever she pleased as an independent widow, as long as she was discreet. It would have been a vast improvement over having to return to her parents' house and choose between marrying the village butcher or having to make her own way as a companion to a socially inferior widow. Neither of those options would have offered Leah much in the way of freedom or independence!

Speaking of Leah's options after returning to her parents' house, I found it incredibly hard to believe that Leah's social climbing mother would have chosen a butcher to be Leah's second husband. The vicar I can kind of understand, but it seems to me that having a butcher in the family would have been an even bigger source of embarrassment than Leah's scandal.

The other thing that really bothered me about this book was the development of the relationship between Leah and Sebastian. There was nothing about either of their behavior that screamed "true love" to me. There was certainly an attraction there, at least on Sebastian's side, but it was really hard to see his love for Leah grow. While I truly want to believe in their HEA, I can't help but feel that Leah might have been right in fearing that Sebastian wanted to be with her mainly to get back at Ian and Angela for their betrayal. What was it about Leah that made Sebastian fall in love with her? He obviously didn't find her as attractive as Angela - he made that clear early on. I would have liked to see their feelings for each other articulated a bit better so that I could believe in their HEA without reservations.

Overall, this wasn't a terrible book, but neither was it a keeper. The concept was certainly unique for a historical romance (at least in my experience), and despite my problems with some of their decisions and motivations, I truly liked Sebastian and Leah and found myself rooting for them to be happy.
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