Caroline's Reviews > The Runaway Countess

The Runaway Countess by Leigh LaValle
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May 03, 2012

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Read from May 03 to 04, 2012

A lacklustre debut novel with plot holes aplenty and a shaky control of narrative structure.

Instead of sending a female pickpocket to jail and possibly capital punishment, the Lord Lieutenant of the district decides to place the defiant and articulate prisoner under house arrest in his own stately home. Among several reasons for this odd behaviour is a plan to extract from his prisoner the name of her highwayman accomplice.

The rest of the novel is a drawn-out description of a repetitious push-pull relationship, with Trent and Maizie pushed apart by their mutual distrust, and pulled together by their romantic attraction.

The almost inevitable revelation that Maizie is of aristocratic blood and her crimes were motivated by a desire to help the impoverished seems to add little impetus to the story. Hints abound of a secret connection between the wealthy victims of the crimes, but the nature of this connection is glossed over in a few paragraphs at the end.

Neither Trent, the lord of the manor, nor Maizie, the noble thief, evoke much sympathy from the reader. The sexual attraction and ultimate consummation are spicy and straightforward but the lack of psychological insight into the characters of the lovers leaves one wondering why Trent is so fixated on 'justice' and why Maizie is so desperate to protect the identity of her partner in crime.

Also why two apparently intelligent individuals seem incapable of picking up on the dozens of glaring hints the author provides the reader.
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