February 18, 2014

The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan

The Countess Conspiracy book cover Courtney Mlian
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #3
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: December 16, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley || e-galley
[I received this book for review. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership...even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good. (from Goodreads)

Whenever I'm in a reading slump, I can always count on a historical romance to help me take the first few steps out of it. The Countess Conspiracy was no different, delighting me with its light (in the vein of Julia Quinn, if I were to name a similar author), romantic tale featuring the rakish Sebastian Malheur and the guarded Violet Waterfield, Countess of Cambury.

Violet Waterfield, the titular countess, is a surprising contradiction. She withdraws from other people, holding them an arm's length away. She doesn't betray her emotions, maintaining a calm, composed air in front of the world. But Violet is also clever - so clever, in fact, that she's made multiple scientific discoveries about the inheritance of traits. She also cares for others, even with her lack of demonstrativeness. But her biggest contradiction comes to light when her feelings for Sebastian threaten to crack the solid, stone-like exterior she's managed to maintain all these years. 

Sebastian Malheur, on the other hand, was extremely easy to love. He's, quite simply, led a charmed life. The one thing that makes him essentially Sebastian is the way he has with people; he draws them in and makes them feel good. That's not the most attractive thing about him, however. What really will make readers swoon are his feelings for Violet, and how genuine they are.

When The Countess Conspiracy begins, they are best friends. It immediately becomes clear that they've known each other for nearly all their lives, which adds history to their interactions. Plus, the romance is simmering from the start, as readers will note that it's painfully obvious that Sebastian loves Violet. But as it is revealed that Violet has the same feelings, and the flames of that relationship keep on growing larger, it's just fun (and full of feels) to watch it happen.

One other thing that I really liked about this book was the science. It was really interesting to read tidbits featuring Violet's work in her greenhouse, and seeing how her mind would translate it into actual theories that Sebastian would then present. These theories of inheritance were briefly touched upon when I was studying biology, so I could understand most of it. Plus, props to the author for tackling the relationship between females and science in this particular historical period! Courtney mentions more about that in her author's note, which I'd encourage all readers to check out.

I've already mentioned the two aspects of The Countess Conspiracy that work in its favor: the surprising, well-done use of science, and the romance that induces all the right feels. However, it also does fall short in other areas. Violet refuses to let emotion take over, and spends most of her life focused on science, so it's actually not too surprising that the tone of the story would occasionally be logical and academic. Apart from its tone, it also flitted between being extremely interesting and overly dramatic, which was slightly off-putting.

All in all, however, The Countess Conspiracy was an enjoyable read. Courtney Milan does know how to write an intense romance, paired with a unique storyline (scientific discoveries - who knew they'd work so well in this genre?). It definitely kept me up till the wee hours because of my extreme feels, and that encourages me to try more of her novels soon!


  1. Oh, this one sounds like a lot of fun - definitely not my normal read, but kind of like a little palette cleanser, like you said! Plus, how can you go wrong with a rakish hero? Lovely review, Alexa :)

  2. This is a beautiful cover for a self-published book! And it sounds fun, unlike most historical romances, which are more serious than anything else. But the FEELS sounds like something I'd love to experience more than anything. I must find out more about the first two books! Great review, Alexa :)

  3. Romance + historical + science sounds like a great premise for a romance!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  4. I agree so much with your first line! A good historical romance always puts me in a happy mood. I like that this one includes a couple that has known each other for years, and that you get to see them discover their feelings and the feelings of the other person. It sounds delicious! It's also always fun when these characters have secret interests, and I love the idea that the Countess likes science. Thanks for telling me about this one!

  5. ohh the science of this sounds super intriguing - that always appeals to me in books since i was a bio major! I'll have to check this one out!

  6. I'm planning to read more historical romance this year so maybe I'll start with this series =)


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