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Monday, July 19, 2010

'The Other Countess' Tudor Historical Romance #1 by Eve Edwards

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

England, 1582 -

Lady Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Rodriguez of San Jaime - is in possession of a gold-seeking father, a worthless title and a feisty spirit that captivates the elite of the Queen's court, and none other than the handsome new Earl of Dorset ...

WILLIAM LACEY has inherited his father's title and his financial ruin. Now the Earl must seek a wealthy heiress and restore his family's fortune. But Will's head has been turned by the gorgeous Ellie, yet their union can never be. Will is destined to marry a worthy Lady so the only question is - which one ...?


‘The Other Countess’ is Eve Edward’s debut novel and the first book in her YA ‘Tudor Historical Romance’ series.
This book will be added to my ‘Favourites of 2010’ list – it’s that good!


Edwards takes a little swath of history and makes it her own in this dazzling historical romance, set in 1582 England under the reign of ‘Virgin Queen’ Elizabeth I.

Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Hutton is an alchemist’s daughter. She traipses the country with her addle-brained father, as he hunts for the scientific formula to turn metals into gold. The Hutton’s live on the kindness of misguided lord’s and earl’s who believe Arthur Hutton is the answer to their fortunes. But it is always a matter of weeks or months before the lord’s start losing their money in Hutton’s useless sciences, which often include phoenix tears in the potions. When the novel begins, Ellie is twelve and she and her father are being kicked out of Lacey House, having bankrupted the recently deceased earl. The earl’s son, Will Lacey, throws the Hutton’s off his lands, furious at the alchemist for having made their family destitute.

The novel skips ahead four years to find Ellie and her father housed in the Queen’s court; but Ellie knows it is only a temporary reprieve from their wandering life.
Also at court is William Lacey, Earl of Dorset. Will is 18 and on the hunt for a rich wife, after his father left the family practically penniless and all responsibility on Will’s eldest shoulders;

This wasn’t good enough for James “Will, we’re running short of time.”
“I know that, but this is the rest of my life I am hazarding here, no small matter easily settled. I want at least to know something of the character of the lady I eventually woo and wed.”
Ever pragmatic, James sighed. “To be honest, Will, all that matters at the moment is the size of the dowry. We are skimming just an inch above ruin?”

Will should be concentrating on courting the lovely (and wealthy) Lady Jane Perceval at court. But a chance meeting with Ellie sets all their fates on a journey of great passion and great loss. Torn between obligation and love, duty and family, Will and Ellie have to decide where their hearts lie when so much is in the balance.

Eve Edwards’ writing is a sumptuous delight, a literary banquet! Edwards is an Oxford University graduate and well-versed in research – and her attention to detail serves well in this book. She remains true to the period, utterly transporting readers to Elizabethan England. Edwards even borrows major historical figures for guest-appearances – including Queen Elizabeth I herself, and court ‘favourite’ Sir Walter Ralegh. Edwards also writes major historical conflicts and events, such as the persecution of Catholics in Protestant England, and the impending war with Spain.
Even if readers aren’t historical buffs, there’s plenty to admire in this sweeping saga. All of the historical references set the book on a grand-scale, but Edwards has written these complicated historical notations with such verve and flourish that they live on the page, and act as wonderful backdrops to heighten suspense.

Edward’s ability to marry history with suspenseful romance is impressive; she breathes life into the ages and gives readers long-ago characters to fascinate and charm.
I was a little sceptical going into this book. The series title - ‘Tudor Historical Romance’ – seems like a bit of an oxymoron when coupled with the intended YA audience. I love reading historical romances, but my tastes have always leaned toward adult writers like Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn, who write the regency as well as the smut. I wasn’t so sure how a historical romance would fare when intended for a younger audience, assuming that it would be a tepid PG13 romance... which just leaves the ‘historical’ and there’s always a chance that things can divulge into high school history textbook. NOT the case in Eve Edward’s ‘The Other Countess’. Not at all!

The romance is really quite heated. In fact, the entire book leans more toward the racy and raunchy side of things. Nothing explicit or that crosses any YA boundaries – but I was (pleasantly) surprised by the book’s sexual undertones. There’s talk of knight’s gleaming torsos, oversized codpieces and lord’s diddling their maids!
But I think the light sexual content is just Edwards being a true scholar. This book is set during the reign of Elizabeth I, and it’s a misconception to think that in the golden age people were strictly chaste and pure. The novel is set in a time when the reigning monarch was nicknamed for her (lack of) sexual orientation!

For all that this is an epic historical drama; the romance is the real draw-card in ‘The Other Countess’. Ellie and Will are wonderful characters – Ellie as an academic girl in a time when a woman’s virtues were in her dowry. Will who has been set the hard task of providing for his family by sacrificing his happiness. Separately these two have enough drama to fill the pages, but when paired together they absolutely sizzle! Theirs is a forbidden romance, and so many obstacles are set before them that their love seems impossible... but that just kept things interesting and suspenseful! I loved their interactions, especially because they both challenged each other’s convictions;

“What need I of the priest when I have an angel to bless me?”
Ellie groaned inwardly at his flowery language. “I think perhaps you have more need of spectacles if you mistake me for one, my lord.”

I love, love, LOVED this book! Eve Edwards has written a YA historical romance that confounds convention and breathes life into Elizabethan history.

5/5
I look forward to Edward’s second book in the ‘Tudor Historical Romance’ series, set for early 2011 release called ‘The Queen’s Lady’, which tells the story of Lady Jane Perceval.

3 comments:

  1. great review luv! not really sth i'd pick up, but i might give it a try someday =))))

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  2. I've been wondering if this one would be any good. Thanks for the review.

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  3. What a great review! I loved how the atricle included quotes.... I finished this book yesterday and I loved it soooooooooooooooooo much.... Eve Edwards is a wonderful writer and I cannot wait for the next book, The Queens Lady, and the third book in the series! A must read for 2010!

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