The Countess and The Heiress by Lynsay Sands

Monday, March 7, 2011
Rashsomon you ain't! Nor Raymond's Tuna Juice episode!

I have always enjoyed reading Lynsay Sands. She is an author who I know what I'm getting when I pick up one of her books... usually something silly, be it vampire or human. The Countess, book one in the Madison Sisters series, is no exception. This story is combination slapstick and dark comedy with a little romance thrown in for good measure. The beginning of the story is a combination of Weekend at Bernie's and The Trouble with Harry, so if you like "hide the dead guy" stories, you'll like this one.

So, we have the dead guy, George, who is/was pretending to be his twin brother Richard and is married to Christiana, who has two other sisters. Of course Richard (the live one, not the dead one, who was George not Richard) has a friend, Daniel, who is attracted to Suzette, the other sister... their story is next. And then there are Robert and Lisa, and Grace, the disapproving maid. These seven people plus Dead George are together almost constantly, running back and forth, hither and yon, to Gretna Green, turn around, to London, turn around to a traveling inn, turn around. Is it any wonder this story is light on romance that grows? This is definitely a story without an angsty hero, no deep stuff here... not none, not nohow!

Of course, there were some things that irritated me. George for one. By the time they (the seven) got rid of him, I was glad to see him go. I did not find the hiding of the stiff to be funny, especially when there comes the moment of uncontrollable passionate whoo-whoo and Christina is being prodded in the back by the stiff (not the good one). They did not complete the whoo-whoo act, because of the stiff (not the good one), thank you very much! I kept thinking wouldn't Dead George be smelling by now? So, instead of a funny moment, I had a yuck moment.

And, while we are on the subject of whoo-whoo, let's talk about the amazing virgin/acrobatic/floozy heroine. You know what I'm talking about - she has sex once and turns into this woman who loves to give-give-give, orally speaking, to say nothing of the acrobatics... let's see, he's behind her, she covers the hand he has on her breast with her one hand, reaches back with her other hand and grabs his hair, then with her third arm, no it must be the first arm, she reaches behind her back to touch him, while she's bending her head back for a kiss... Eventually, because of all the pain these contortions create, they turn to face each other. Sort of. She's sitting on the bed, eye level with you know what on you know who, which leads to a little lip service. "Was that wrong?" she asks. Just once I'd love for the hero to say, "Yes! You didn't do it right." Of course, he doesn't say that and of course it leads to him not being able to stop himself from plunging in. He does, however, have to stop to put her one leg on his chest. So, she's doing splits of a sort, quite the little acrobat. I got a few chortles from this scene and I'm not sure I was supposed to.

Overall, this was a fast-paced silly book that romped over the countryside with hardly a guilt-ridden angsty person in sight and at times didn't make sense as to why they were doing what they were doing. The closest anyone came to being angst ridden is Christina, who was mentally abused by Dead George, so she has some trust issues with Dead George's twin brother Richard. If you are a Lynsay Sands fan, you will have a good time with this book.

Time/Place: Regency English countryside
Sensuality rating: Sort of hot

The Heiress

I have a fondness for books in a series wherein the storyline runs simultaneously. The first romance novels I remember reading that were written in this manner were Twin of Fire and Twin of Ice by Jude Deveraux. Some people are of the opinion that concurrent plots show a laziness on the part of the author. I on the other hand believe this takes a deft hand with storytelling, to say nothing of editing. The trick with this type of narrative is to keep the reoccurring scenes short!

Sad to say in The Heiress this didn't happen. It wasn't until page 215 our of 370, Chapter 10, when this book broke away from it's companion The Countess. Until that moment we get to read almost the same dialog. Oh sure, there was an occasional glimpse into Daniel and Suzette's mind, but because of the togetherness of ALLLLL the characters, these first 215 pages are downright boring. I found myself skipping ahead in these passages.

Now because the redundant part of The Heiress was so long, the second part seemed rushed and characters that wanted to be interesting turned into cardboard inhabitants of Romanceland.

The other irritation I found in this book was after slogging through 215 pages of something I'd read before, there was one chapter when the hero and heroine are together! The plot changed! We began to see some character development! But after an intense tumble in the hay, he goes off to get his mother and is shot, and the heroine is kidnapped. The couple is STINKIN' separated for the rest of the book as alllll of the characters ramble alllll over the countryside looking for each other.

Needless to say, this book was a disappointment. The simultaneous storyline didn't work, was too long and didn't allow for (what appeared to be) some lovely characters to develop. And it's because I liked Suzette and Daniel that this book is getting the high rating it's getting.

Time/Place: Regency English countryside
Sensuality rating: Hot


Tracy said...

I've read The Countess and have The Heiress on my shelf waiting to be read.

I liked The Countess as well and like you didn't find the hiding of the stiff funny at all. I just wanted George the ass out of the

I had to laugh about your acrobatic comment as I thought I was the only one who thought the pair were contortionists when I read that scene. lol

I'll have to come back and read your review of The Heiress after I finish it - I want no advanced warning of anything. :)

SidneyKay said...

Tracy:I'm thinking about giving out a contortionist award at the end of the year.

Tracy said...

LOL Perfect!

Melissa said...

I enjoyed The Countess and found it funny and quick to read. I was disturbed at the idea of the couple making out with the dead body on the bed. Ewww! But otherwise a fun romp!

As for The Heiress, you are absolutely right! I can't get through it. I just read this story in The Countess.