Laughing on the outside, crying... Nah... Crying on the outside, laughing... No, no, that's not it. It's crying on the outside and crying on the inside! Cry! Cry! Cry!
Oh, Courtney Milan, you make it hard to review books. For all you ladies out there - if
sometime in your lifetime your thoughts and ideas were dismissed because you were female, then this book is for you. However, if you delve deeper into the story, it isn't just women who are dismissed but men also. As always with Ms. Milan, this is not a simple romance book. Ms. Milan spellbinds me with the use of her words and thus she has once again created a very complex story, which is why I had a hard time writing this review. When I finished this very angst-filled story, I was overwhelmed and I wasn't sure I had read a love story. So, I had to sit back for a few days and ponder on what I felt about The Countess Conspiracy - and in the end I have come to believe that this is a strong love story, but it's a love story about more than just romance. This story also comes with a warning - this is a heavy-duty book, so you are not going to be breaking out in laughter at unexpected moments.
The Countess Conspiracy is a dynamic tale of how humans perceive one another and how they disregard each other based on those perceptions, regardless of whether they are male or female. This is a very absorbing story.
We have Violet, our heroine, a scientist, a researcher who has hidden her thoughts and discoveries from everyone; however, she has been able to voice her opinions by using her longtime friend Sebastian as her "front." Sebastian, our hero, has loved Violet forever and as the story begins he has just told Violet that he can no longer stand in front of people and pretend the words coming out of his mouth are his. Not far into this book, Sebastian confesses his long-standing love for Violet to her. From there we journey down a long, bumpy, angsty road to our happy ending.
This is a many-faceted story - there are so many emotions evoked and so many characters doing the evoking. The relationships between all the characters are explored in depth and sometimes the agony exposed in these pages is mind-numbing. The relationship between Sebastian and his brother Benedict was just downright painful to read. As I said before, this is a heavy-duty book. There is no outside conflict; all the tension is within the many characters. Another character in the book who is the cause of tension is Lily, Violet's sister. Lily is one of those people who smile, who light up the room, who get what they want. They are always very, very sweet. How could someone not like them? However, those smiles hide a very self-centered, hurtful person. When she is finally confronted in this story, I disliked her so much, I wanted the confrontation to go on longer than it did.
These are not the only two secondary characters who drive this book. There is also Violet's mother. One of the few funny scenes is when Violet and her mother discover they are talking about two different scandals. When this happens you find out there is more to the mother than what you thought. Robert and Oliver from the two previous books in the series also show up. Even with these two, who were heroes in their own stories, their awakening to how they have treated Sebastian over the years is fascinating.
I could go on and on, but I won't. The Countess Conspiracy is a very complicated love story with a thorny heroine and a hero who isn't what he appears. Both of these people have been dismissed by those they love and those who love them. This is a thought-provoking story and I do recommend that you take your time and read - no skipping - read, then savor the words.
Time/Place: Victorian England