Review: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Thursday, February 27, 2014
Title: The Countess Conspiracy
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre: romance, historical fiction
Series: Brothers Sinister #3
Pages: 295
Publication: December 17, 2013
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 5/5

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.

Reviewed by 

Courtney Milan has outdone herself.

I can always count on the Brothers Sinister to give me swoon worthy romances with delicious heroes and strong, unique heroines. I like Minnie and Jane. I loved Serena. Violet has blown them all out of the water.

She’s not very nice. She’s rather selfish about her arrangement with Sebastian. But she’s logical and smart and a scientist. Not a bluestocking who’s juuuuust on the wrong side of respectability. An honest to God, inspired by Rosalind Franklin, reviled for her work scientist. Now, more than any of her other books, this one plays loosey goosey with actual historical details to make Violet’s contributions bigger and more impactful, but that only makes her more awesome.

Both Violet and Sebastian are really expertly layered. They’ve both gone through a lot of emotional turmoil and it brings them together. Both are dismissed and feel rejected by their families for different reasons, but I think the theme of searching for affection and respect is one a lot of people relate to, and it softened both of their characters into something wonderfully human. Yet, their problems are never waved away. Some family members reconcile fully, some only tentatively, and some...don’t! Just like real life, you can’t instantly bridge every gap with a kind word and a revelation.

Yet, for all that emotional turmoil, there’s really no big mis. Sebastian admits early on that he’s been in love with Violet for years, and while she lets her insecurities get in the way of fully believing that, it never falls into romance cliche. There’s a disagreement on how to handle a climactic reveal, but while both characters worry about what the other will think, it’s short lived. This is a couple that talks to each other.

Now, do you read romance novels for the sex? It’s nothing to be ashamed of; I often do. I look to Ms. Milan for hot, enthusiastically consensual scenes, in fact. But while I loved everything else about it, this book didn’t turn my crank. I found Sebastian’s first, (and second,) declaration of love unbelievably romantic, but the sex? Eh. I will say, hooray for condoms! More romance novels should include them!

There’s so much good here. Violet’s mom’s revelation, (I LOVED IT,) sciencesisses, romance based on respect, fertility issues that don’t just poof with a magic dick. I can’t say enough good about Courtney Milan, the Brothers Sinister, and The Countess Conspiracy. If you like historical romances, or have ever thought about trying one, I don’t know how you could be disappointed.

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