(Brothers Sinister, #3)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian, 1867)
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.
I’m fast running out of superlatives to describe Courtney Milan’s books. Every time I pick up one of her books, I’m swept away by her innovative stories, her fascinating characters, her brilliant writing and her ability to layer her stories with historical detail and thought-provoking social commentary. THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY has all this plus a poignant and deeply emotional love story.
This book is so intricately layered with complex relationships and flawed characters that I’ve found it difficult to write a review which would do it justice. I just hope this review conveys just how brilliant this book is.
I found Violet such a fascinating character. She has a brilliant scientific mind, but her father’s heartless rejection, and a marriage that left her both emotionally and physically broken have destroyed all sense of self-worth; she truly believes that she is selfish and unlovable. Violet has always been happy to follow her mother’s rigid rules. It means she can hide behind a veneer of proper behaviour while indulging in her forbidden passion – her research into genetics. Her greatest fear is that she will be exposed for what she truly is… “a selfish, pointless, lying coward”.
There were many times when my heart ached for Violet, none more so than when she believes that Sebastian is going to betray their secret by revealing the truth in front of everyone. Her fears of the repercussions are tangible.
The vast crowd seemed nothing but shadows around her. She could scarcely breathe. Filthy, she could hear people whispering. Reprobate. Her gorge rose. Violet would be ruined, and she would take her mother, her sister, her nieces and nephews with her.
I adore Sebastian. He is everything a hero should be…intelligent, charming, kind and funny. With his amiable disposition, he can put people at ease and genuinely wants to make everyone feel happy. Having lived a lie for so many years, he hates the person he is becoming and he is also desperate to prove to everyone, especially his dying brother that his more than just a “court jester”. This will mean hurting the women he loves and I could feel how much he hates himself for doing it.
Of all the people in the world, Violet was the closest to him, and that made her precious in ways he didn’t want to consider right now. She was his dearest friend, and he was about to rip her apart.
The relationship between Sebastian and Violet is so intelligently and sensitively written. What stands out is Sebastian’s unconditional love for Violet. He never pushes her beyond what’s she’s comfortable with but is always there for her. He sees Violet as no one else does.
He’d seen Violet focused on a subject before. When she was, she was vibrant and full of color.
When they finally make love, he understands her fears and puts her needs before his own.
There is a scene where Sebastian is describing the various types of rakes, as though they are types of plants, which is really funny. I also love the scene where Sebastian uses a unique way of telling Violet how he feels about her during a scientific presentation. Everyone is oblivious of the true meaning of his words except Violet.
…that was when Violet understood. He wasn’t talking about flowers, even if everyone else in the room thought he was. He was talking about her.
Watching Violet slowly regaining her true worth and claiming her work as her own, regardless of the consequences, is one of the highlights for me.
MY VERDICT: A beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story. Highly recommended.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read February 2016
The Brothers Sinister series to date (click on cover for more details):