Friday, June 13, 2014

The Countess Conspiracy

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Sebastian Malheur is infamous for his lectures on Darwin's theory of evolution where he shares his experiences with plant genetics and breeding. He is both admired and hated, but it is not the rejection that frustrates him, but rather that the ideas and results he is presenting are not his own. Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, has been fascinated by plants and genetics since she worked alongside her father and she is enjoying her freedom away from her controlling mother and her husband. As a woman she knows her ideas would never be accepted, so she and Sebastian decide that he will be the public face of her ideas. The two work tirelessly to help Sebastian learn Violet's new theories enough to present them to others and for a while this works well for both of them. Unfortunately, Sebastian soon grows tired of taking credit for others ideas, and by his own brother regarding him as a public nuissance. When his brother discovers he is sick, and about to leave his son and orphan, Sebastian is horrified that his brother considers him him an unsuitable guardian for the child and is planning on leaving him to an aunt. Sebastian has always been fun loving, and everyone sees him as perpetually happy and easy going, and he feels like it is time for him to reveal a new side.

Violet is heartbroken when Sebastian reveals that he no longer wants to be a part of Violet's scheme, and their friendship is on the verge of unravelling. The situation is made worse when Sebastian shares his deep seated feelings for Violet, and it brings forth memories of Violet's own very unhappy marriage where her husband forced her to conceive multiple times even after they all ended in miscarriages and the doctor even said that she could not survive any more pregnancies.  But Violet is determined to share her ideas with the world, even if it means opening up her heart, and Sebastian is overjoyed to finally have a chance with the woman he loves. He does try to branch out, tries to prove himself to his brother, but Violet is the only one who truly understands him and soon Violet comes up with an idea that will allow Sebastian to keep his honor, and allow her to share her discoveries. Violet will have to overcome her fears and her rigid and meticulous upbringing, while Sebastian will have to accept that he can be both the worthy gentleman and the fun loving rake before they can have their happily ever after.

I was conflicted in my feelings about both Violet and Sebastian because at times they were so likable and admirable, but at others they did things that were just ridiculous and impossible to excuse. Violet's fears about intimacy, her adharance to her strict upbringing, and her dedication to her work all made me like her. However, the extent to which she rejected Sebastian, even after all they had been through and it was clear he would never hurt her, negated the intelligence she had in so many other areas. In addition Violet proved herself to be too much of a pushover where her manipulative sister was involved and I could not respect that. Sebastian has loved Violet for years, and I liked how happy he was and how he wanted to make something of himself. His determination to impress his brother was heartbreaking but also frustrating as it was so clear the man would never change his mind. Both of their faults were incredibly human, stemming from a desire to never be hurt or to be loved, and they made both of them well rounded characters. I believe it was just the extent that these things were dragged out that made me grow tired of them.

Their relationship was conducted off page far too much for my liking as they had both really fallen in love with each other by the time the book began and I am never a fan of that. They certainly spent a lot of time together, much of just the two of them and it was clear why they had fallen in love. I guess I am just a sucker for a romantic, or really any kind of, meeting between the two protagonists. Because of her fears there was almost no sex in this book at all and the few romantic meetings between them felt flat me and really did nothing for me. I felt like there could have been a lot more because of their history together, but it was clear these two did not have a huge uncontrollable passion for each other which was a little disappointing. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of this novel was Violet's relationship with her controlling and very very proper mother, especially when a very shocking secret is revealed.

Rating: A slow moving, not very exciting book, with two very human and relatable characters slowly coming to the realization that they are meant for each other.

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