More or Less A Countess by Anna Bradley

More or Less a Countess (The Somerset Sisters, #2)More or Less a Countess by Anna Bradley

Barbara’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Somerset Sisters #2
Publication Date: 8/7/18

This lovely romance is the story of a man with the lowest self-esteem I’ve read in a long time and a bluestocking who pursues knowledge for a book she is writing at almost any cost. It is well written, well-paced, and it is populated with well developed, very relatable characters. While it is part of a series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. You’ll also appreciate many delightfully funny moments like a hilarious inappropriate discussion of ‘barrier devices’ (condoms) or – like –

But damn it, how was a gentleman meant to embark on a courtship when the object of his pursuit was half-drowned in mud and so preoccupied with the skeletal remains of plague victims she hadn’t even noticed how utterly delightful he was?

Nicholas Balfour, the Earl of Dare never expected to inherit the Earldom. That was to fall to his perfectly perfect brother Graham. No matter how hard Nick tried, he could never, ever be as good as Graham in anyone’s eyes – especially his father – and even his own. Nick had spent the last two years hiding from himself and presenting the picture of a debauched rake to everyone. Nick had tried to fill Graham’s shoes for a while, but nothing he did was ever good enough in his father’s eyes – so he left for the continent with no intention of ever returning to England. However, his aunt had different ideas – and she held the purse strings – because Nick’s father let the estate run into the ground and any monetary inheritance would come from her. So, if Nick wanted any income at all, he had to return to England, marry and produce an heir.

When Nick was first back in England he attended a social event at Lord Derrick’s home. There he notices a very shy young lady who plays the pianoforte like a virtuoso. Hmmmmm, Nick thinks he’s found the perfect bride – Hyacinth Somerset. He can marry her, get a child on her and leave for the continent once that duty is done. No fuss, no muss!

Violet Somerset endured one endless, tormenting season where she was ridiculed, mistreated and gossiped about because she was a bluestocking. There was no way Violet was ever going to endure another season and therefore, she would never marry. She was also heartbroken because the one man who had treated her well and who she had loved, had recently married her best friend. So, Violet’s one ambition was to finish the book she was writing and illustrating. All she needed were a few more sketches from places where ladies were not free to go.

Violet, Hyacinth and their grandmother attend a dinner at Lord Derrick’s home. Violet is a bit upset because Lord Derrick is the man she has loved and who is now married to her best friend. Then, a latecomer appears and is seated directly across from Violet’s sister Hyacinth. He is the notorious rake, Lord Dare. Then, later Lord Dare approaches Violet and asks if he can call on her – she knows he has mistaken her for Hyacinth. Well – there is absolutely no way she’s going to let this rake anywhere near her sweet, shy and lovely sister. So, she lets him continue to think she is Hyacinth and tells him he is not welcome to call on her. That, of course, doesn’t stop Lord Dare.

Nick becomes more and more intrigued with ‘Hyacinth’ and Violet continues to let him believe she is Hyacinth while she allows him to escort her to places she wouldn’t normally be able to go. She also begins to care for Nick and knows that she has to tell him who she really is – but she’s afraid she’ll lose him and he’ll pursue the real Hyacinth. She knows he’ll find out sooner or later and when he does . . .

Poor Nick is so troubled and if it was possible to grab his father from the grave and murder him – I would. He always made Nick feel as if he were second best and was unworthy of love – especially his father’s. I hate all Nick had to go through to get his HEA, but he is a lovely, lovely hero and I really liked him.

For me, this was a 5-star read for most of the book. I did deduct a half of a star because the ‘big misunderstanding’ scene seemed contrived to me. For an overnight stop, there is no way a footman would mistakenly unload ALL of the trunks from the carriage. I mean – goodness – he’d just be creating work for himself and then he’d have to re-load them all the next morning. Then – the maid employed by the coaching inn wouldn’t be unpacking ALL of those trunks for an overnight stay. Actually, she wouldn’t be unpacking them at all – Violet’s lady’s maid would unpack only what she needed. So – half a star deduction.

I highly recommend this book – and this series.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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