Published by Lyrical Press on August 7, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Finding a worthy husband should be simple for three beautiful debutantes in Regency London. But the Somerset sisters have a way of making it delightfully complicated...
Violet Somerset has always preferred a library to a ballroom, but to please her grandmother she agreed to one London season. With nothing to show for it but heartbreak, she's reconciled to spinsterhood. Until a notorious rogue known as the Devil of Dare requests an introduction to her timid, gentle youngest sister, Hyacinth. Violet will do anything to stop the match—even if it means posing as Hyacinth herself.
Nicholas Balfour, the Earl of Dare, is enjoying the life of a rake far too much to take a wife. But he must keep his promise to his grandmother. He'll simply choose the meekest bride he can find, install her at his estate, then carry on as before. Hyacinth sounds perfect—until he discovers that her sweet demeanor hides the tongue of a viper and the mind of a bluestocking.
As Violet's ruse threatens to unravel, however, she may find the tables turned. Soon she may have no choice but to tolerate her handsome fiancée—or fall in love with him.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
More or Less a Countess is the second book in The Somerset Sisters series by Anna Bradley. It can be read as a standalone but if you are anything like me you will want to read each of the sisters’ stories.
Violet Somerset is a bluestocking. She would rather spend time sketching unusual subjects for the book she is writing rather than socialising or pursuing feminine pursuits such as embroidery. In looks, she is very similar to her younger sister Hyacinth, but that’s where the similarities end. Hyacinth is a sweet, quiet young lady who excels at playing the pianoforte.
Nicholas Balfour is the Earl of Dare, and he has been enjoying his life as a rake, living it up in Italy and keeping a very attractive mistress. His aunt demands he comes back to England to sort out his estate and to find a wife. She has somebody in mind for the role but Nicholas is adamant that he choose his own wife. He will pick a woman who will be happy to beget his heir and be left to her own devices while he goes back to Italy to enjoy his life.
At a ball he sees Hyacinth Somerset playing the pianoforte. She is pleasant to look at and her talent is breathtaking. She seems demure and he thinks she will make the perfect undemanding type of wife he is looking for. All he needs is to find somebody to introduce them so that he can begin his courtship. Before an introduction can be arranged after the ball comes to an end he sees her on her own collecting her wrap. He can’t let the opportunity past and introduces himself to her. He asks if he can call on her and to his shock she actually says no! What he doesn’t realise is that he has confused the sisters and the woman he is actually talking to is Violet. She knows his reputation and knows he is nowhere good enough for her sweet sister, which is why she tells him not to call on her.
Nicholas, never one to be told what to do and determined that Hyacinth would be the perfect wife, ignores her and calls for her the next day. Circumstances work out so that Violet is still able to pretend to be her sister. She realises too that it could work to her advantage to spend some time with him, getting him to take her places for her research and sketching at the same time as making sure that he keeps away from her sister. Problems arise when she finds herself attracted to him, and to his surprise Nicholas finds himself feeling more for her than he thought he would. Maybe it isn’t love to begin with but they definitely feel a lot of lust for each other. It’s the worst thing that could happen, isn’t it?
I really enjoyed this story, not least because of the unusual places that Violet asked Nicholas to take her, and the times he had to play hero to keep her safe. There were lots of interesting facts about London and it’s more gruesome areas all interspersed with the growing romance of our main characters. I had no idea how they could have a happy ever after when they both had secrets to hide but I was thrilled with how the author had it work out for them. It was believable and it was wonderful and I was left with a big smile on my face when the book ended. There was only one place in the book where there was a bit of an inconsistency with a scene, but other than that the book was perfect and I am definitely going to read the others in the series.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.