The Other Countess by Eve Edwards (Published by Penguin Books UK, July 1, 2010)
Sixteen-year-old Ellie Hutton (also known as the Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, a worthless Spanish title she inherited from her mother) is the daughter of an alchemist obsessed with his craft. He has wasted all the family’s money over the years and Ellie often resents the life she lives as a result of his decisions. Eighteen-year-old Will Lacey, the Earl of Dorset, must solve his family’s financial problems after his late father wasted the family fortune. He hopes that if he can marry a rich heiress with a large dowry, his family‘s problems will be solved. Will and Ellie last met four years ago, when he threw Ellie and her father (who had been sponsored by Will’s father) off his lands after his father died. Will blames Ellie’s father for his family’s poverty, as much of the money his father wasted was spent on alchemical research.
It is at the court of Elizabeth I in 1582 that Ellie and Will meet again. Ellie’s father has found another nobleman to sponsor him, and Will is searching at court for a wealthy young woman to marry. Ellie and Will are instantly attracted to each other - and horrified by that fact, as a result of their past history. Their attraction eventually develops into love, but Will is forced by his duty to his family to court the Lady Jane, a wealthy young woman with a large dowry.
The Other Countess is one of my favorite books so far this year. Ellie and Will and all the other characters were very well developed and I liked all of them. I wanted to hate Lady Jane at first, for being an obstacle to Will and Ellie’s love, but she was actually a really sympathetic character and I am looking forward to reading her story in the sequel, The Queen’s Lady, which will be published in February 2011. The historical setting was really well researched and highly detailed. I highly recommend this book to readers who love historical romance or stories set in Tudor England.