The Other Countess (Lacey Chronicles Series #1)

The Other Countess (Lacey Chronicles Series #1)

4.3 21
by Eve Edwards

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"Part romance, part suspense, part friendship  . . . The Other Countess will not disappoint--it really is pure gold!"--Historical Novels Review

England, 1582

Ellie—Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime—possesses a worthless title, but her feisty spirit captivates the elite of the Queen's


"Part romance, part suspense, part friendship  . . . The Other Countess will not disappoint--it really is pure gold!"--Historical Novels Review

England, 1582

Ellie—Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime—possesses a worthless title, but her feisty spirit captivates the elite of the Queen's court—especially the dashing new Earl of Dorset.

William Lacey, Earl of Dorset, has inherited his father's title—and his financial ruin. Now Will must seek a wealthy bride and restore his family's fortune. If only he hadn't fallen for the beautiful but penniless Ellie . . .

Sparks fly whenever Ellie and Will are together, but circumstances—and the conniving interference of others—threaten to keep them apart.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Her full name is Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, but Ellie's title counts for little with her family impoverished by her father's obsession with alchemy and her Spanish heritage more often a liability than not in Queen Elizabeth's court. A good marriage would improve her fortunes, but fate keeps throwing Ellie in the path of William Lacey, whose grievances against her father and his own need to restore his family fortunes through an advantageous match make him and Ellie thoroughly unsuitable for each other. Inevitably, the two trade barbs, misunderstand each other, fall in love, and must contend with their circumstance and the machinations of others. Tournaments, feasts, fancy dress, and Catholic-Protestant tensions provide a veneer of Renaissance pageantry, but it's not enough to elevate the flat characters and rote plot. Libraries with a high demand for historical romance may find this a useful additional purchase; others can pass it by.—Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
Children's Literature - Jody Little
Set in Elizabethan England, this historical tale focuses on the unfolding romance between William Lacey, the Earl of Dorset, and Lady Eleanor, the Countess of San Jaime. Will, his family now close to financial ruin, knows he needs to marry a woman of wealth who can bring a large dowry. He sets his sights on Lady Jane Perceval, even though he feels no love for her. Ellie lives with her father, a scholar and alchemist, who was partly responsible for the Dorset family's loss of wealth. When Will sees Ellie at Lord Mountjoy's home, he does not know who she is. He is immediately attracted to her and longs only to see her again. When Jane Perceval arrives at court, she is charmed by Ellie and becomes her friend. Jane soon senses the attraction between Will and Ellie and questions whether she can enter a marriage with a man who loves someone else. Under pressure from his family, Will proposes to Jane. Not long after, a death occurs that changes the future for all of the characters. Edwards writes a fast-moving romance with historical characters that even includes the lives and activities of the lower-class servants. Keeping true to the Elizabethan times, the battle between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church becomes a large piece of the plot. Eager readers will be happy to learn that the story continues in a second novel. Reviewer: Jody Little

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Lacey Chronicles Series , #1
Sold by:
Random House
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


"There's no money left," the countess announced, leafing hopelessly through the family accounts. "The harvest returns were not good this year, so we have already run through our reserves."

Will stared out of the window, the tiny panes of glass distorting the forked trees. The snow lay thick on the ground. Deer wandered in the park, undisturbed today by any hunt. His quarry for the foreseeable future had to be coin, not meat.

"What are we to do, Mother? Do we have to bring James and Tobias home?"

The countess rubbed the bridge of her nose, a headache gathering. As Tobias was sharing a tutor at another noble family's house, the fees for her youngest son's schooling were due and James was sending in hefty bills from Cambridge.

"And there's Sarah's future to consider too." Will scratched at the frost on a pane with a fingernail, writing his initials. "Thank God, Catherine's well married, but I still owe Huntsford part of the dowry. He said he'd give us time to pay, but it is a stain on our family if I cannot come up with the rest. He's a good friend--and to be frank, it's embarrassing."

Will turned to glance up at the picture of his father hanging over the fireplace in his study. This is your fault, he thought. If you had paid more attention to your estate and your family, we would not now be in the mire.

Everyone expected him to step easily into the role of earl, but more often than not, Will felt like Atlas, carrying the weight of crushing responsibilities. In his case, the duties were summed up in the title Earl of Dorset; this splendid-sounding noble strutted around keeping up appearances while he, the real Will, staggered underneath the burden, trying to keep his footing. He knew he wasn't up to the task, but had to go on acting the part as so many depended on him. He'd begun to hate this Dorset fellow, whoever he was, and dreamt of casting him off like a snake sheds old skin.

Did you feel like that? he asked the portrait. Was that why you hid in your laboratory and let everything slide?

"Well, my dear," the countess said, pushing the ledger aside, "there is only one avenue still open to us. You must go to court and repair our fortunes. You must either win the Queen's favor or marry an extremely rich young lady."

Amused, Will quirked an eyebrow. "Simple as that?"

"Oh my, that does sound rather mercenary, doesn't it?" admitted the countess. "I meant that you should do your duty by our beloved sovereign and aspire to win the heart of some worthy--"

"I know what you meant, Mother." Will leant against the casement, crossing his arms and ankles, trying to ignore the fact that his hose were darned at the knee. "But I doubt I can afford to make an appearance that would not have our family dismissed in disgrace." He gestured to his outmoded velvet doublet, inherited from his father's wardrobe. "Not exactly the glass of fashion, am I?"

His mother smiled proudly. "My dear, what you lack in clothes you more than make up for in personal attraction, even if I do say so myself."

"And mothers are known for their impartiality?"

"Of course." She rose and went to the iron-bound coffer that stood against one wall. Taking a key from the chain at her waist, she opened the lid and took out a satin pouch.

Will, already guessing what she intended, held his hand out to stop her. "No, Mother, you can't."

"I can. My ruby set; part of my dowry. This should raise at least a thousand pounds--enough to equip England's most handsome lord with enough clothes and staff for his season at court."

A bleak sadness settled like a cloak on his shoulders. "If you sell that, then we really will have nothing left. I thought you wanted Sarah to have it when she gets married."

"I did, but the rubies will be scant comfort to us when we contemplate their beauty and starve this winter with the house falling about our ears."

Will approached her and took the jewels. Leaning down, he kissed her brow.

"I don't deserve you."

She poked his ribs playfully. "No, you don't, you scoundrel. Now go sell those and woo us a pleasant, wealthy girl, someone whom I won't want to strangle within a week of sharing the house with her."

"I'll do my best, Mother," Will vowed. "I'll get us out of this, I promise."

A particularly graphic curse shattered Ellie's concentration. Muttering a mild rejoinder as the word she'd been hunting for floated out of reach, Ellie looked out the window of her chamber, tucked away in an obscure corner of Windsor Castle. Below, the carpenters were preparing the lists for the Queen's jousting competition, the highlight of the St. George's holiday after the ceremony bestowing the Order of the Garter on the sovereign's most trusted men. Sawing, hammering and swearing filled the air, distracting Ellie from the manuscript she was translating for her father. She chewed on the end of her quill as she watched one broad-shouldered laborer strip off his shirt, revealing a torso to rival that of a Greek god.

"Don't wander, Ellie," she chided herself, while sneaking a second look.

The work had been going on like this for the past few days. The Queen and her retinue would be arriving within the week; hundreds of extra people to cram into the castle. The young bucks would be expected to display themselves to advantage on the field of chivalry; the girls to dazzle their suitors with their superior beauty and fine apparel. Youth was in fashion in the court of the aging monarch. Elizabeth's old favorite, the Earl of Leicester, had taken the unforgivable step of marrying; the situation vacant, all the young men were buzzing to court like bees to the honeypot.

Ellie yawned and rubbed her nose, not realizing she was leaving an inky streak across her cheek. It was all so tedious because she was on the outside of the excitement. To enter into the select group of gilded youth you had to have money, or the appearance of it, and influence. A scholar's daughter with a suspect Spanish inheritance was stuck somewhere between the kitchen and the great hall, belonging to neither.

Tearing off a crust from her manchet, Ellie tapped the crumbs so none fell on the page she was painstakingly inscribing. She took pride in her penmanship--very few women could read fluently, let alone write. The Queen could, of course, and Ellie admired her for it, mirroring herself on the monarch's accomplishment of translating one text into three languages while still in the schoolroom. Her own mother, the Lady Marta Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, had been a noted poet at the Spanish court--that was what had first brought her to Sir Arthur Hutton's attention and led to their marriage. Her father hoped that the fame of his erudite daughter would sweeten the Queen towards his own pursuits. He had urged to complete her translation of a work by his favorite alchemist, Paracelsus, before the court arrived so he could make a gift of it to Elizabeth. Ellie found the task of translating the old Swiss windbag monumentally boring, and she still had five pages to go. Worse still, she suspected that the Queen would be far less impressed than her father anticipated. Favor was given out for calculated political reasons, not from an overflow of heart.

"Plague upon Paracelsus," she grumbled, picking up her pen again. "May his quill shrivel." Pleased with the mildly obscene curse, she returned to her labors.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

EVE EDWARDS has a doctorate from Oxford University and thinks researching is a large part of the fun in writing historical fiction. She has visited Tudor houses, attended jousts, and eaten Elizabethan banquets to get the sights, sounds, and tastes right for this book. The Other Countess is her first young adult novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Other Countess 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Cortipillar More than 1 year ago
A cross between Camelot times, "The Swan Princess" and "Cinderella" This novel is truly a joy. +Lovely characters and very imaginative. +Easy read +Well thought out romance +It ends well! -I felt that One character in particular, Nell(Jane's maid), had no point in being in the story. Honestly, I just skipped right over most of her parts. I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a nice light read.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
It is 1582 in London, England, and Queen Elizabeth's court is the one in power! Will Lacey stands beside his mother at fourteen years of age and suddenly has the world thrust upon his shoulders. His father has passed away and he is now the Earl of Dorset. Not only has Will received the title, but he's also received the responsibility of his sister Sarah, his two brothers, and his mother. He is standing in a dilapidated manor trying to figure out how he's going to support this family, seeing that his father has left them in financial ruin. Standing beside his mother, he stares down an alchemist by the name of Sir Arthur - who Will blames for their economic state. The alchemist is a nice man, a scholar, but one who is completely obsessed with finding a way to turn metal into gold. Sir Arthur had Will's father obsessed as well - and that's where all the family's money went. Will kicks Sir Arthur to the curb and tells him never to return. And, while kicking, he sends Sir Arthur's young daughter Ellie out the door with him Ellie is a lovely girl - an Amazon of learning who has so many 'smarts' she outranks her father. Unfortunately, Ellie has a worthless title from her mother's family in Spain, a "crazy" father, and not a dime to speak of. When the Laceys turn them away they spend many a month in a barn with no food begging people to help them, until they wind up part of Sir Mountjoy's circle - yet another man who is inebriated with the thought of alchemy. Ellie is staying in an obscure corner of Windsor Castle supported by the Mountjoy household, and trying desperately to make sure that she and her father are not, once again, kicked to the curb. If they end up in the Queen's disgrace, they will have no hope. The castle is all 'a-twitter' setting up for St. George's holiday where the joust will commence and the 'Order of the Garter' will be given to the winner. But Ellie doesn't only have to worry about the lack of money and her father's "loose-cannon head," she also has to worry because there is a new jouster at Court this year - a young man who is trying his best to look like he has money, so that he can win the joust, the Queen's favor, and "land" a wealthy wife with a dowry that will save he and his family. The jouster is Will - now 18 - the Earl who despises Ellie's father but, who after one moment in a garden with Ellie, seems to be falling for this poor 'Lady from Spain' instead of concentrating on bringing home a woman with money. Little does Will know that the lady who has stolen his heart is actually his enemy from long ago. It is SO refreshing to receive a YA to read that is a truly stunning story. From the history to the chills and thrills of spying and treason in Queen Elizabeth's court - to the absolute strength and determination of two young people who are responsible for all the adults around them, while trying to still hold on to a love that they both desperately want - every single plotline is outstanding. Eve Edwards has done a fantastic job of offering a true love story that will captivate adults young and old, and has begun a series that will be a remarkable one to own and read again and again. Quill says: An enchanting novel. Will and Eve will most definitely take the place of Bella and Edward in a great many hearts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't but it down
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the storyline in this book. It wasn’t that heavy on the history although the setting was well done. It was the characters that did the trick with this book and the romance. Now I’m not a romance type of reader but the romance aspect of the story was nice and sweet and went well hand in hand with the story as well. There’s lots of chemistry between the main couple really helped this book come along. Besides Ellie and Will, the other characters were very memorable (Jane and James, Diego are great examples). Usually with this type of historical fiction you have a nice blend of political intrigue, this story, doesn’t have that - but it’s good, because it’s not needed. However Edwards adds in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants to give it a more historical feel to it but not so overwhelming on the history lesson - which is great since this book caters to Young Adults. Wonderful read, and with a beautiful ending. I know there’s two more books after this so I’ll be sure to pick them up. This was a great read with characters that are well done and memorable. It’s a sweet romance without it being cheesy and silly. It’s worth reading even for those who aren’t into romances like I am.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was not as ment for young readers as i thought..... the level of sexual coments was high
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read this book a billion times and it never get old. If you like books about historical times, then read this. Amazing plot! It wont let you down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a hopeless romantic i fell in love with the Lacey brothers. First off the characters capture your attention and leave you reading more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well for starters, this book was set in the late 1500's, and I am a huge fan of Queen Elizabeth 1 because she was just plain awesome! So, anyhoo,this book was good for me since I am a romantic at heart, also I liked the way it was written-easy to understand, and not all rambly about the way the guy looked, or something like that. I just wish that they would have told about their wedding night more, and told whether the old lady got released or not. Other than that, it was a good book.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I've been eying this series forever. At first it seemed to be published only in the UK and I was debating an order from Book Depository. But, then I found out that it would eventually be a US release as well. I was happy to say the least. This type of historical fiction in one of my weaknesses. I liked both main characters immensely. I thought the lifestyle that Ellie lives was interesting. She's got the title, but nothing to back it up. In the eyes of those powerful at court, she not much better than a peasant. Especially when you factor that her father is seen as some what of a "leach". I was really intrigued by the fact that he studied alchemy. It's a subject that I'm not readily familiar with. It was interesting to read how he was viewed by others in society. I loved that Ellie sometimes despised what her father did and the position it often put her in. I also loved that in spite of all that, she would do anything for him. I loved William! I love it when a character does exactly what I think he should. He may be an ass at times to Ellie, but I know he's thinking of what's happened to him in the past. I also love that he realizes his mistakes and is man enough to admit them AND apologize to her for it. And as much as I hate it, it fits with this time period that he denies his feeling and goes with what is expected of him. He knows his family and his lands are at stake. I loved the secondary characters in this as well. Lady Jane turned out to be far more of an asset to the story than I thought. And her brother was down right wicked. I was saddened by turn of events at the end, but thought the story ended just the way it should. It makes me excited that I already have a review copy of book two in this series on my kindle!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am personally a fan of books set in the 1800's. This I have to say isone of the best I have read. I can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
scarletmoon7 More than 1 year ago
It was truly a gread read. I would recommend it to those who love the 1800's setting and romantic books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is beyond incredible. It is well written and full of historic knowledge along with romance and wit. I am so excited for the second novel to come out!
Taylor Rogers More than 1 year ago
Can someone who has read this book please write a review so i know if i should buy it pleeease!
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