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 . . .
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London, November, 1817
Before she even crossed the threshold this evening, Violet Somerset knew there would be pain. She'd braced herself for gaping chest wounds, perhaps a severed limb or two, and a few pitiful but silent screams of agony. A graceful swoon would follow, and then the convulsive death throes of a love that had been hopeless from the start.
She hadn't expected any of it would be pleasant, but she'd hoped it would be quick.
It wasn't quick. It was death by a thousand cuts.
Dreadful way to die. Unseemly. Bloody.
Violet knew all about the blood. She'd seen a gruesome picture of death by a thousand cuts in an extraordinary book she'd found hidden in her grandmother's library. It was called ThePunishments of China1, and it was fascinating reading. A bit grisly, of course, and not at all proper for the eyes of an innocent young lady, but then nothing of any interest was. For her own part, Violet couldn't help but be intrigued by such an astonishingly creative approach to the thorny problem of crime and punishment.
Still, death by a thousand cuts wasn't at all the kind of thing one wanted to see at a dinner party.
Yet here she was, trapped between the fifth and final courses, and instead of a lovely pudding, Violet was facing a ghastly execution.
"I'd hoped for a happy marriage, of course. Doesn't every young lady? But it's so much lovelier than I ever dreamed it would be. I never imagined my husband could be my friend, but that's just what Lord Derrick is to me. My best friend."
Lady Honora looked splendid tonight, with her pink cheeks and her sweet brown eyes alight with happiness. A few weeks ago she'd become the Countess of Derrick, and if one could judge by her transcendent glow, her marriage suited her.
Violet met her dear friend's luminous smile with what was no doubt a sickly grimace. "How wonderful, Honora. I couldn't be happier for you and Lord Derrick."
Honora beamed at her and squeezed her limp fingers, but Violet could only manage a feeble twitch of her hand in return, rather like a bird with a broken wing trying to take flight.
"I don't mean to say he's just my friend, of course. He's, ah ... well, he's much more than that. It's difficult to put into words, but it's rather like ... like a dream has come to life before my eyes, except it's better than a dream, because it's so much more vivid and colorful than I dared imagine." The fetching pink flush on Honora's cheeks deepened. "I daresay Iris understands. Is that how you feel about Lord Huntington, Iris? As if he's a dream come to life?" Violet's elder sister Iris, who was recently married herself, was seated across the table from Honora. "I — that is, of course Lord Huntington and I are quite ... we do enjoy each other's ..." Iris glanced between Honora and Violet, bit her lip, and lapsed into a pained silence.
Poor Iris. It was a trifle awkward when one's sister was in love with one's best friend's husband. Violet roused herself to fill the uncomfortable pause. "It's truly wonderful, Honora. I couldn't be happier for you, and for Iris."
I never should have come here.
"I always thought Lord Derrick handsome." Honora cast a besotted glance at her husband, who was seated at the other end of the table. "But it's only since I married him that I think him the handsomest gentleman in the world."
Violet didn't follow Honora's gaze. She didn't need to look at Lord Derrick to know he was the handsomest gentleman in the world, and he was no less kind than he was handsome. "He's wonderfully handsome, Honora. Truly. I couldn't be happier for you."
"It's his eyes, I think. They're such a lovely brown. Don't you think he has remarkable eyes, Violet?"
Dear God. Compared to Honora's innocent brutality, Chinese torture felt like being nuzzled by a dozen purring kittens.
"They're wonderful, Honora, truly. I couldn't be happier about his eyes."
Iris choked on her wine, but Honora didn't seem to notice this strange reply. "Oh, I feel the same way. I adore his eyes. Well, not just his eyes."
Honora clapped her hand over her mouth, but not quickly enough to hide an uncharacteristically naughty giggle.
Violet raised her wineglass, but her hand was shaking so badly she couldn't bring it to her lips. Honora had always been the most decorous of the three of them, but Lord Derrick, it seemed, had transformed their modest friend into a shameless wanton.
"He has the loveliest lips. So firm, but gentle, too."
"He's always gentle, even when he's ... agitated."
She's a monster. A murderess.
"When I say agitated, I mean when he's —"
"Honora!" Iris's knife landed on her plate with a sharp crack. "I, ah ... I beg your pardon, dear, but who's that gentleman who's just come in?"
"Gentleman? What gentleman?" Honora, distracted at last, looked up as a tall gentleman in a dark blue coat and a lavishly embroidered scarlet waistcoat seated himself at the other end of the table. "Oh, that must be Lord Dare. He's a childhood friend of Lord Derrick's. He's just returned to London from a long stay on the Continent."
"Oh? How long?" Violet didn't much care how long Lord Dare had remained on the Continent, but she seized on it, desperate to turn the conversation away from Lord Derrick's firm lips.
"Two years. Lord Derrick told me Lord Dare despises England, and wouldn't be here now if he could have avoided it, but you see his black armband? His father passed away several weeks ago, so he was obliged to come home, to attend the memorial and assume the duties of the title. To hear Lord Derrick tell it, Lord Dare is quite put out by the whole business."
"Why, how rude of his father to spoil Lord Dare's prolonged Continental frolic. Pity he couldn't wait for more convenient timing to die." Such pointed sarcasm was a trifle unfair, and the words singed a bit as they rolled off Violet's tongue, but her misery had found an outlet at last, and Lord Dare never need know he was to be executed in her place.
Honora leaned forward and dropped her voice to a whisper. "From what I understand, he's had quite a frolic, indeed. The gossip has it he left a trail of broken hearts from Paris to Rome." She frowned. "It's terribly rude of him to arrive to dinner so late. For pity's sake, we're onto the dessert course already."
Violet watched as Lord Dare turned a charming smile on his dinner companions. Even from this distance she could see he was handsome, with a tall, lean frame, a sculpted jaw, and an overabundance of silky dark hair.
In Violet's experience — which was, admittedly, limited to one painful season of being laced into a tight corset and forced to endure the balls at Almack's — handsome gentlemen often hid staggeringly unhandsome ideas behind their charming smiles.
No, handsome gentlemen weren't to be trusted, and especially not this one — the waistcoat alone was proof of that. Lord Dare's clothes were in the height of fashion, of excellent quality and perfectly tailored, but a gentleman only wore a scarlet waistcoat embroidered with an intricate pattern of silver vines and masses of silver roses if he wished to be noticed.
Not that he needed the waistcoat for that. One was as likely to overlook a gentleman like Lord Dare as to forget to follow one breath with another.
His movements were graceful and confident, his smile easy, and if he was a trifle unkempt, it only added to his appeal. His unruly dark hair was a bit too long, his jaw not quite cleanly shaven, and his cravat just a shade off-center, the knot careless, as if it had been tied in a hurry. Despite the extravagant waistcoat, he looked almost as if he'd just rolled out of bed, and Violet hadn't the slightest doubt he had.
Not his own bed, either.
No, one wouldn't overlook Lord Dare, especially if one happened to be a lady. Not her, of course, but other ladies. Less sensible ones.
Violet raised her wineglass to her lips and took a healthy swallow. "So he's a rake. How shocking."
Honora smothered a laugh. "Now, Violet. How can you say so? You haven't even been introduced to him yet."
"No, and I'd just as soon keep it that way. I don't care for rakes."
They cared for her even less. There was nothing a rake despised more than a bluestocking, or a bluestocking a rake. They were natural enemies, like a mongoose and a cobra. Rakes dealt in nonsense, after all, and bluestockings were immune to nonsense, just as a mongoose was immune to a cobra's poison.
A smile curved Violet's lips. Her knack for creating apt analogies hadn't prevented her utter failure on the marriage mart, but it never failed to amuse her.
"Well, Violet, you're right, as usual. He is a rake, and a dreadful one, too. It seems Lord Dare has a lovely Italian villa, and an even lovelier Italian mistress he's anxious to return to."
"I can't think how Lord Derrick should be friends with him, if he's as awful as you say," Iris said. "They can't have much in common."
"Not anymore, no, though Lord Derrick says they were inseparable as boys." Honora fiddled with her wineglass, a pensive look crossing her face. "It's rather a sad story. Lord Dare had an elder brother, you see, but he was murdered by a highwayman several years ago. Such a tragic death, and now his younger brother is obliged to take a title he never expected to have, and doesn't want."
"Oh." Violet's voice softened. "That is rather sad —" She broke off, her gaze narrowing on Lord Dare as he raised his wineglass in a flirtatious toast to his dinner companion.
Violet and Iris's youngest sister, Hyacinth.
Hyacinth had been seated in a place of honor to Lord Derrick's right. She was a favorite of his, and because of her profound shyness he always insisted on taking care of his "little friend" in this way. It was kind of him, but it sometimes meant Hyacinth was seated far away from her sisters.
Tonight, she was seated right across from the wickedly handsome Lord Dare.
He was talking rather animatedly to her, his striking face alight with interest. Hyacinth listened to him with polite attention, but Violet could see the self-conscious flush on her sister's cheeks, and every one of her protective instincts rushed to the fore. "Take the ladies out, Honora."
Honora gave her a puzzled glance. "What, now? But I haven't finished my wine."
Iris glanced down the table, nudged Honora with an elbow, and jerked her chin in Hyacinth's direction. "Now would be best, Honora."
Honora followed Iris's gaze and rose at once to her feet.
Lord Derrick leapt up to open the door for the ladies, and his expression, as he watched his wife approach ...
Violet's heart lurched miserably in her chest.
She knew Lord Derrick loved Honora. He wasn't the sort of man who married a lady he didn't love. But to know a thing wasn't, alas, the same as witnessing it, and even as Violet's heart twisted with pain, she couldn't take her eyes off his face as he gazed at Honora.
His entire being was alight with joy, his brown eyes glowing with it. Honora was simply crossing the dining room, a common, everyday occurrence, and yet he watched her as if ... as if his every hope and dream had come to vibrant life in front of him.
Because it had.
He didn't just love Honora; he adored her. One had only to look at him to see there wasn't the smallest corner of his heart that didn't echo with Honora's voice, her laughter, her smile.
It wasn't any wonder Honora inspired such profound love. She was beautiful and kind and graceful, a diamond of the first water. She was the sort of lady who could bring the most jaded gentleman to his knees.
Whereas Violet ... wasn't.
She had the same dark blue eyes and fair hair that had made her sister Iris the belle of last season, but Violet's laughter didn't tinkle like silver bells. She didn't know how to toss her curls or flirt her fan. Her quadrille was a disgrace, and her musical abilities — well, even her grandmother had been brought low in defeat over Violet's tone deafness.
It wasn't as if she didn't have anything to recommend her, but the gentlemen of the ton didn't admire cleverness. They didn't fall into desperate passions over a lady who was intrigued by Chinese torture or could recite the particulars of a mongoose's immune system. No, the best such a lady could hope for was to be mocked and ridiculed.
"Violet? Are you unwell? You've gone white." Honora took her arm, her brows pinched with concern as she studied Violet's face.
To Violet's horror, tears threatened. Honora had been a true friend to her, and instead of swallowing her bitter disappointment over Lord Derrick, Violet had spent these past weeks begrudging Honora her happiness.
"I'm fine, dear. It's just a sudden headache."
Honora patted Violet's hand. "Why don't you go into the library and rest for a few moments? You can slip into the drawing room when you feel better."
"But Hyacinth —"
"She's all right. She's gone ahead into the drawing room with Iris, and Lord Huntington and Lord Derrick will join us soon."
Violet hesitated. She shouldn't abandon her younger sister, but just the thought of a few moments of solitary quiet to nurse her bruised heart made her ache with longing. "If you're certain."
"Of course I am." Honora smiled, gave her a gentle push in the direction of the library, and then turned to follow the last of the ladies into the drawing room.
Violet crept down the quiet hallway and slipped into the cool silence of the library, the faint scent of must and leather wrapping around her like an old friend. Ever since she was a child libraries had felt like home to her, and she didn't hesitate to let herself sink into the comforting embrace of this one.
She didn't bother to light a lamp, but lay down on one of the sofas in front of the fireplace. Darkness swallowed the room as the flames burned lower in the grate, until at last they disintegrated into a few glowing embers in a pile of ash.
Violet didn't mind the dark. She'd spent many evenings alone in her grandmother's library, cradling dusty books in her hands and pondering the pattern of invisible fingerprints on those old, crackling pages. And after all, it wasn't so terrible to be alone, was it? All of London might scorn the spinster bluestocking, but there was a freedom to it. Perhaps it was lonely at times, but books demanded nothing of her.
Not like people.
No, she was quite happy to be alone — Click.
Violet tensed as the catch on the library door released, followed by a faint squeak as the door was eased open, and then closed again with a quiet thud.
Thinking Honora had come to fetch her, Violet opened her mouth to make her presence known, but before she could utter a word she was interrupted by a low, masculine growl, then a high-pitched gasp.
"Stop that, my lord! You'll tear it."
Violet heard a noise that sounded like a playful slap, and then an unmistakable feminine giggle, and she instinctively sank lower into the sofa so she wasn't visible from the door.
"No, we haven't time for the bodice, my lord. Just raise my skirts and be quick, before we're missed."
Raise my skirts? That was not Honora.
"Sorry, love, but I can't forego the bodice. Not when the contents of it are so magnificent. And I'm never quick."
The lady with the magnificent bosom let out a throaty laugh. "Yes, I remember that about you, but we haven't time for ... oh. Oh, my."
There was a low, wicked chuckle, a faint rustle of clothing, and then what sounded like a coat hitting the floor. "Perhaps we have more time than you thought, my dear?"
Violet squeezed her eyes closed and raised her hands to her burning cheeks. Couldn't a lady enjoy a few private moments of peace without being forced to witness a disgraceful debauchery? For pity's sake, this was a library, not a brothel.
But surely they'd stop at a few harmless kisses? That was shameless enough — not to mention in shockingly poor taste — but even people with as little self-control as this wouldn't dare bring the, ah ... business to a conclusion right in the middle of Lord and Lady Derrick's library —
"Oh, yes. Put your hand ... yes, there. Faster ..."
The lady's words were lost in a long, soft moan that made Violet's entire body burst into flames of embarrassment.
"Hold your skirts up for me, love ... yes, like that. Ah, sweetheart, you're so ... now let me just ..."
Violet didn't get to hear what he meant to do, but whatever it was, the lady must have permitted it, because in the next moment there was a grunt, then a sharp gasp and a quiet thud, as if someone had been shoved back against the door.
And then shoved again, and again, and again in a steady, measured rhythm.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "More or Less a Countess"
Copyright © 2018 Anna Bradley.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bluestocking vs Rake = HEA What a wonderful, fun book! Violet Somerset is a bluestocking and writing a book which she keeps secret. At a dinner party she meets Nick Balfour, Lord Dare, and watches him check out her younger, shy sister Hyacinth. At her friend Honora’s request Hyacinth played a lovely sonata which Dare enjoyed. Later in the evening, Violet went back to get her sister’s wrap and he mistakes her for Hyacinth. Nick has been living in Italy and didn’t expect to be Lord Dare. His older brother was murdered and when his father died, he had to return to put the estate in order and find a bride. He plans to get her pregnant, leave her at the estate and return to Italy. Nick pays a call on the Somersets but thinks Violet is Hyacinth. She tells him she’s busy and leaves the room. He returns daily and finally catches her as she’s leaving the house to sketch drawings for the book she’s writing. She agrees to go with him if he’ll take her where she wants to go. And so, they spend a lot of time together working on her research. One thing she sees in a museum (won’t spoil it) is hilarious. There is so much more happening between Violet and Nick that I won’t spoil. I enjoyed this book very much and can highly recommend it.
Fast read and fun interactions between characters. Highly recommend entire series about the sisters. Will keep a smile on your face as you read.
Violet Somerset just wanted to die. In More Or Less A Countess, what she was enduring was a fate worse than death. Having to listen to her friend extol the virtues of her beloved new husband throughout the dinner party was more pain than she could bear. What her friend didn’t realize was that Violet was in love with Lord Derrick too. The worst part was that Lord Derrick was clearly in love with his wife. In an effort to avoid the unintentional pain inflicted by her friend, Violet escapes to the library after dinner. It is here that she encounters Lord Dare for the first time. Stealing into the library with another woman, Lord Dare is unaware of Violet’s presence. Unable to make herself known before they begin their assignation, Violet finds herself in the awkward position of listening. Lord Dare has been summoned home from his European travels to do his duty, find a wife and have an heir. When Violet realizes that Dare has set his sights on her sister, Violet knows she must act. Her sister Honoria would be no match for a rake like Lord Dare. When Dare mistakes her for Honoria, Violet does not correct him. Mistaken Identity And so it begins. This is a classic of the genre, an initial lie which later begins to consume the author of the lie. Once it is uttered it is very difficult to get out of a lie gracefully, Violet finds this out the hard way. I enjoyed how the author portrayed Dare as the ultimate (and unrepentant) rake. He and Violet seem to be very well matched pair. The book is second in The Somerset Sisters series, following More or Less a Marchioness. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I look forward to the release of the next in the series, More or Less a Temptress. Reviewed for LnkToMi iRead in response to a complimentary copy of the book provided by the publisher in hopes of an honest review.
More or Less a Countess by Anna Bradley The Somerset Sister #2 Awkward, tone deaf, klutzy, brilliant Violet Somerset has given up on marriage after her first year on the marriage market. Instead her dream is to write and illustrate a book and with that in mind she is willing to risk life and limb to go to sometimes unsavory places to get her sketches. Nobody really understands her quest to write the book of her dreams but her sisters Iris and Hyacinth support her as they can. One night Lord Dare, Nicholas or Nick to his friends, shows up for an evening event at his friend’s home…a friend that Violet had a crush on until HER friend ended up married to Lord Derrick crushing Violet’s dreams. Lord Dare, in need of an heir, thinks Hyacinth might be suitable with her ability to play Haydn on the pianoforte with such ease and beauty. Well, Violet is not willing to let her sister be courted by a roguish rake so when Nick mistakes Violet for Hyacinth she does not open his eyes and tell him who she really is. No matter who tells Violet she is playing with fire by keeping the fake name of her sister she won’t listen. No, she uses Lord Dare for her own reasons to get…sketches. And, the house of cards she builds thinking, nobody will be hurt, does eventually come tumbling down at about midway through the book. With both Nick and Violet keeping secrets and hiding how they really feel it takes quite a bit of time for them to work out a way to be happy together but in the end…it is oh so very worth the pain they go through to get there. I loved the interactions between Nick and Violet whether funny or steamy. The fact that Nick was not turned off by a bluestocking but intrigued instead said a lot. The issues from his childhood and hers from her year in society worked against them both. Their jumps to conclusions without communicating with one another were also a problem they needed to learn to surmount. I really enjoyed this book and the way it all came together. I wanted to smack one or the other a time or two but only to make them see sense. Did I like this book? Definitely Do I want to read Hyacinth’s story? Without a doubt Is there anything I didn’t like in the book? Can’t think of anything. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books – Lyrical Press for the ARC ~ this is my honest review. 5 Stars
I absolutely LOVED Violet and Nick's story!! Nick has promised his grandmother that he will find a wife (one in which he will get an heir on and then go back to Italy and his mistress) and Hyacinth Somerset seems to be the perfect choice. But when he starts to spend time with her, he starts to doubt his decision. She isn't at all like what his first impressions were. Violet knows that Nick thinks she is her sister. But when he starts to court her, she decides to use him as a way to travel to many unsafe places to get sketches for her book. She will eventually tell him the truth, after she gets what she wants. What neither of them counted on was the attraction that would blossom between them. What will Nick do when he learns the truth of her identity? Can their budding romance survive the deception? OMG! I couldn't put the book down!! My emotions were all over the place while reading and my heart was breaking right along with the characters! This is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!! I can't wait to read Hyacinth's story, More or Less a Temptress, which comes out in November!!
Great characters. Love the series.
London - 1817 Nicholas (Nick) Balfour, the Earl of Dare, has returned to London from Italy. He prefers living on the Continent and thought he would be able to live there all the time. However, his older brother, Graham, died and now Nick of the new Earl. The only family he has left is his aunt. She informs him that he must wed, get an heir, and settle at his estate as it is in need of some repair. This is the last thing he wants to do but his aunt controls the family money so he has no choice but to do as she says. At a recent soiree, Nick watches the lovely, young Hyacinth Somerset playing piano, and thinks she would be a woman to pursue as a wife. However, Hyacinth’s older sister, Violet, sees him as a rake and wants to protect Hyacinth from him. When he calls on “Miss Somerset”, he is met by Violet and thinking she is Hyacinth, is informed that his attentions are not welcome. Note: The sisters look quite alike. But Nick is determined to get to know her so he comes to visit her frequently. Violet’s grandmother wants her to have a second season because she was not successful in getting a husband during her first season. Violet is against it because she has no interest in marriage. Her passion is the book she is writing called “A Treatise on London for Bluestockings and Adventuresses.” It’s about various parts of London, complete with sketches, that lean toward the macabre. To make her sketches, she sometimes has to sneak out of the house, but with Nick showing up, she asks him to take her to these places. Still thinking she is Hyacinth, they see one another often until they get caught together. What will happen now? This story had some humorous parts and the idea of Nick not knowing she was really Violet is a good one, but it dragged on too long. How many times can you really get away with that? The lack of communication and perceived hurts that follow seemed somewhat shallow to me. However, I’m sure readers will like some of the characters. The “real” Hyacinth is a sweetheart and I think I will really love her story if it is next in the series. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
It's hot outside. Summer refuses to cool down. My best advice is to kick back in an air-conditioned room with a comfy chair and read a good book. On August 7th you can pick up a copy of More Or Less A Countess by Anna Bradley and enjoy the, once again, lovely journey she's given us. Ms Bradley knows how to make the early 1800's seem heavenly with come-out seasons and house parties. Our hero is Nicholas Balfour, Earl of Dare. He's a lovely guy but he's sad and angry inside and not on the cover darn it. Nick is trying to control things around him since his life seems to be a mess. His aunt has decreed Nick will marry and do it asap. Our heroine is Violet Somerset, a self-confessed bluestocking. All the Somerset sisters are knock-outs, golden haired, blue-eyed ladies the men are crazy for. Except Violet who can't manage to act like a simple minded damsel in distress. Our hero mistakes Violet for her sister, Hyacinth, she doesn't correct him and here we go.. Nick and Violet each have their secret reasons for playing this "courting" game. As time passes Violet realizes Nick isn't like other rogues and she begins to fall in love with man he really is. In getting to know each other guilt sets in about the game but neither can fess up and say goodbye. When they're caught together a hasty marriage occurs. Violet wants to help the man she loves and married, but how to soothe his hurt and bring joy to his life again is a wonderful part of this story. Violet turns out to be a wise woman and Nick finally realizes that the bluestocking was just the mate for him. The journey of these two characters involves emotions from A to Z.. The Somerset and Sutherland families have been twining together since 2015. The handsome man on the cover of the first book caught my attention but the story kept me coming back again and again. More Or Less A Countess has a marvelous romantic ending. I'm not telling so you'll have to get your hands on the book to read the journey and the happily ever after we readers demand. Stay cool, hydrated and happy reading.
This was a well-written, entertaining book. Violet is reconciled to being a spinster, but when a rogue starts showing interest in her younger sister, she will do anything to keep her sister safe, including posing as her. Nicholas is enjoying his life of freedom, but his grandmother makes him promise to marry. He plans to marry the meekest bride he can find, set her up on his estate and continue his independent life. Neither of them planned on what would happen once they started spending time together! I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading other books by this author.
This is a delightful beginning to the Somerset Sisters series. We met the older two Somerset sisters in the Sutherland Scandals series and now we get excellent introductions to the younger sisters (Iris, Violet, and Hyacinth) in this book. It was also nice to re-visit Charlotte and her Captain West and to learn how happy they are ‘rusticating’ in the country. We also get a re-visit with Lady Annabel from Charlotte’s book – I don’t know if it will happen, but I’d really like to see her get her own HEA. I believe this book is as much about two people discovering and embracing who they really are as it is about their love story. Phineas Knight (Finn), Marquess of Huntington and Iris Somerset both live behind masks – maybe they’ve lost who they really are because they constantly present a different fact to the world. Iris gets her grand epiphany first and gives Finn a run for his money after that! High spirited, stubborn, outspoken, fun-loving Iris Somerset had buried all of those traits deep within her when she came to London for her season. Mostly to please her grandmother and to give her sisters a scandal-free chance at marriage. She presented herself as quiet, demure and biddable and became the most desirable lady of the season. She was courted by the very proper Marquess of Huntington and accepted his proposal though they hardly spoke when they were together and certainly didn’t know a thing about each other. She was actually okay with that – until ….. Very prim, proper and oh so aristocratic Phineas Knight, Marquess of Huntington needed a wife. He thought the debutants were all pretty much interchangeable and he didn’t really care which one he got as long as she was quiet, proper and biddable. His first choice was Lady Honora, but he was perfectly fine with Iris. Finn’s family had a scandal and he had become the Marquess at eight years old. Then, he was raised by indifferent guardians who shipped him off to school and left him there. He never knew love or family - nor was he ever allowed to be a child. Because of the scandal, he was constantly taunted, teased and bullied. It is a wonder that he turned out as well as he did. That childhood shaped Finn into the man who abhorred anything improper or scandalous. After overhearing a scene between Finn and his former mistress, Iris finally realized she could NOT be the person she was pretending to be. In a pique, she broke off the engagement. She hadn’t really thought through the implications of doing that – so she didn’t tell anyone but Finn. There is a villain in the picture and Finn wants to protect her from him. She won’t have it – and becomes more and more the person he just knows he doesn’t want for a wife – but – he wants Iris more and more. He’ll have a devil of a time wooing her – can he win her? You’ll just have to read the book and see. This book is well plotted and well written with fully developed and interesting characters. I will be excited to read Violet’s book next. Please check out my reviews at: Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/ Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages... Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview "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."
Warning. Mistaken identity may lead to love! Violet Somerset, a true bluestocking was done with the marriage market. The one man she had held affection for married her best friend. Attending a dinner with her grandmother and younger sister Hyacinth, she meets Nick, Lord Dare. Nick is back in England after inheriting the Earldom unexpectedly that should have gone to his elder brother. My heart just ached for Nick because he had grown up feeling he was never as good as his older brother and always feeling inferior. But he needs to marry for money soon to pull the estate out of ruin. Sitting across from Hyacinth at the dinner, he determines she will be perfect. But he approaches Violet, mistaking her for her sister and the adventure begins. Violet intends to protect her sister from Lord Dare and tries to warn him off. But Nick will not be pushed away and he and Violet end up together time and again. This was such a wonderful story that I could only smile at some of the prose and be delighted with the two main characters as well as the secondary. Nick deserved his happy ever after just as much as Violet and I could not wait to see what happened!! Lori Dykes
A wild ruse and past ghosts will bring these two together and it won’t be a fairytale. There are quite a few ups and downs with them and you may want to knock them both upside the head. But you will love them both in the end. Their first meeting was a confusing mess that led them on an adventure. I knew they were a perfect match when it came to the conversation in the museum and everything afterwards. The way he found out about the ruse was not how I expected and I didn’t see the rest coming. When they finally were happy I wanted to cheer. Violet is not your average bluestocking with where her interests lay, but that’s what makes her perfect! I loved her from the start because of how different she was and that she wasn’t afraid to ask questions about anything. She almost gave up, but then she had the perfect plan that made me smile and laugh. Nicholas is not how he appears to others and is haunted by ghosts of his past. As you get to know his story it’s heartbreaking and explains so much about his. When she made him see what the real problem was it was like he was a new man. I loved him from the start because he cared about her right away and didn’t realize it. I absolutely loved Gibbs in every scene and agreed with her grandmother near the end. Copy provided for an honest and voluntary review
I received an ARC of this book to read from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. More Or Less A Countess is the second book in Anna Bradley’s excellent Somerset sisters series. It could be read as a stand-alone but I do recommend reading the first book More or Less a Marchioness too because it is very good. Nicholas Balfour has returned from Italy at the request of his Grandmother to take up his duties as the Earl of Dare now that his father has passed away. Nicholas could never live up to the expectations of perfection his father had for him after he became heir when his beloved older brother died so he took the opposite course and became a rogue and a rake. One of the duties Nicholas is expected to take up is to marry and provide an heir. His plans to wed and bed a bride and then to return to his mistress in Italy are thrown into to disarray when he mistakes Violet Somerset for her very quiet and shy sister Hyacinth. Violet a passionate bluestocking who has just had a horrible first season begins the deception first as means of protecting her shy sister from the attentions of a rake and secondly because Nick can escort her to the locations she needs to sketch for her book which is one no delicate young lady should be writing. At times laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking I highly recommend this story. Quite Steamy. Publishing Date August 7, 2018 #NetGalley #MoreOrLessACountess.
Another wonderful book in this series. (Can be read without reading the first book, in case you wish to). Violet Somerset is a very unusual lady for her time. It might be said she's rather unusual for any time, but that's not the point. Luckily, Nicholas Balfour, the Earl of Dare, needs someone unusual. He is still reeling from his brother's tragic death, and wants to get out of England and away from his memories as fast as he can. But along comes Violet, and he's intrigued. This story carries you along the twists and turns, ups and downs, of their relationship in a very engaging way. I'm sorry to have to leave them now that I've finished the book. Hopefully they will make an appearance in the next book in the series.
The Somerset sisters are quite the trio. Violet is the bookish one and is not looking for a husband. Lord Dare is back from the continent and is expected by his aunt to marry and produce an heir. He hopes to do this and then go back to Italy and his mistress. He decides to court Hyacinth, the youngest and most shy of the sisters. Due to a mistaken identity, it's Violet that he meets. He thinks she's mad, then recognizes that she is very intelligent. There's an old love and a mistress is in the background. Will jealousy and misunderstanding keep this couple apart? A naughty romp thru London makes this a favorite book. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review and no compensation otherwise.
Watch out for promises to Grandmothers! She’d rather be a spinster but promises she’ll attend one London season. He enjoys the life of a rake but promises he will wed. Nicholas Balfour, Earl of Dare, has found the perfect meek, mild miss to be his wife. He’ll marry her and place her in the country leaving him free to return to his rakish ways in London. Except his miss isn’t as mild and meek as he thinks. A case of mistaken identity gives Violet Somerset the perfect opportunity to protect her sweet and innocent sister from the Devil of Dare. What she learns about the man goes against all she knows. As Violet’s ruse and Nicholas’ pursuit continues, feelings start to change. When the truth comes out can love conquer all? Delightful tale by Anna Bradley! A heroine with a spine of steel and the will to protect a loved one and a hero who’s tough on the outside with a deep sense of family love, loyalty, and enough compassion to forgive.
He's a notorious rake. She's a headstrong spinster. They share nothing in common, except for matchmaking grandmothers and few duress promises to keep. She's protecting her sister. He's protecting his way of life. Neither expected to feel fireworks. Nicholas and Violet are about to learn that when it comes to love there is no tried and true plan, only emotion. More or Less a Countess steamrolls it's way right into your heart. A steamy battle of hearts.