Sebastian Malheur, whose ground breaking theories on genetics are rocking Victorian England, has a secret. His theories aren’t his own. They’re the work of his best friend, Violet, the Countess of Cambury. The weight of this secret becomes too much for him and he refuses to present Violet’s work as his own. Violet now has a problem. She needs the world to hear her theories but a lady cannot be a scientist. A lady does not discuss sex in public, even if it is just plant sex. To do so would ruin her reputation and that of her family. Her family doesn’t need anymore scandals.
To top things all off, Sebastian confesses his love for Violet. She can’t accept his advances for her own secret reasons. Somehow Violet needs to get her work out in public while keeping Sebastian at arms length.
At first Violet is an annoyingly neurotic character who can’t even stand to be touched. Later it’s revealed why, but it was frustrating for me at the beginning. Girl, you need to relax. She’s been trained since she was a youngun’ that her wants and needs don’t matter, that her wants are selfish. This is her biggest hurdle. Like the other countesses, she’s got secreeeeets too. Lots of hints at her secret didn’t make it hard to figure out (for me anyway). It’s mentioned several times that Violet is not traditionally good looking, which made me like her even more.
As with all the books in the Brother’s Sinister series, the heroine is way more interesting than the hero. Sebastian is a rake with a heart of gold. I didn’t find him particularly intriguing. He’s got this great big crush on Violet and that’s about it. He’s all about winning her over, which is nice but not very exciting. I did like that he loved Violet for being Violet, as prickly as she was.
Still, I loved The Countess Conspiracy. Courtney Milan jam packs her plot with lots of scandalous subplots (the mother…omg, the mother!) and some twisty bits. The sexytimes are plenty sexy. What really won me over were the lady scientist parts. Milan remarks in her author notes that many wives of famous scientists “helped” their husbands…ahem, did most of the work…but their contributions to science were ignored. We’ll never know just how much women did for science. Violet gets the happy ending they all deserved.
So go read The Countess Conspiracy. It’s my favorite of this series so far.
Thanks to Victory Editing via Netgalley for this review copy.