The Other Countess and The Queen's Lady*
When I found out in about April 2011 that there was going to be a third book in this series now named The Lacey Chronicles, I knew I had to get it and read it as soon as possible. So I pre-ordered it as it was half price and it was delivered over at the end of August, a couple of days before the release day. I was rather happy really. Due to commitments to other things, this is the first chance I've had to read this book and BOY, IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT. Warning: I will be gushing on how much I love this book.
Synopsis: A chance encounter finds Kit, actor and illegitimate brother to the Lacey brothers, falling hopelessly in love with the charms of a rich merchants daughter, Mercy. Who is also a Puritan. The match is doomed. A vagabond marrying a merchant's daughter - and a Puritan - it cannot be. As Mercy starts to call equally for Kit as well, she knows that she might have to renounce her family name and leave home. Will she choose duty over her heart? Suddenly, Kit is caught is a dangerous web, one which could be fatal.
Review: For avid readers of the Lacy Chronicles, we know that we were introduced to Kit in Book 2 of this series, The Queen's Lady, as a close friend of Milly Porter, who is consequently good friends with Lady Jane (now James Lacey, the middle brother's, wife - she was focused on in Book 2) Milly Porter goes on to marry Diego, a servant of the Lacey family. The brothers found out that Kit was their illegitimate brother and let him into the family as if his illegitimacy was non-existent.
This book focuses on this mysterious Kit that we have been only recently introduced to and his search for love, like his previous two brothers. From reading this, I can tell that some will not enjoy it as the format is rather similar to the previous two books although with different people and the central theme of the theatre, but I personally like this consistency. I know that I am going to probably enjoy it and this type of 'historical romance' books have become my favourite.
Saying this, when I first started the book, I was doubtful if I would enjoy it completely. I was actually rather worried when I started the book, as for me the beginning was...well, average, as I think I wrote about the intro in The Queen's Lady. The lengthy passage on Mercy thinking herself sinful started to annoy me. The long description of Kit's debut and then, being 'purified' was, although a little bit more interesting, not anything up to the standards Eve Edwards has placed herself. Now, before any readers that LOVE these series, as do I, start throwing insults at me for saying this - wait.
Then, we hit the moment when they meet and suddenly, I was falling in love with Edwards' writing all over again, like I have twice before. I could feel the excitement in the room they were in, the emotions of Kit and Mercy - everything. Every time I read Eve Edwards' books, I fall into this historical paradise which I hardly want to leave in a hurry.
Here, again, we have old and new characters. Will, James and especially Tobias all feature in this book and help Kit along the path to try and marry Mercy; Ladies Ellie and Jane are also in it briefly. Milly and Diego are also featured briefly. For new characters, we are introduced to Mercy's family - her strict, uptight father, John; her siblings, Faith and Edwin - both more Puritan and well behaved than the younger Mercy; her jolly aunt, Rose and the hilarious character of her Grandmother Isham - who for me made the comedy in this book. They all have a part to play in getting Mercy and Kit together. All of these are interesting characters that you will enjoy. Kit and Mercy play engaging protagonists, although Kit's humour favoured me more.
The great thing about these books are they are always so detailed historical wise. I learnt so much about the world of theatre (useful as I'm reading Othello in English Literature) and being a Puritan (by the way, apparently Rebecca is a Puritan name...). The language, although not quite so '1600's' as Shakespeare is, the language uses odd sentences and words that wouldn't be used nowadays but makes it so it is still easy to understand. The bit which I smiled at the most was the casual references to big events and characters that we all know about in modern day. Kit is in the same theatre company as William Shakespeare himself who is bursting at the chance to write - 'The company was still a little in shock that something so good could come from rural Stratford' (Page 252). And a mention of 'the what-his-name Marlowe' which really shows you what people those days must have thought of these normal seeming guys. Who knew they would be remembered four centuries later?
This book really shone out for me and I enjoyed it immensely. The characters of Mercy and Kit are incredibly entertaining and it's lovely to see their relationship flower and personalities deepen into characters that I would love to meet. The romance once again is there in force but not too sensual to offend anyone, you can tell deeply that they do truly love each other. The book is one of the best of 2011 so far and coming home every day this book from college, I just wanted to snuggle up and go back to the wonderful world of the Lacey's, Let's hope, there are some more coming soon. Keep up the good work, Edwards.
Verdict: The beginning is a tad rocky, but the book as a whole makes up for it.
I give it a 5 out of 5
Review of The Other Countess
Review of The Queen's Lady
Author's Website: http://eve-edwards.co.uk/
Pages: 256 (also includes first chapters of The Other Countess and The Queen's Lady)
Publisher: Razorbill, Penguin
Challenges: Historical Fiction, BBC