The Other Countess is a YA historical romance set in Elizabethan times by Eve Edwards.
When Ellie (titled as the Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, worthless and penniless as it may be) was twelve, her father was turned out of the house they had been living in. Her father's shared obsession with the Earl of Dorset of the alchemical search for turning items into gold left the Earl quite destitute in death. So, when William Lacey (at the time only fourteen) became the new Earl his first order of business was to get Ellie and her father off their property.
That was the first time Ellie and Will met. It was not pleasant.
Four years later, Ellie's affection for her father wars with her frustration with his alchemy pursuits. They are often poor and certainly never well-liked. Her witty tongue and surprisingly learned mind makes her even more of a pariah in Queen Elizabeth's court. However, her Spanish-infused beauty and feisty spirit make her eye-catching to some undesirables - one of which is Will Lacey.
Will doesn't know of his past with Ellie when he firsts sees her on his return to court. He's there to find a wealthy bride and save his family from financial ruin - all of which started with his father's time with Ellie's father. But Ellie entrances him, beguiles him, and intrigues him like no other - and before he knows it, he's convinced he's in love with her.
Yet to be in love with Ellie does not help his family - she has not a penny to her name and the suspicion of being the daughter of a Spanish Countess - a country England is not at peace with. Not to mention, there are others who most certainly don't want them together. What will they do?
The Other Countess is foray into the rowdy, randy, complicated world of the Elizabethan court, mixing family pride, misconceptions, and political intrigue with attraction and allure. It's definitely a fun, frothy historical to enjoy.
However, I did have a hard time liking Will all that much. His character tended to be judgmental, mean, and self-absorbed. With time and patience, a better Will did begin to surface and chemistry with Ellie became more romantic, yet I was still never completely convinced of them as a couple.
Now, Ellie I liked. She's smart and self-sufficient and honorable. She's, in my opinion, in the worse situation here. We see the difficulty of being a female with values and self-respect in a time when being a mistress might be the easier choice. The forbidden love that develops between the two leads is certainly ooh-la-la, but not as spicy and authentic-feeling as I would've liked it to be.
Yet The Other Countess is quite entertaining with it's view of class differences, social life, and hidden intentions. It's fascinating and scintillating with it's historical details and many characters, some with very questionable morals.
Overall I found it a good start to a series, though it lacked the depth that would have lifted it up a notch, in my opinion. When later some depth was attempted, it felt a bit overdramatic to me. It was effective, but not as honest and raw as I felt it could be. But I will most assuredly be keeping my eyes open for the next installment - The Queen's Lady - and look forward to it being as good, if not better, than The Other Countess!