Thursday 7 June 2018

#CBR10 Book 43: "Counting on a Countess" by Eva Leigh

Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 3 stars

Christopher "Kit" Ellingsworth was given an Earldom for his bravery during the Napoleonic wars. It doesn't really bring in any money, though, so Kit is pretty much penniless and mounting up debts living the life of a libertine upon his return to London, everything to forget his time in battle. Hence he is surprised when he is told his mentor wishes to leave him a substantial long as he finds a wife within the next month. It doesn't leave him very much time to find someone willing to marry him.

Tamsyn Pearce has been an orphan since she was in her early teens and while her aunt and uncle seem to care very little about the lives and fates of the residents of the little Cornish village of Newcombe, Tamsyn feels differently. For the last eight years, she and the villagers have  run a successful smuggling operation, making sure the taxes could get paid and everyone would be able to feed themselves and their children. She's in London to find a buyer for her latest shipment of illicit goods, and if she could find a wealthy husband who won't ask too many questions as well, that would solve a lot of her problems. Her uncle wants to sell the family manor, Tamsyn's childhood home, and she needs enough funds to purchase it herself.

Kit and Tamsyn meet at a ball when he has a week left before the stated deadline. There's an instant spark between them and both need to find a spouse in a hurry, so they agree to marry. It's only after she is wed that Tamsyn discovers that her ex-soldier husband doesn't look kindly on law-breakers. Can she keep her handsome new husband from discovering what she and the villagers have been doing for the last eight years? Kit, on the other hand, discovers after signing all the legal paperwork, that he does have access to a substantial fortune, but his lovely new wife is the one who will be holding the purse strings. Kit wants to use the money to build a pleasure garden to help him forget about the horrors of war. Can he persuade his wife to surrender the funds?

Normally, I really like Eva Leigh's historical romances, but I'm not sure if it's because I just wasn't in the mood for it, or if this really was just a weaker entry of the author's. It's been over a month since I finished the book and I must be honest, I don't remember too many details about the plot. For readers looking for a lot of smexy times, it should be noted that it takes Kit and Tamsyn about two thirds of the book to finally consummate their marriage. So it's not exactly the raunchiest of reads.

Obviously, the big thing standing between the couple is Tamsyn's smuggling secrets. She needs to keep the truth from her husband, who while being an unrepentant rake before tying the knot, nevertheless risked his life in combat for king and country and doesn't look kindly on the law being broken through smuggling. Apart from that, the couple may have entered into a marriage of convenience, but both fall rather quickly for one another - I just didn't care all that much. Juggling reading, blogging and motherhood means I need something a bit more out of the ordinary to hold my attention. There is nothing badly wrong with this book, it just didn't wow me and has clearly not stayed very fresh in my memory. It's a fun enough, run of the mill historical. That is not to say others may not enjoy it more than I - but I would not encourage people to go out and pay full price for it either. I'll probably pick it up myself when I find it in a sale.

Judging a book by its cover: While the book was so so, and didn't really stick in my memory all that much, this cover is lovely. The cover model is very pretty and has the correct hair colour for Tamsyn. The dress is period appropriate (even though it's unlikely anyone on the windswept Cornish coast would show off that much naked skin) and the colour is gorgeous. The backdrop evokes a romantic sunset - I really like this a lot. Eva Leigh frequently has excellent covers - this is another to add to the list.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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