Madison Sisters #1
by Lynsay Sands
I listened to a MaineInfo.net library download. No remuneration was received and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The fairy tale courtship did not turn into a happily-ever-after . . .
Not until her husband dropped dead, that is. He had been horrible enough to Christiana during their short marriage, and she was not going to allow the traditional period of mourning to ruin her sisters’ debuts as well. So she decides to put him on ice and go on as if nothing’s happened . . .
Until the real earl appears. Richard Fairgrave had every intention of confronting his villainous twin who had robbed him of his name and title . . . only to discover that he had died. Quietly assuming his identity, Richard must now deal with a maddening desire for his ravishing inherited “wife”— certainly a gold digger and possibly a murderess. And Christiana must deal with an unwanted new “husband” . . . and they both must figure out what to do before the ice melts!
I enjoyed this story, but having listened to the second book in the series first found it very repetitive as much of the storyline is concurrent. And, I think it would cut both ways; if you read/listen to this first, the second would be about 1/2 repetitive.
This is a classic “evil twin” tale. Only the evil twin (George or “Dickie-George”) has really made life (literally) difficult for the good twin (Richard) who is the actual heir to a title and large fortune. What I still found unanswered was why the bad guy, who has already stolen the title and fortune from his brother, came up with a scheme to defraud Christiana and her family. The real Richard says it’s because “Dickie-George,” the evil twin would never have enough, and perhaps it is a way of emphasizing a total lack of honor or character, but that was always in the back of my mind as a weak part of the story.
I was not thrilled by the narration. I felt like the characters were more caricatures than interpreted characters; as if they were being spoofed on Saturday Night Live. But, Lynsay’s books do have a light voice and are often funny, so maybe caricature is more apt than realism. With the in-and-out of rooms with a dead body scenario, and the good twin, the “real earl” as it says in the book description, showing up, this is like one of the English drawing room comedies, except there are some serious bits as well. Imagine you find your dead husband, and pack him in ice then go off to a ball. When “he” walks into the ball, would you not just pass out in horror?!!
A big issue is the repetition I mention above: tabout three quarters of this book also appears, not word for word, in the series’ second book. This leaves me thinking it should be one book, not two and if I were buying these instead of getting them from a library I would be ticked off to have paid the price of an audio book, $20 or more, for each volume in the series. And I would have been unhappy to pay for it in paperback or Kindle as well with the degree of repetition. The third novel in the series, THE HUSBAND HUNT, seems to begin after the events included in the first two.
Of course, like all Lynsay Sands’ novels THE COUNTESS was an enjoyable way to pass time and I especially enjoyed hearing it as I weeded and pulled nails out of the porch. It’s amazing how much longer I will work when I am entertained. I admire that the main female character, Christiana is first impulsive and then, like me, thoughtful and worried. This shows a gradual building of trust and change in relationship rather than the speedy and unbelievable changes we often find in steamy romance.
I do recommend the series, but, if I could borrow the first two books in the series I would. And reading them in order is probably a better value than buying two books where much of the story line overlaps. And, I feel the first few chapters of the second book, THE HEIRESS would actually be good interspersed into THE COUNTESS. (See my Review of the Heiress in the “Related Links, below).
The of each book is available on Lynsay’s Website as are convenient purchase links.LYNSAYSANDS.NET (scroll down)