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The Substitute Countess (Mills & Boon Historical) Paperback – 7 Jun 2013
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About the Author
Lyn Stone studied art and worked in Europe while she visited the places she now writes about in her historicals. It was when she was working as an illustrator that she had the idea of trying to freelance romance novel covers. But, while studying the market on covers, she became firmly hooked on the contents of the books and decided to try writing instead! Lyn loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted via her website guestbook at: www.eclectics.com/lynstone
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Not romance. If it was a different genre, it would have been okay and less frustrating to read.
Laurel has grown up confined but well-cared for in the convent, with only a slight memory of her parents. Upon leaving the convent, Laurel becomes a governess to unruly Spanish brats, though she longs to start her own family. Just when she is molested by yet another employer, Jack comes and saves her, taking her back to England as his "dear cousin." Immediately, he proposes a marriage of convenience, his stated reason to protect Laurel's reputation as they would have traveled alone on the trip. Laurel agrees, and thus their marriage of convenience begins on deceit, as Jack neglected to tell Laurel of her inheritance.
There are frankly too many plot holes and characterization problems in this story for me to enjoy it. Despite the author's attempt to show that Jack had a conscience, that his guilt was overwhelming when he deceived Laurel for his own gain, he never did much to redeem himself. If anything, he became worse as the story progressed. Upon their initial meeting, Jack was intrigued by Laurel's hidden passion under an unassuming exterior. As he learned more about her, she showed intelligence, humor, and kindness, all of which surprised but pleased him. However, he behaved like an arrogant lord-of-the-manor, not letting Laurel even see the household accounts when she wanted to make herself useful with her good accounting ability. First, he didn't want her to know he was using her money, and second, he simply didn't think that was Laurel's place as a female. His chauvinistic attitudes were immensely grating, and worse, he does not become much better by the end of the story. The highlight of his faults would have to be when he accused Laurel of deceiving him (SPOILER: The former Earl's daughter had died as a babe, and the family solicitor sent his own daughter, Laurel, to the convent. So Laurel is not the true daughter of the former Earl). Laurel had done no such thing, but Jack accused a 3-year-old of perpetrating a grand scheme against him when he was the one who sought to take her money!
By this point, I could barely stomach the story. What comes after is Laurel finally growing a backbone and running away, before Jack could have her thrown in jail. Jack, suddenly realizing how much he wants Laurel, went chasing after her across Europe, where he had to confront a sex trader who was randomly thrown in the story as a last minute adversary, and then it's happily-ever-after for the two. While he was trying to find Laurel, Jack complained of Laurel's faults yet could barely acknowledge any of his own. He admits that were she to not have run away, he likely would have thrown her to jail, believing her to have tricked him in marriage.
I would not recommend this book. There is barely a plot, and the hero is just downright overbearing and chauvinistic. Laurel is better, though she lacked a personality throughout most of the story and suddenly became brave enough to run away from her accusing love near the end. (All things considered, it is understandable to not wait for someone to arrest you on false charges.) This is the first book I've read by the author, and may just be the last.