The Countess Conspiracy is the third novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 4.1.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]
Content Note: abuse, domestic violence, miscarriages
Sebastian Malheur has quite a reputation, and the least of it is that he is a rake. No, he is known for his scientific endeavors about the inheritance of traits, a topic bound to rile people up. Only what people don’t know is that Sebastian is merely the public face of these theories. They are actually the work of his best friend, Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. Violet would like to remain respectable and pursue her work in peace. But Sebastian needs for things to change. This causes the two of them to re-evaluate their relationship and come clean about more than just their science.
I enjoyed The Countess Conspiracy, though maybe not quite as much as I hoped I would. I just didn’t fall in love with Violet and Sebastian as a couple.
I work at university myself, so women in science are of particular interest for me. And that part of the book was absolutely what worked best for me. The way Violet gets dismissed for being a woman which is why she ultimately turns to Sebastian for help, was infuriating, but wonderfully enough Milan doesn’t leave it at that. Instead she goes on to show that this was a systematic issue that wasn’t just built for keeping women out of science and dismissing their contributions, but actually using them to advance the men’s careers. In short, I loved how Milan dealt with this.
I also very much loved Sebastian and the frank way he talks about his feelings for Violet, without the slightest trace of manipulation or playing games. He just says it like it is, and then patiently waits for her to sort things out for herself.
I loved Violet a little less, and that despite wanting to love her a lot. But I noticed how impatient I was with her and her hang-ups. I had to keep telling myself that her issues were absolutely understandable (they were) and that she absolutely deserved to take her time for figuring things out with Sebastian (she did). But it was a head thing and not an emotion thing. Emotionally, I was a little annoyed, and thought that things were made unnecessarily complicated by her. And then I was irritated with myself for my harsh reaction.
That’s probably what kept me from really falling into the romance of the story. Though the fact that it isn’t a funny book (which I expected after the banter that Sebastian and Violet provided in the previous novels), but a very angsty one certainly didn’t help. In fact, this is probably the first of Milan’s novels that I didn’t devour in a short time.
That being said, there is still a lot in the novel that I enjoyed – the science angle, as I mentioned, but also the reconnecting with a lot of the characters from the other novels in the series, as well as the subplots involving Sebastian’s and Violet’s siblings that both take a critical look at sibling relationships. I just wish that I could have rooted for Sebastian and Violet like I wanted to.
Summarizing: not the best stuff.