A review by readclever
The Countess Conspiracy, by Courtney Milan

challenging dark emotional informative sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Normally, I love Courtney Milan's heroines. I could not like Violet. She was so shrouded in self-abuse via thought, which grew tiresome ten pages in. It took her way too long to get some gumption and stop living in the past. Like 75% of the book.
SpoilerIt wasn't just imposter syndrome, but a key part of her personality. Post her father's suicide.

The story spends a lot of time with tangential side plots, often with similar stories, and yet it doesn't help the main thread. Bless Sebastian for loving her. It's not that Violet is prickly, or even unlikeable.I love characters like Jennifer Estep's Gin Blanco. It's the fact Violet does nothing but put herself down. And depends on others to fulfill her needs since she refuses to stop calling herself selfish.

The only saving grace was the last 20% or so. Even with even more melodrama. It felt more like a romance. There's a lot of inconsistency in the writing, how a character mercurial flips traits depending on plot need. And an exorbitant amount of miscommunication and hidden truths.

The miscarriage information in addition to her first husband's sexual assaults were a lot to handle, too. In total, Violet had 19 in 11 years. It seemed like a lot of heroine torture for the sake of it. I struggle with infertility and that number absolutely dropped the book almost a full star. Because it loses impact among all the other melodrama. (And I love me some melodrama. Hello 1990s soaps)

I waddled between 2 and 3 stars. I only came down on 3 because Sebastian was a very well-developed character, very patient, and there were great points in the book. It's a very low 3 stars.

But I didn't enjoy the read and won't ever reread. I usually love the heroines and focus on their arcs when reviewing. I can't in this one. And that makes me sad. I'm sad I couldn't love a popular, well-regarded recced book. Unfortunately, sometimes you can't.

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