Book Review

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan


Title: The Countess Conspiracy
Author: Courtney Milan
Publication Info: Courtney Milan December 17, 2013
ISBN: 1937248305
Genre: Historical: European

Book The Countess Conspiracy - a photograph of a woman in a purple gown with an enormous skirt and bustle looking over her shoulder touching her chin with one gloved finger. Courtney Milan is a masterful writer who never disappoints.  The Countess Conspiracy is not my favorite of her books but I think it will make many romance readers very happy indeed. 

The plot is this:  Sebastian is the kind of rake we find in romance all the time – one who is not a jerk.  That is to say:  he does not despoil virgins, he does not string his lovers along with emotional promises, and he does not coerce the unwilling.  He is also a publically controversial figure.  Sebastian is a scientist who lectures about his belief that traits are passed on by means of sexual procreation – quite inflammatory stuff in Victorian England, which is when and where the book is set.

But, AHA!  Sebastian is not actually the person who has come up with these scientific insights – they are the work of Countess Violet, Sebastian’s best friend.  Violet is unable to get her papers published under her own name and so Sebastian fronts for her.  But Sebastian likes to be liked, and a significant portion of the public hates him, and so he tells Violet he won’t present her work as his any more.  This causes a shift in their relationship.  Somehow, and frankly I might have been drinking some Nyquil during this transition because I can’t remember it very well, Sebastian starts seriously courting Violet, who has been his platonic BFF for years.  Violet has vast amounts of trauma to overcome and she hates herself and believes everyone else hates her.  So Sebastian must use all his charm to win her over.

So here’s the thing, I read this while I was getting over Strep Throat (insert music of doom).  My experience was not altogether unpleasant – I watched a lot of Sleepy Hollow (yay, Sleepy Hollow), and I slept a lot and I took my antibiotics and read The Countess Conspiracy.  But it was all, including the book, kind of weird in that way that the whole world is weird when you are running a temperature for a long time and consuming large amounts of Nyquil instead of food.  The book felt off, for reasons I shall enumerate.  But I can’t help but wonder if it was really weird for the reasons I’ve come up with so I can sound clever, or if it was a perfectly coherent book and I was the one who was weird, what with the temperature and the yummy Nyquil?

Here are the reasons that the book seemed strange to me:

1. I thought the central conflict was going to be about how Sebastian wouldn’t present Violet’s work, and the impact this would have on her.  But Violet was like, “OK, fair enough” and that was that.  Towards the end of the book, the thread gets picked up again as Violet figures out how to present her own work, and it’s all very girl power.  I’m all about girl power, so that was great.  But it wasn’t a conflict between Violet and Sebastian, and I felt that some of the science stuff got lost in the larger mess of Violet’s horrible, horrible past life.

2. The conflict between Violet and Sebastian was about whether anyone could ever love Violet and whether Sebastian could have a relationship with her given her horror of sex.  And that was a fine conflict.  Violet’s trauma was so horrifying that it pretty much put me off sex too, and it’s historically plausible, and it was touching to see Sebastian win her trust.  But I was so convinced that this was going to be a story about the challenges of being a female scientist that I was totally thrown off by the actual main conflict.  I never quite caught up to what was actually going on. 

3. This is part of a series of stand-alone books that are loosely connected, so we’ve seen most of these characters before.  I have no memory of Violet being so angry and bitter.  Am I misremembering her?  Her appearance in The Duchess War (Carrie's Grade: A+) is one of a fun, playful, warm person.  Maybe the disconnect just reflects Violet’s carefully crafted public persona versus her interior life, but it was jarring.  I couldn’t recognize her.

4. And speaking of people I don’t recognize, I was totally shocked at how carelessly Oliver and Robert disregard Violet.  Since when have they been such jerks?  This led to a rather funny exchange in which Sebastian scolds them for being callous about Violet, and then Violet appears and makes the same speech about their treatment of Sebastian.  But still, who are these people?  Haven’t I just read all these other books about them in which they are great guys? 

For me, this book was full of dissonance and it was just too angsty for my personal taste, which is saying a lot since I have made my way through a LOT of Milan angst.  But, for readers who like angst, and who aren’t so attached to the other books (or simply didn’t interpret the characters the way I did, and also aren’t swigging Nyquil), this book will be a winner.  I say that because Milan remains a superlative writer.  If you look at Sebastian and Violet with fresh eyes and can let go of preconceptions about who they are based on past books, they are incredibly well drawn.  The use of language remains vibrant and Violet’s mom is a force of nature.  Milan takes her time with Sebastian and Violet so the conflict between them is believable (even though it’s not the conflict I thought we were going to be dealing with) and the resolution is believable as well.

Another thing I appreciated is that Violet solves her own problem (the one about how to present her own work).  She doesn’t need Sebastian to swoop in and save her.  He supports her beautifully, but she’s her own, capable person.  It was especially satisfying to see other women rally around her.

I wanted a book about women and science and I got that, but it was all mixed in with a completely different book about emotional trauma and recovering from sexual and emotional abuse.  They were both good books but I think I would have preferred to read them separately, not mixed together into one rather crowded story.   This is a great book for somebody, just not so much for me.  I feel like the book earns a B- for it’s general level of craft even though I wasn’t that crazy about it.  But I’m longing to hear what other people, who weren’t in a slightly altered state of consciousness when they read it, thought of it.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    ohhellsyeah says:

    I think I liked this book more than you did, because I enjoyed this book more than any Milan since Unveiled.  Which is not to say I did not enjoy the other Milan books, because I did, but not was much as I enjoyed this one.  I personally love crazy levels of angst and had no problem with science not being the main conflict.  It really wouldn’t have sense to me for it to have been the main conflict since Sebastien was Violet’s greatest supporter and Violet could not possibly have wanted her best friend to continue living a lie.  I felt that Sebastian was tired of being a fraud and lying to everyone he knew was the main reason he wanted to stop presenting Violet’s work.

    I also really liked the girl power stuff.  I loved the reaction of Violet’s mother when the big secret came and the fact that her mother really would do anything to protect her daughter. Sebastian was practically perfect and a nice antidote to the alpha male douchebags that populate much or Romancelandia. I also loved that the next time anyone sneers at me that romance novels (particularly historicals) are in sexist and misogynistic I can just make them read this book.

    I am with you on some of the other points, especially number 3.  Violet never came off as being cold in the other books.  Remember the scene in the Duchess war when Robert begs Violet and Sebastian not to embarrass him in from of Minnie and they proceed to do so in the way only old friends or siblings can?  I remember Violet being particularly funny (and friendly) in that scene and also that it was COMEDY GOLD.

    I also agree on point 4.  Sure, Oliver can be a bit oblivious at times but Robert is a really sensitive and intuitive guy.  There is no way either of them would have acted like that.  It was also complete nonsense that suddenly Violet was only Sebastian’s friend and not Robert and Oliver’s.  I call schenanigans on that.  See the above mentioned train scene and the fact that Violet was one of the three people at Robert’s bachelor party.

    Wow. That was a bit of a novel.

  2. 2
    Jamie Beck says:

    I hadn’t read any of her related books yet (for whatever reason, I don’t usually read series in order), so I wasn’t aware of some of the character discrepancies you note.  I adored Sebastian…Violet, not so much.  Yes, she had a traumatic past, but for some reason I didn’t have quite the empathy for her that I should have.  I think her absolute restraint and coolness was too controlled for my taste.  Even so, I did enjoy reading this book.  Maybe because I read without the need to dissect things for a book review, it is easier to gloss over certain issues and just enjoy the ride.  As you say, CM writes beautifully, and so I can get swept up into the story easily.  If I have a complaint, it was that it seemed like Sebastian cared for and sacrificed more for Violet than she ever did him.  It didn’t feel as balanced, which I don’t love.

  3. 3

    I absolutely loved this book – it wasn’t just my favorite Milan novel so far, but one of my very favorite books of 2013. I found it incredibly moving and beautifully written, and I loved the characters. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but I’ve never felt moved to re-read them, whereas this book is definitely a Keeper that I will be re-reading a LOT.

    Which isn’t – at all! – to say that you were wrong in your own response. It’s just interesting to see how subjective this stuff can be!

  4. 4
    Lynda Tisdell says:

    Let me get this right.  You read this book while under the influence of drugs, feeling lousy (and probably distant from everything, with a cold treated by Nyquil) and two out of three of your criticisms are that the plot wasn’t what you expected.  Since when is that a valid criticism? 

    You criticize Violet because she realizes the cost of deception on her best friend, respects his decision, and finds a solution.  Yes, if only Violet had spent the book persuading, arguing, hectoring, and trying to control Sebastian—that would have been better? 

    You found one of the major conflicts—Violet’s fear of sex and the loss of her life—“fine,” but it should have been on society’s rejection of female scientists instead.  Do you really believe a focus on scientific prejudice, not sexuality, would have made a better romance?  Besides, that’s irrelevant:  you can’t (or to be fair, shouldn’t) criticize a book for a path it didn’t take. And by the way, Milan did cover the extreme limitation of women in science throughout the book.

    Your third criticism is that the characterization wasn’t in sync with Milan’s previous portrayal in a PREVIOUS book.  Yes, I suppose that’s valid, except that even best friends can be blind, especially males about a female. 

    You owe Courtney Milan and your readers a review of this terrific book written by someone else.

  5. 5
    Dot Salvagin says:

    I have to agree with many of your points.  This was my least favorite book in the series and although I had trouble articulating the reasons to myself your analysis pretty much sums it up.  However, I would give this book a higher rating because it is so well written. When compared to other HR offerings this book is at the top of the ladder.  Milan is always so original in her plots. My pet peeve in this book is that I did want more about Violet’s mother’s involvement since it was just thrown out there (pushed there?) and left hanging.

  6. 6
    CarrieS says:

    @Lynda – just to clarify, I do think its fair to complain that a plot isn’t what I expect if, and only if, the book’s author and/or marketing has led me to believe that the plot would be about a particular thing.  Milan’s teaser for this book presented the idea that the book would focus on women in science and the main conflict would be about that.  I personally actually do find that conflict more interesting because it’s a rare conflict to have in a romance, but that doesn’t mean the discussion about sexuality isn’t well-done or important (hence, the fairly high grade).

  7. 7
    SB Sarah says:

    @Lynda: I get that you disagree with Carrie’s review, but to call her review invalid is harsh.

    Carrie explained all of the reasons behind the things that bothered her, and her account of the layers of dissonance she encountered made sense to me. If she expected a book focused on science and gender based on the description for the book and didn’t read a book that met her expectations, that’s totally a valid criticism, because the teaser IS about science and gender:

    Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

    Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.

    So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership…even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.

    Moreover, Carrie’s experience with the book is her own. It’s not like she rolled up and said, “I didn’t like it because I didn’t” and left no room for anyone to disagree with her. It’s pretty common for readers to disagree with the reviews, and many have already. 

    It’s not as if Carrie’s or anyone else’s word is the final say on the matter either. Jeez. If you disagree, that’s one thing, to call her review invalid? Uncool.


  8. 8
    Alina says:

    I didn’t like this one as much as the preceding one in the series. That one made me sob (not the central romance, the storyline about the hero’s aunt), but this one didn’t touch me as much on an emotional level. Like Carrie, I appreciate the scope of Violet’s trauma, but that alone wasn’t enough for me to connect to the book emotionally. I think it was in part that I didn’t really like Violet at all and by the time the root of her pain was revealed, I didn’t have it in me to care that much about her. It’s a shame because the interaction between Sebastian and Violet that teased the conflict in the preceding book and is repeated from another point of view to kick off this one grabbed me and made me really look forward to this one, but once I come to dislike either the hero or the heroine as a person, it brings down an otherwise excellent book for me.

  9. 9
    azteclady says:

    You owe Courtney Milan and your readers a review of this terrific book written by someone else.

    Not only not, but hells, no.

    Since when does a reader owes the author to get someone else to review a book, simply because the review pointed flaws from that reader’s point of view?

    it’s clear you find nothing to criticize with the book, which is fine and dandy, as you are as entitled to your own opinion as anyone else, but to come to someone else’s blog (in this case, SBSarah’s) and order one of her reviewers around? Rampant entitlement.

  10. 10
    Lora says:

    I read this over Christmas break after capital-L Loving “The Heiress Effect” (I’m lukewarm on The Duchess War because I didn’t connect with the heroine but ymmv).

    I liked The Countess Conspiracy and I had anticipated it since reading the teaser at the end of The Heiress Effect. My only quibbles with this book were:

    1. The science bit toward the end confused me (I feel quite dumb here and I had good marks in college biology) and was distracting.

    2.  Sebastian was a rake only if “rake” means “kissing Violet’s butt all the time and ignoring everyone else.” I liked Sebastian very much and was invested in their relationship but the repeated insistence that he had such a terrible reputation seemed forced.

    3.  I thought Sebastian’s brother was a total arrogant jerk and his change of heart at the end was too sudden.

    Now, what I loved, of which there was much:

    The writing. Oh how Courtney Milan’s writing is spectacular, smart and engaging! 
    The mom was, as this review mentioned, awesome.
    Violet had some severe trauma going on but it made sense that she was bitter and brittle and fearful after that. I never found her reaction to be incongruous with the impact of such abuse.
    Violet cuts out the feminist treatise and pastes it over the pages of a novel to give to her niece.
    The interplay of Violet and Sebastian in the greenhouse while she’s working and he anticipates what she needs next for her experiments. It was beautiful as a dance and so personal.

    I’d give it a B myself, but I have had an antihistamine so I may not be trustworthy.

  11. 11
    Brigid says:

    Okay, that’s it. I need to get on the Milan bandwagon. Yes, I know. I’m way late on this.

  12. 12
    Allie says:

    I loved this but I do agree that a few things didn’t track with the previous books (or book since I haven’t had a chance to read The Heiress Effect yet, just TDW).  But…I didn’t really care, I just ignored those discrepancies and enjoyed the hell out this.  It may be because the story of two people growing up together and falling in love is one of my favorite story lines.  Also, I love angst.  And also, I love a tortured heroine instead of a tortured hero.  And also also, Sebastian was pretty much perfect—my favorite heroes are the ones who are funny and kind. 

    And the c-plot with Sebastian’s brother felt really realistic to me and I ended up feeling sad for both of them and then happy when they had their rapprochement.

  13. 13
    Vasha says:

    I do indeed get what you’re saying about this not fitting very well with what we’ve seen in the rest of the series. However, if I try to think about it apart from them, I actually love the crazy level of angst which Milan writes very very well. My problem with it was quite other: let me quote what I wrote in an earlier thread (worded a bit strongly because I was somewhat pissed off by the disappointment I’d suffered) “I’d sum it up like this: there is such a thing as too much happy ending! In the first half of the book, Milan does a fine job of depicting two severely unhappy characters, and the bond they have with each other; it’s dark and compelling. But then she starts resolving problems, and just sweeps them out of the way. For example, Sebastian’s brother does a complete 180 after a single conversation. And as to the countess of the titular conspiracy, not only does she make an important scientific discovery in advance of the real world (that’s okay) not only is her discovery accepted by scientists (I’ll buy it), not only is she hailed as a celebrity by adoring crowds (just about passes), but she starts getting offers of employment from King’s College, Harvard, and much more? At that point I felt like the author had given up on making it believable; why not provide a triumphal parade on a flying horse? I always feel cheated when an author wraps up the story too prettily and especially when she pulls a happy ending out of a hat.”

  14. 14
    Gloria says:

    I did like this book, but it was definitely a bit weaker than The Duchess War and The Heiress Effect (on the other hand I was significantly less annoyed with Sebastian than I was with Oliver, so…)

    I think the science discovery at the end needed a lot more development earlier on—I spent that part frantically scanning my vague memory of Bio 201’s short history section trying to remember when the spoilerthingie was actually discovered and by who, and I think anyone whose college eduction in biology was longer ago than mine was might be completely lost. I realize that digging into the science of stuff might be more boring for some readers, but it was such a huge discovery and so vital to the resolution of the plot that I felt it needed more development. I also really wanted more development on the science and gender, and women in science front (as well as women in other professions, this was back in the day when a dentist’s wife or daughter was very often working alongside the dentist as a dental hygienist/assistant. It’s simply not true that women weren’t involved in the professions, but their roles were often invisible, and the same is true for science)

    That said, I did love Violet’s angst, she had such a lovely dark and complex character. I really loved her relationships with her mother, sister, and niece. And I especially loved her mother, Sebastian better watch out and not give her reason to protect her daughter! Ruthless women, especially if they are ruthless in protection of the people they loved, are wonderful. I have a real soft spot for them.

    Sebastian was significantly less rakey than I expected. If he’d acted the rake in the other books I think I could have excused him not acting that way in this book because I’d already seen it, but that hadn’t happened. I kind of get him being pretty much burned out on being the center of attention but he didn’t ever flirt with other women at all. That said I like him better than Oliver’s waffling. Robert was still the best hero in this series so far.

    Apparently Free is getting a book in 2014, I’m half-hoping that she turns out to be a lesbian. I think that would be awesome, especially since Milan writes female relationships really well. Maybe she could hook up with Violet’s niece! probably won’t happen but a gal can dream!

  15. 15
    SB Sarah says:

    Oh how Courtney Milan’s writing is spectacular, smart and engaging!

    It is so true. She is so freaking talented. I approach her books thinking, “Brain, get ready to throw down, ‘cause this will be fuuuuun.”

  16. 16
    Nessa says:

    4. And speaking of people I don’t recognize, I was totally shocked at how carelessly Oliver and Robert disregard Violet.  Since when have they been such jerks?  This led to a rather funny exchange in which Sebastian scolds them for being callous about Violet, and then Violet appears and makes the same speech about their treatment of Sebastian.  But still, who are these people?  Haven’t I just read all these other books about them in which they are great guys?

    This. My favourite parts of the previous Brothers Sinister books were the strong relationships between the friends. I loved Sebastien and Violet and Violet’s mother, but I thought this one would have double that camaraderie – given that both Violet and Sebastien were old friends with Robert and Oliver – and was really disappointed at how that played out.

    I do love friends to lovers stories though and that aspect was as awesome as I expected. Can’t wait for Free’s book!

  17. 17
    Kate says:

    I am jumping up and down agreeing with everything you said. I really, really wanted to love this book- everything in it is my personal catnip and I’ve been looking forward to it for months. I definitely enjoyed reading it, but that enjoyment was tempered by a nagging disquiet during the latter half that ended up with me finishing it dissatisfied. The character incongruities were the biggest deal to me- I also didn’t recognize even a glimmer of previous Violet in her portrayal here and the depiction of the lack of genuine friendship between Oliver/Robert/Sebastian/Violet was disturbing, given how the group had been written before. I’m also with Vasha on pulling the happy ending out of a hat- the whole end of the book just seemed rushed and underdeveloped. I do plan to reread at some point though and maybe my opinion will change. CM is a phenomenal writer and I can appreciate her storytelling even when I don’t particularly care for the story.

  18. 18
    leftcoaster says:

    Just to throw my two cents in here, I had no problem liking Violet, but I like complicated, intelligent, angst-ridden, funny, interesting women, which she was. Yeah, she wasn’t perfect, but I hate writing where it feels like the female has to be perfect to get a happy ending, so it’s a win for me.

    I also had no problem with Oliver and Robert being asshats to Violet. I think my experience reading about Robert was a little different, I remember him as being a well-meaning privileged guy who sometimes had no f*cking clue and did thoughtless things that caused a problem for other people he loved, so yeah, it seemed to fit ok. Plus, friends can be that way sometimes, and you throw the boys vs. girls thing in and it gets even more complicated.

    As for the science, I only got pulled out of the book once from thinking “wait, that’s not quite right” which is pretty good.

    What I didn’t like about the book was that the first half and last half didn’t quite match up. I appreciate the different challenges that Violet faced, and their historical accuracy, there was too much real in the first part for the HEA fairy dust that was liberally used in the second half. Maybe because I am a bitter mid-career female in science, but the happy ending stuff was over the top for me, I felt like it diluted the strength of the first half of the book. That being said, I am not at all sorry I read the book, and look forward to Ms. Milan’s further efforts.

  19. 19
    Ginger Rapport says:

    Hmmm… I hear you all…I guess that I am not quite sure what the fuss is about. When I read for pleasure I don’t feel compelled to analyze the details to the nth degree. I’m generally pretty easy to get along with, reading-wise, when it comes to minutiae. Frankly, I don’t care if the science is off a bit, what mattered to me was that Milan makes us think what it was like for intelligent, driven, capable women in a time when these traits were not necessarily valued. (Heck, these characteristics are often not valued in women even today.) Furthermore, she makes think about the men who find these women irresistible. Society is so rarely tolerant of people who don’t fit the mold, I find it inspiring when someone is willing to give the finger to narrow minded assholes and find a way to be true to themselves.

    I loved Violet, just as I loved Serena, Minnie and Jane. Milan made me feel their pain and cheer when they rose from the ashes. Damn, if there were women who deserved a happy ending, it was them. I can’t wait for Freddy to take her place beside them and demand to be counted.

  20. 20
    Jill Shultz says:

    I loved this book, despite its flaws. Yes, the HEA was over the top: Violet was accepted too easily and offered too many rewards. The response would have been unrealistic even in a contemporary story.

    There was a disconnect between the promised and delivered plot, partially because the subplot concerning Violet’s sexual trauma had so much emotional weight it challenged the main plot. Both stories were compelling, but they competed, with the latter diminishing the former.

    Also, Milan sidestepped the emotional consequences of their lie. I mean, gawd, if you’d just realized that your heart’s desire had caused so much trauma for your BFF, wouldn’t you feel like the vilest cad in all of Romancelandia? And stupid, for having misjudged your BFF so badly? And selfish, because you still wanted to pursue your dream? And angry at society?
    There was more than enough potential angst in that storyline.

    That said, however, I adored the scene in which Violet had her Eureka! moment. I believe many creative people, not just scientists, experience that compulsion and completely lose themselves in the pursuit of an idea. Here was Violet unveiled, showing all her intelligence and skill. No wonder her friends became completely swept up. Milan did an exquisite job of portraying the excitement of discovery. Afterwards, when Violet emerged from her altered state and realized that she’d just exposed herself, her mix of emotions was completely believable and equally compelling.

    There are so few romances that portray female scientists. This is the first one I read in which the character actually thought, spoke, and acted like a scientist. It’s well worth the read just for that.

  21. 21
    Cordy says:

    Does anyone recommend a particular “Starter Milan” book? I read “Unraveled” (the one with Smite Turner) and felt like I did not get it at all; then I tried “The Governess Affair” and found that to be kind of fine, but not gripping. Do I need to start at the beginning of a series, and if so, which one?

  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:


    I loved “The Governess Affair” and “Unlocked,” Milan’s other novella (which I called a “grovel-vella” in my review: ).

    I think to start, Unveiled would be good, which is book 1 of the Turner series. I think that book is where Milan got started creating the characters she’s known for now. Unveiled is one of my favorites of hers ( ).

    Anyone disagree?

  23. 23
    leftcoaster says:

    @Jill Shultz

    There are so few romances that portray female scientists. This is the first one I read in which the character actually thought, spoke, and acted like a scientist. It’s well worth the read just for that.

    Yes to that! I think I could love the book for this alone. It was a delight to see a scientist so deftly portrayed, especially after all the bitter Girl Least Likely to Marry left me with.


    Unraveled is one of her more painful books, at least to me, so I can see how that would be a tough one to start with. I think Sarah’s recommendation to start with Unveiled is a good one, but if The Governess Affair didn’t do it for you, I dunno, maybe Courtney Milan is just not your cup of tea? It’s one of my favorite things she wrote.

  24. 24
    Ginger Rapport says:


    I cast my vote for The Governess Affair as well. It is one of those books that you don’t realize you love as much as you do until you find yourself finishing the last page, only to wonder back to page one and start reading it again. It is also the beginning of the Brothers Sinister series which is convenient. I always prefer to read a series in order. I have read all of Courtney Milan’s books. While I have my favorites, I have never been disappointed with any of them.

  25. 25
    Cordy says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! I will try Unveiled – it wasn’t that I found Unraveled too grim, it was that I felt fundamentally lost in the universe, which is probably my own fault for not starting a series at the beginning!

  26. 26
    Phaenarete says:

    In the spirit of Carrie S’s review of this book, I’d just like to remind @Lynda that what many of us here love about the genre, and CM specifically, is her feminism—and it is never feminist to drag another female writer down for having a perhaps unpopular opinion—or to claim that she “owes” anyone anything at all. That is dangerous language.

    I’d also like to point out that it’s a pretty obvious literary device to use self deprecation and humor to soften the blow of said unpopular opinion—so if you don’t recognize this review for the cleverness it actually has, that might be your mistake. As a side note, I completely agreed with all of Carrie’s points, as I had exactly the same expectations going on in my head after that teaser was published.

    Also, can we talk here about IRONY. How interesting that we’re reading about a story in which the heroine has to hide her identity because, as a woman, her work would never be accepted by the public… annnnd Carrie S felt the need to couch her opinions in humor because she knew they might be unpopular too? It’s a common enough fact in psychological studies that women are still perceived to be unlikable for being assertive—and that women statistically use cultural parlance to deflect conflict far more often than men in myriad ways, from mitigating language to smiley emoticons. This book, and the yucky response to Carrie’s review, show how far we have to go.

    It’s called “Smart Bitches” for a reason. No apologies, Carrie S.

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