My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
My initial reaction right after I finished: Aw, why is this so short? :( I was just getting into the warm fuzzy-ness of the story... *sniffs*
I’ve been a fan of Emily Larkin ever since I read The Spinster's Secret. It was SO GOOD and I adored the heroine Maddie so much (hell, if she was real and I was a lesbian, I’d marry her!) that I’ve been eagerly waiting for another installment from Ms. Larkin.
Even though The Countess's Groom can be read as a standalone, you can find Rose being mentioned in The Spinster's Secre. Maddie found Rose’s diary which was still hidden inside he cubbyhole, which plays quite the role in her becoming a writer. I didn’t expect that Rose and her groom, Fenmore will have own their story told. And even though I wasn’t sure about what to think of them in the beginning, as more of Rose’s writing was shared through Maddie, the more it was clear that she was in love with Fenmore. He was her escape from a horrible marriage. Just how horrible, a glimpse of that we see in this novella.
Rose was nothing sort of sold to Henry Quayle, the Earl of Malmstoke, by her father as a payment for his gambling debts. She had no say in this marriage and after 8 months, she’s suffocating in it. Henry is a nasty, abusive little man who takes out his rage on his young wife. Rose wants to escape but she’s too scared and cowed in this prison of a marriage... and life. Thankfully, Henry doesn’t stay with her but sails to West Indies for long periods of time.
The only person who has been secretly shares Rose’s misery is her personal groom, Fenmore or Will. Rose doesn’t know that he has been in love with her ever since she arrived into the bleak looking Creed Hall as a bride. Will knows it’s foolish but he can’t help it. From the servant gossips, he’s already aware of the Earl’s treatment of his wife. It makes Will angrier that he can’t do anything to stop it.
After the Earl left though, Will becomes determined to help Rose in any way to escape this prison. It took several short jaunts into the woods and picnicking, when Will and Rose finally were able to overcome the awkwardness of their unequal social status. Not that it ever really mattered. When she really saw Will and talked to him, Rose knew instinctively that he’s a good man. And after experiencing Henry’s cruelty firsthand, it didn’t take her much time to appreciate Will for who he is and fall in love with him. A man she would’ve married if fate didn’t play its part. Soon, Rose begins to write down her thoughts and times spend with Will in a diary, which she secreted away in a cubbyhole.
It was superb to read about Will. He was so good and SO eager to do anything in his ability to help Rose get away. And to show her that making love doesn’t have to be humiliating and miserable. He was young himself, only 24 to Rose’s 19 yet his views of life were positive and quite mature.
As Will and Rose finally make a plan for escape; a plan that was riddle with danger, mostly of Henry finding out about it through his minions at the house, I begin to appreciate their new-found feeling for each-other more and more. They knew that the revelation of their plan might lead them even to their deaths! Even then, they trusted each-other enough to take chances, or at the least, to try.
Rose gives Will her precious rubies, inherited from her mother’s family, to sell them so that they can buy a passage to America and then, a small farm there. Rose had no big dream and no regret about becoming Will’s wife as soon as they reach there. But the story ends just when they make their escape from Creed Hall. I didn’t want the story to finish so early! I wanted a couple of more chapters about their life together in America, to see how they were doing. It would’ve tied things up rather nicely IMO. 4 stars.
PS: Henry gets his comeuppance soon after. For me it was more in the lines of ‘Good Riddance!’.
This ARC was provided to me by Entangle Publishing LLC/Entangle Flirt via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.