Courting the Countess by Jenny Frame is a contemporary romance. Professor of Archeology Henrietta “Harry” Knight becomes Countess of Axedale upon her father’s death and takes a sabbatical from Cambridge University to begin refurbishing the long-neglected and run-down Axedale Hall. The child of a loveless marriage, witness to her father’s infidelities and her mother’s pain, Harry has no intention of ever falling in love. Annie Brannigan is a survivor, remaining positive through hardships. As an agency housekeeper, she moves from post to post with her daughter Riley, taking care of people who have everything she will never have. Annie’s greatest wish is to find her happy ever after. Can love restore the countess’s heart and the crumbling Axedale Hall, or will the first foundations of love turn to dust?
Courting the Countess is a realistic, contemporary romance novel. I will admit that it took me a bit to get into the story, and to decide that it was contemporary. The use of Countess and the responsibilities of such a role in modern times was unusual for me. I liked the character building and thought Harry was a well defined, fairly realistic character. I really loved Anne's character- and the tension between the two. I did enjoy the relationship that grew between Harry and Anne's daughter, and felt like that was one of the things that helped Harry the most, and was just solid story writing. I think there was a lot more build up than there was actual movement in the relationship between Harry and Anne, and I know that most of it was necessary to impart the growth that Harry had to make and to reveal the unhappy past for Anne, but there were moments where I just wanted to hit fast forward and get to a confrontation, realization, or conversation that would significantly move things along. It did happen, it just took longer than I wanted. Some of this was my own impatience rather than somethi9ng wrong with the book- it just was not the kind of read I was looking for at the moment. It all came together well, but it was just a little slower paced than I was looking for. However, I can think of many readers that would absolutely love the story and writing style.
Courting the Countess is a solid story, with well defined characters and an interesting premise. My main complaint is that there was more of the characters worrying to them selves and other people talking about them than there was actual conflict or action between them. However, the characters were portrayed realistically, which can atone for many faults.