The Countess Game

A Historical Romance Set During the Jacobite Rebellion

Romance - Historical
283 Pages
Reviewed on 09/25/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Miche Arendse for Readers' Favorite

The Countess Game by Deborah Cay Wilding follows the tale of Elizabeth Hartwell, a young woman who, under suspicion of being against the crown due to her cousin, is evicted from court and forced to flee with her aunt. She finds herself in the company and under the protection of Ashton Wentworth, the Earl of Haverdale, who seeks to restore his family's name and honor. But with the current political climate and with their equally complicated situation, things only become more twisted when Elizabeth and Ashton find themselves drawn to one another.

The Countess Game by Deborah Cay Wilding was a fun and amusing read, filled with drama and intensity. We are quickly introduced to the main characters in the first few chapters of the book while the setting for the plot is laid out. I instantly knew by the end of the first chapter that this was going to be a book that I would thoroughly enjoy and I did. I found all the interactions between Elizabeth and Ashton to be amusing, considering there would always be a bit of humor and wit thrown in no matter the dire circumstances. Both the main characters are strong-willed and have something to fight against or fight for within the plot and watching them fall in love despite the odds was such a pleasure. The pacing of the story was so well done and really allowed you to become immersed in the events. The Countess Game is a book that any lover of historical romance will love and I would definitely recommend giving it a read.

Manik Chaturmutha

Set amidst the Jacobite Rebellions in 18th-century England, The Countess Game by Deborah Cay Wilding revolves around the story of Elizabeth Hartwell, a young noble exiled from the Royal Court for being the cousin of The Pretender, James Stuart, who threatens to seize the throne from King George. With Elizabeth's desire to study medicine like her father shattered, with no prospects nor guarantee of safety, she accepts the refuge of Ashton Wentworth, the enigmatic Earl of Harverdale. Returned from exile, he desires to restore his family's name and fortune and has pledged his loyalty to the Crown. Elizabeth has no reason to maintain relations with him. However, things do not go as planned, as Ashton proves to be more intriguing and provoking than she had imagined, not to mention incredibly good-looking. When these two clash, sparks are bound to ignite. Yet, with political tensions rising and rumors of rebellion spreading, Elizabeth finds herself immersed in a whirlwind of romance, danger, and suspense.

The Countess Game by Deborah Cay Wilding is undoubtedly a perfect example of an engaging historical romance. Set in England in the 1700s, this novel is an exciting take on real historical moments. What set this novel apart was the amount of research in its story building. The Jacobite rebellions, namely the one set as the backdrop of the plot, The Battle of Preston, are not historical events that come easy to the layman. Wilding does justice to the plot and the era with her straightforward narration and storyline, mixed with memorable and fresh, unconventional characters. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a good romance novel set during the age of ball gowns and royalty? Overall, Wilding brings to life an unfamiliar event and gives readers a glimpse of 18th-century England. Locations, names, and society stay true to their history, and the author ensures these boundaries are respected. This unique addition to the genre makes a familiar trope far more enjoyable. Readers who enjoy installments such as the 'Selection Series' or enjoy genres such as historical fiction, drama, and romance will find this novel appealing.

Stephanie Chapman

Deborah Cay Wilding’s The Countess Game is the story of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hartwell, broken into three parts. In Events Great and Small, Lizzy joins her Aunt Maude, who is traveling to the Earl of Haverdale’s home. One evening, the Earl returns home with a bullet wound. Ashton has to deliver a letter to General Forestor, who is leading the army. He marries Lizzy to make her a countess. In the second part, When All Else Fails, Lizzy and Ashton are in Preston, a small town that has become a battleground. Lizzy has promised Ashton’s sister she will bring her paramour, George, home. In If The End Is About To Begin, Lizzy separates from Ashton as she races toward Holliston Castle with a wounded George. She returns to find her husband suffering a severe fever from an infection. She must turn to a band of gypsies for help.

Deborah Cay Wilding uses Lizzy’s apothecary skills to prove her need to be useful. Lizzy’s past instilled in her a refusal to harm anyone. Despite the battle occurring outside, she shows her indomitable spirit while aiding wounded soldiers. Lord Ashton is an interesting character filled with wit, and his loyalty to his people is admirable. The vivid details encompassing the surroundings made the intense danger easy to envision. It provided a full depiction of Lizzy’s various herbal remedies as she applied them. Wilding gave each of the supporting characters distinct personalities and attributes. Lizzy’s perspective provides a realistic view, and I enjoyed the witty discussions she engages in with Ashton. Likewise, her introverted manners fall away when she takes charge of her circumstances. The plot is full of unexpected twists, and the end is bittersweet. I recommend The Countess Game to readers who enjoy historical fiction stories featuring a strong heroine.