Romance Book Review: Her Countess to Cherish by Jane Walsh

Romance Book Review

Title
Her Countess to Cherish
Author
Jane Walsh
Publication Date: Aug 10, 2021
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Genres: Romance
Shelves: Lesbian, Non-Binary

Her Countess to Cherish is a slow-burn regency romance about Miss Beatrice Everson, a woman who married for money and now finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, and Lady Georgina / Mr. George Smith, a genderfluid bluestocking who lives for passion and purpose. They're an odd mix, and their romance takes nearly half the book to develop into even a kiss, but the way in which Jane Walsh so tactfully and respectfully explores a love triangle between two people is well worth the read.

To be completely honest, Beatrice rubbed me the wrong way from the very first page. I didn't like her, I didn't respect her, and I didn't particularly care what happened to her. I found her to be somewhat cold and callous, and while she's not necessarily selfish (she did, after all, marry a man she despises to save her father from his gambling debts), she is most certainly manipulative and self-serving. The first few times they meet, Georgina/George is more annoyed by than attracted to the newly married houseguest, and it's only because I adored them that I was willing to trust their instincts and welcome Beatrice into their heart.

Once I began reading this as a story of redemption rather than romance, accepting that we were supposed to find Beatrice rather sour at first, so that we could better appreciate her becoming sweet later, I found I warmed up to the story. There are a lot of ways this could have gone wrong, especially with the portrayal of Georgina/George, but I loved that Walsh allowed them to be both man and woman, someone happily slipping from one role or persona to the other, and that made the second half of the story succeed despite the odd pacing and rushed finale.

The supporting cast here is strong, particularly in the form of Lady Honora and Miss Jacqueline, whose wonderful relationship has me eager to go back and catch up with Her Lady to Love. Despite a rocky start with Beatrice and my initial uncertainty as to whether I wanted to keep reading, Her Countess to Cherish is worth reading for Georgina/George alone, with their nonbinary representation pairing quite nicely with the bluestocking theme of women's social and educational movement, which embraces all of the characters in one way or another.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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