Courting The Countess by Jenny Frame is an adorable romance that I have listened to over and over again. The story is about Henrietta “Harry” Knight and Annie Brannigan. Harry loves her job as a professor of Archeology at Cambridge University and when her father dies and she becomes Countess of Axedale she is pulled away from her beloved career to fulfil a promise she made to her grandfather. The promise was that she would restore Axedale Hall to its former state of glory.
Harry is in need of a housekeeper to help her manage the house while she is overseeing the renovations on the property. Enter Annie, housekeeper extraordinaire and mother to Riley a sweet, curious, girl who is utterly fascinated by history.
Harry doesn’t believe in true love. She saw her mother destroyed by her father’s cruelty and feels a deep sense of abandonment because her mother left when she was a little girl.
Annie wants to find a forever home for her and Riley. She wants a place to call her own so that she doesn’t have to keep dragging her daughter from post to post.
The question is, will Harry and Annie be able to put their own fears and histories aside to see what is really between them?
Harry starts out as a really mean character. She is upset that Annie has a child and is convinced that Riley will do unspeakable damage to the historic artifacts in the house. Over the course of the book we see her taking Riley under her wing and ultimate growing as a person. It’s such a beautiful character transformation and I loved every second of it.
Annie is a beautiful, kind, feisty but gentle femme. Boy, do I love Jenny Frame’s butch/femme dynamic she gets it so right for a romance. I also love Annie’s interactions with the villagers and how she plots to make Harry more social.
Frame has a lovely couple of side characters in the vicar and the farmer. Hopefully they will both end up with their own romance novels, making me a very happy girl.
The Writing Style
I love Frame’s romances. They are well paced, filled with beautiful character moments and a wonderful set of side characters who ultimately end up winning your heart.
The books are uncomplicated to read or, in my case listen to, and it makes for utterly enjoyable escapism.
Nicola Victoria Vincent narrates this one and I loved her range of accents and voices. Her pacing was great and before we were too far along I was swept up in the story and reluctant to stop listening.
I loved this book. It is by far one of my favourite audiobooks.
The only con is that it was over too soon. So I had to listen to it another couple of times to draw out the experience.
You absolutely need to listen to this one especially if you enjoy rich girl/poor girl romances, single mom, small town, butch/femme and angsty love. It is my favorite of Frame’s books to date and I highly recommend it.
Excerpt from Courting The Countess by Jenny Frame
The builder crossed her arms and looked at her with hard, steady grey eyes. “I am Henrietta Right, Countess of Axedale, but I prefer to be called Harry.”
Annie’s stomach fell to her toes. She closed her eyes and prayed that when she opened them again, Lady Axedale-Harry?-would be gone, and she hadn’t really smashed face first into her new employer.
She opened them and, sure enough, there was the countess. “Do excuse me, my lady. I had no idea who you were. I…”
How could she have been expected to spot a countess dressed up as a good-looking butch in worn jeans, muddy work boots, and baseball cap? It wan’t fair at all.
As her words died in her mouth, she felt Riley sneak to her side. I was going to get my apron out of my bag. It is a bit dusty in there.”
“You’ll have no need of it as you won’t be staying,” Harry said harshly.
“What do you mean? The agency-“
“I asked your agency for a live-in housekeeper, not a family. If you’ll just get your things together and ready to leave, I’ll telephone your agency to ask for a replacement, and I’m sure they’ll give you another assignment.”
Annie was shocked. She’d worked for some bad-tempered, surly clients, but no one had ever had this reaction to her and Riley before.
“It’s Harry. I already told you.”
Annie was getting angry now. “There’s no need for rudeness, Harry. My daughter is ten years old and is no bother to anyone. She can sleep in my room if you can’t spare another.”
“It is not a question of space. We have many and precious artefacts and antiques around Axedale Hall. It is not the place for a child. I’m sure your agency will find you a more suitable post. You may stay here until I contact them.”
“Please?” Annie called after her.
But the countess didn’t turn around.
“Mum? What are we going to do?” She doesn’t want us here. I’ve left my old school and everything. Tell her I won’t touch anything. I promise.”
Annie held her daughter tight and kissed her softly on the head. “Don’t worry. I’ll sort it out. I always do.”
This was not her usual reception. As one of the most sought after housekeepers on the agency’s books, her employers were usually happy to retain her services. If she and Riley stayed, the Countess of Axedale was going to be a difficult woman to subdue.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626397859
- Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Audible
- Narrator: Nicola Victoria Vincent
Jenny Frame Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Courting The Countess by Jenny Frame. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.