Publication Date: 2007 (Paperback)
Of Note: YA Historical Fiction Challenge Book #1
After the Russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young Russian countess, has no choice but to flee to England. penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination. Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to Rupert, the handsome earl of Westerholme. to make matters worse, Rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of Rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancée. . . .
I'm a sucker for any book that involves fancy estates and everything that goes along with them. This book appealed to me because Anna was once a countess and now finds herself in service. Anna is a lovely main character, but I found her a bit unrealistic. She's so sweet and everyone loves her, and therefore I also found her a bit boring.
Also, I felt the romance wasn't really a romance. I get that romance in historical fiction isn't what you'd see in contemporary fiction, but Rupert and Anna had a few conversations and they're in love? Eh? Muriel, Rupert's fiancee, is a right villain who basically tricked Rupert into marriage. If that wasn't bad enough, she is obsessed with the idea of eugenics. She's truly horrible, but not in a calculating way, not in a way that you usually see in historical fiction, so that was a nice surprise. I was expecting her to be a catty cow, and she is, but her methods are far more calculating than that.
Overall, I don't regret reading A Countess Below Stairs, but it wasn't the most memorable historical I've read.