I dawdled through A Countess Below Stairs, finally listening to the last half hour late last night. The evil fiancee is routed by the servants, who convince her that the Earl of Westerholme has "defectives" in his family tree. The eponymous Russian countess' family jewels are returned to her -- through a series of somewhat preposterous events -- so she can save the Westerholme estate and marry her true love. I hope I haven't given anything away. This is the second of Eva Ibbotson's "teen" romances that I've encountered (the other being A Company of Swans); I actually think her little girl romances (Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan) are better. Of course, the latter are more recent, and maybe she's just become a better writer with experience.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this story. But, I don't think I'm going to nominate it, just because the story is so ordinary, old-fashioned even. It certainly is a nice, safe romance; the story is well told by the narrator -- with a somewhat sprawling cast of characters easy to keep track of. But there's something kind of tired about the whole thing -- no new ground was explored either in the story or in the audio version.
On the other hand, all six copies of the audiobook and 18 copies of the book are checked out, so she's clearly filling some need.
Finally, Recorded Books has done it again: the audiobook cover depicts a child, not an older teen who's old enough to fall in love. Here's the cover of the reissued paperback (which doesn't look right either), I couldn't find a copy of the cover of the audiobook (even Recorded Books uses the paperback cover). What's up with that?