Emotionally turbulent M/F romance in 1867 England between two characters who are trying to hide in plain sight. Jane Fairfield is an heiress who can't get married without leaving her younger sister unprotected, so she pretends to be absolutely horrible hoping that no one will ask her. Oliver Marshall, the bastard son of a duke, has chameleon-ed his way into the social circle of nobility, hoping to make a career in politics so he can push reforms to benefit common people. They are wildly drawn to each other... but having Jane as a wife would wreck Oliver's career, and marrying would put Jane's sister at risk.
What struck me the most about this book: Milan's passionate engagement with political and social themes; the pain of knowing that someone exists who really understands you, and not being able to be close to them; the resilience of women; the respectful depiction of the true diversity of England at that time. Tremendously well-written, made my heart ache in a good way, and I especially liked the secondary romance between Jane's sister, who has epilepsy, and an Indian immigrant lawyer. They are both adorable.
Love, love, love. It's like biting into rich, dark chocolate, and then finding that the inside is full of sweet caramel perfection. And then seeing that there's a whole box just for you and you get to eat it all without one calorie passing through your lips. The only thing I didn't like was that the book had to come to an end.
My favorite line: "Yes," he finally said. "I do things with stuff. How ever did you know?"
Can't wait to read the next book in this series.
Be prepared to meet one of the most interesting heroines in historical romance: Miss Jane Fairfield. A wealthy heiress, Jane is determined to remain unmarried until her younger sister comes of age, in order to protect her from the matchmaking their overbearing and misguided uncle. She has decided to do so by being as outrageous and unappealing as possible -- and ends up the subject of a wager between Oliver Marshall, the bastard son of a duke with political ambitions, and the marquess that can help make those ambitions a reality. Watching Jane and Oliver struggle against falling in love, and having to make difficult choices to protect what is dear, is an absolute pleasure.
Milan takes many familiar romance tropes -- the overbearing guardian, the woman of means who wishes to remain unmarried, the man who finds it difficult to choose between love and success -- and turns them promptly on their head, delivering a romance that is both fun, frothy, and fast-paced as well as heartbreaking. While all romance readers know the main characters will end up together at the end, the satisfaction that comes with the consummation of the pairing in this novel is truly delicious.
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