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Monday, July 22, 2013

REVIEW: "The Heiress Effect" by Courtney Milan


The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2)
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan
(Brothers Sinister #2)

Goodreads -- Amazon 
Author Website

For Ages 18+
Historical Romance -- Victorian
Self-Published -- July 15, 2013
Ebook, 315 pages
Received from Netgalley

THEMES
Opposites Attract

SUMMARY
Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.  And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

FIRST LINE
Most of the numbers that Miss Jane Victoria Fairfield had encountered in her life had proven harmless.

MY THOUGHTS
I feel like a broken record every time I write a review for a Courtney Milan book because there is something about her writing that grabs me from the very beginning and doesn't let me go until the end.  I was particularly excited to read The Heiress Effect because the hero is the son of Serena and Hugo from The Governess Affair, one of my favorite romances ever!  And Ms. Milan met and exceeded all of my expectations with this book.  It had everything that I've come to expect from her such as well-developed characters, thought-provoking plots, and plenty of swoon-worthy romance.

Oliver Marshall is the hero of this book and is the illegitimate son of a duke.  While Oliver was adored by his parents though not his birth father, his time in school quickly taught him that life would be difficult for him.  His treatment at the hands of the other students and even the professors taught him how to blend into the background while biding his time to pursue his own ambitions.  This comes in handy since Oliver's main goal is to gain a seat in the House of Commons and continue his efforts to reform voting requirements.

Jane Fairfield is known as the Feather Heiress in Cambridge society due to the fact that her personality is considered to be like being beat to death with feathers to anyone who comes in contact with her.  She is the illegitimate daughter of a mystery man who left her an extensive bank account, but, despite her wealth, she is determined not to marry.  The reason for this is that her sister has health issues and Jane doesn't want to be separated from her.  So, in order to avoid marriage, Jane has decided to embrace the Feather Heiress character and strives to be as outlandish and gaudy as she can be.

These two meet at a social gathering by the pompous and politically powerful Marquess of Bradenton where Oliver is trying to gain support for a voting reform bill while Jane is just trying to get through the next year or so before her sister reaches her majority.  I thought these two were amazingly complex characters who were in similar situations, but had different reactions.  Despite their differences, they truly understand one another from the moment they meet and it is easy to see how they could become friends.  Milan does an amazing job of showing the development of Jane and Oliver's relationship from acquaintances to friends to eventually lovers.  And it is done in such an organic way that it never feels rushed or contrived. 

Readers also get a sweet secondary romance in The Heiress Effect that involves Jane's sister, Emily.  Emily Fairfield is a sweet girl with a convulsion condition that has convinced her uncle that she is weak and unsuited for any strenuous activity.  She is forced to endure a multitude of "medical" experiments which just gave me the chills.  Her hero ends up being an Indian law student who she meets after sneaking away from her house for the day.  I love side romances because they help provide balance for the main story line and this one was adorable.  Anjan and Emily were perfect for each other and I particularly enjoyed the respect that they showed one another despite their social differences.

Like with most of her romances, Courtney Milan is not afraid to push boundaries when it comes to plot.  She spends a decent amount of time providing background on the voting reform issue in England, but writes so well that it never seems like you are reading a history textbook.  I was also interested to see the appearance of Oliver's youngest sister, Frederica, a budding suffragist who I hope will be getting her own story in the future.  All of these elements help provide a well-developed setting for Oliver and Jane's romance and makes the reader feel like they are in the streets with them.

There is so much more I would like to gush about with this book like the situation of Oliver's evolutionist friend Sebastian, the heartbreaking story of Oliver's maternal aunt, and even the way that Serena and Hugo are depicted by their son.  But, I wanted to leave some of these great side plots for readers to discover on their own.  Courtney Milan is truly an impressive writer who is definitely not afraid to go beyond what is considered normal in historical romance and I look forward to whatever she writes next.

**I received a free e-copy of this book from the author through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


5 STARS

FAVORITE QUOTE
"Jane, you are not a blight.  You are not a disease.  You are not a pestilence or a poison.  You're a beautiful, brilliant, bold woman, the best I have ever met.  I should never have implied that you were lacking.  The fault was in me.  I didn't think I was strong enough to stand at your side."

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
0.5. The Governess Affair
1. The Duchess War
1.5. A Kiss for Midwinter
2. The Heiress Effect
3. The Countess Conspiracy (Coming 2013)
4. The Mistress Rebellion (Coming 2014)

2 comments:

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  2. It sounds fantastic. I love when there's a really nicely done secondary romance as well. It does add a nice element to the story :) Thanks for the heads up on this one!

    ~Anna
    herding cats & burning soup

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