Review: The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Wednesday, September 18

Title:  The Heiress Effect*  
Author:  Courtney Milan
Series:  The Brothers Sinister, Book 2
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher: Courtney Milan
Format:  trade size paperbook, ebook      
Date/Year:  July 15, 2013      
Reviewed by: Blue

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

Miss Jane Fairfield has made a career of social disaster. She wears outrageous gowns and says even more outrageous things. The only reason she's invited anywhere is because of her immense dowry--which is all part of her plan to avoid marriage and keep the fortune-hunters at bay.

Mr. Oliver Marshall is the illegitimate son of a duke. His acceptance in society is tenuous as it is. If he wants any kind of career at all, he must do everything right. 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.

My Musings:

Oliver Marshall is a driven man.  He has grand ambitions of being Prime Minister one day.  For now, he is garnering support for voting reform laws.  To obtain this support, he has to pander to the same titled lords who made his life in school hell.  Oliver is the illegitimate son of a duke, and therefore not a true nobleman.  He craves power, and is willing to do what he has to in order to secure his future ambitions.

Jane Fairfield is a laughingstock, albeit, a wealthy one.  She has made herself into a character so ridiculous, no one will want to marry her, despite her being an heiress.  Her reason for this is that she is living in her uncle's house by agreement only until she receives a marriage proposal.  Her younger sister, Emily, who is still under her uncle's guardianship, has a condition similar to epilepsy.  Uncle Titus has hired quack doctor upon quack doctor, trying to heal her. In doing so, he has subjected her to what amounts to torture.  Jane is determined to remove Emily as soon as she becomes of age. So, to ensure she remains single, and in control of her own fortune, she dresses grossly, appears stupid, commits social errors, and insults all and sundry.

Oliver and Jane meet at an event held by Lord Bradenton, whose support Oliver needs to kick start his career ambitions.  Jane performs her usual act, but Oliver continues to be kind to her, knowing how it feels to be the outsider.  Jane feels some regret, because Oliver seems a genuinely nice man, but she can't let her guard down.  After she leaves, Bradenton (who greatly enjoys having Oliver under his thumb) lets Oliver know what he has to do in order to gain his support.  He wants to see Jane so humiliated that she will not show her face in public again.  He has his own reasons for this, which we find out later.  Oliver is so ambitious, that he considers this.  He still hasn't made up his mind whether or not accept Bradenton's task.  He arranges to meet Jane on several occasions, and continues to be pleasant to her.  Eventually, they develop a friendship.  More surprisingly, he eventually tells Jane what he has been requested to do, and that he hasn't decided yet whether to do it.  Jane blatantly says she would never marry him, and in turn, he says she is not the kind of woman he needs for a wife to further his career.

The two continue to meet, and we see Jane begin to let her guard down and tell Oliver why she acts the way she does.  He is growing fond of her and has no desire to hurt her, but he still needs Bradenton's help.  He battles with himself about what he should do..  As they fall in love, their situation becomes more impossible.

Courtney Milan doesn't  write your typical romance.  Jane is prepared to give up any chance she has of future happiness for her sister.  Not only is she putting aside hope for having her own family, but she is an intelligent woman, and has made herself into an object of ridicule and scorn.  Oliver is a good man, who wants to make good changes.  Yet, he is a part of two worlds, but feels accepted in neither.  This, and his mistreatment while in school fuels his anger and desire for power.  Here are two strong people who don't seem to have a chance of happiness.  You can't help but admire their strength and their character, and wonder how it will be possible for them to be together.

I adored this book and recommend it highly.  Courtney Milan has become a favorite author.  She writes romances that touch your heart without insulting your intelligence.  I also recommend the novella, "The Governess Affair" which tells the story of Oliver's mother, and how he came to be.


Overall:  5 Stars (This is one I will read again and savor.)
Sensuality level:  3

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