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Brothers Sinister #2

The Heiress Effect

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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.

280 pages, ebook

First published July 15, 2013

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About the author

Courtney Milan

66 books5,170 followers
Courtney Milan writes books about carriages, corsets, and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller.

Courtney pens a weekly newsletter about tea, books, and basically anything and everything else. Sign up for it here: https://bit.ly/CourtneysTea

Before she started writing romance, Courtney got a graduate degree in theoretical physical chemistry from UC Berkeley. After that, just to shake things up, she went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude. Then she did a handful of clerkships. She was a law professor for a while. She now writes full-time.

Courtney is represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,575 reviews
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,459 followers
April 15, 2018
There are a lot of wonderful reviews for this book.

There’s a reason.

A while back I wrote a review for a different historical romance that was pretty much a how-to for writers wanting to break into the game. Courtney Milan’s reaction to it would probably be something like this:

I’ve read…a lot of HRs. What can I say? It’s my go-to genre for rainy days. Whenever I’m feeling blue or have had a shitty week at work I know I can pick one up and have my frown turned upside down by witty banter, silly miscommunications, some steamy sex and a HEA.

As much as I love these books, I can’t read them one after another because there are so many recurring themes and overused tropes that they all start to blend together until I can’t remember if it was the Duke with the shadowed past that had been the one to sweep the virginal Mary Sue off her feet and make her forget about her qualms concerning premarital sex…or if it had been the Earl.

I was beginning to think that I’d never come across a book that would stand out from the rest of the pack in almost every single way. And then Courtney Milan pulled up outside my house and said

Ignoring everything I've ever learned about stranger danger, I got in. And I’m so, so happy I did. This book was decidedly free of the tropes you’d expect from an HR. Not only that, but it tackled tough issues like labor rights and racism and medical malpractice. I know what you’re thinking; the front door, shut it. Well it’s shutted.

I really can’t say enough about The Heiress Effect or how much I enjoyed reading about a female from this time period that knew what she wanted and wasn’t willing to dim her brilliance for the sake of a man. Nor can I say enough about how brilliantly this all came together in the end.

To be honest, this book felt more like historical fiction than romance and that was largely due to the prevalence of the period accurate issues addressed within it. But really, HR, HF, who cares? The book is good peeps, go read it.

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Profile Image for Jill.
600 reviews1,375 followers
September 22, 2014

4.5 stars

Miss Jane Fairfield is a loud, over-talkative social misfit. Her gowns are unfashionable, hideous creations. Despite her fortune, and her plump yet pleasant looks, she is considered a joke no man would seriously consider marrying. She is an object of ridicule. And she wants it that way. If Jane can remain unmarried, she can stay with her sister and protect her from their guardian, their uncle.

Mr Oliver Marshall knows what it means to be shunned. A duke's bastard, Oliver has been caught between two worlds, that of the upper classes of his brother and his biological father, and the working class of his parents. His hunger and ambition for power to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on him and his family, is put to the test.

Will he do the bidding of the Marquess of Bradenton and gain his favour in his political aspirations? Or will he sacrifice all that he has worked for and protect the honour of Jane Fairfield?

Oliver is the child of Serena Barton from The Governess Affair, and raised by his stepfather, Hugo Marshall. He wants to do the right thing by Jane but is tempted to humiliate and betray her. Oliver isn't purely good. And neither is Jane's uncle purely bad. He could so easily been cast as a caricature, the evil uncle who mistreats and abuses his nieces. These types of complex, nuanced characterisations are what makes Ms Milan's work a cut above.

Courtney Milan doesn't write the expected. Her writing is intelligent. She has once again combined a story rich in historical detail with a clever, deep plot, a slowly building romance, and some wonderfully humorous scenes. My favourite: when Jane (deliberately) gets Oliver's name wrong calling him Mr Cromwell.

This is not a story that oozes sex with gratuitous scenes planted strategically along the way to titillate readers. But rather a gradual falling-in-love of two people that grows from friendship and respect.

Another stunning, layered story from one of the very best writers of historical romance.

Steam: 2

ARC courtesy of Courtney Milan via NetGalley

July 18, 2013
Actual rating: 4.5

Recommended for HR fans who want to read about believable, flawed, mature characters. There is no pettiness here, there are no fits, no tantrums, no spitefulness, no determination to avoid a relationship for the sake of not wanting a commitment and a fear of love. Courtney Milan always writes exceptional characters, and this book follows that very satisfying formula. Unlike the first book in this series, I found the characters to be interesting, the plot, while partially politically-oriented, to be far more tolerable. Overall, a very good book with wonderfully sympathetic characters.

*One note of complaint. Can we have an accurate cover once in awhile? None of this generic pretty-girl-in-a-pretty-dress shit. The heroine is unapologetically fat, with a 37-inch waistline. She prefers disgustingly bright, garish clothing, deliberately so. I understand not wanting our heroine to wear a yellow-and-purple polka-dotted and lined with plaid, underscored with 3 different types of lace on the cover but at least let her look like she's remotely plump, pretty please?

Miss Jane Fairfield is an heiress worth 100,000 pounds. There's just one thing keeping her from making a very advantageous marriage, herself. She deliberately dresses in atrocious fashions, befriend the wrong sort of backhanded, bitchy women who will compliment her to her face and laugh at her behind her back. She deliberately makes outrageous and fluffy conversation. She is, without a doubt, the joke of the Ton. She likes it that way. Jane is not looking for marriage, she is counting. Counting every single day until her half sister Emily comes of age so that they can move out together and be free of their stuffy, backwards, controlling guardian. And her plan is working fantastically, despite her ridiculously large dowry, she cannot get a husband. The gentlemen of the town avoid her at all cost, to them, she is the "Feather Heiress."

"'Imagine someone starts beating you with a feather. Imagine that they never stop, until one day, the constant annoyance of goose feathers pushes you over the edge. In a fury you strangle the person who has been beating you. Then you hang for murder. You, my friend, have been beaten to death by feathers.'
Oliver snorted. 'Nobody is that bad.'
Whitting put his hand to his head and rubbed at the furrows on his brow. 'She's worse.'"

Mr. Oliver Marshall is as straight-laced as they come. He wasn't always so. He was born the bastard son of a duke, and it has been ingrained in him that he is always unworthy, always lower, always worth less than his entitled and titled peers. He seeks a political career, he wants to change--if not the world--then at least some of its policies. Oliver needs to be respected, to be admired. He does not need someone like Jane. He does not want her money, for with it will come along the rumor that he married her only for her money. He does not need Jane herself, because of her intention of making herself an unmarriageable laughingstock.

Oliver is such a flawed character. No, there's none of the tortured soul, of the I will never fall in love because I am worthy of no one stock. His anger comes from within. He may disguise it well in public, but internally he rages against the injustice of the social order into which he was born, and into which he has been dismissed, because of what he could not control---his status as a duke's bastard. His political status has been hard-fought, as he grits his teeth and bows down to the peers who mock him in the upper echelons of society. Oliver outwardly bends to their will, inwardly he seeks revenge.

He first meets Jane and attracts her attention due to his kindness, due to his perspicacity in seeing through her disguise; his unwonted kindness towards her shakes Jane's resolve.

"'You,' he said, with a small gesture of his hand, 'are an anti-chameleon.'
'I am an ant-eating what?'
'An anti-chameleon. The opposite of a chameleon,' he explained. 'You change your colors, yes. But when you are in sand, you fashion yourself a bright blue so that the sand knows you are not a part of it. When you are in water, you turn red so that everyone knows you are not liquid. Instead of blending in, you change so that you stand out.'"

They learn from each other, they draw strength from each other. They help each other conquer and break the mold that society sees of them. They have an undeniable attraction and love for each other, but there are barriers that seems insurmountable. Namely, her need to protect her sister, and his political aspirations. She cannot leave her ill sister to their guardian, and he needs a proper wife. The proper wife fits into a mold, and as much as Oliver loves Jane, he realizes that it would be selfish to force her into that mold.

"'You saw what they were like tonight. The women who marry politicians. Part of me wants to ask you to become one of them, but how could I? Ask you to mute the best of you? To make yourself into a drab little wren, when you’ve become a phoenix? I could never forgive myself if I asked you to extinguish your fire.'"

Do I really need to tell you how this book ends? It's not so predictable, is it? The journey of how they got there is so enjoyable, and despite the lack of a major, compelling plotline, this book was just so enjoyable because of the characters and how they developed. This was such a sweet, lovely story, and Oliver is a dream.

Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,227 followers
March 22, 2017
The heroine in this book is the kind of girl that you want to know. She has 100,000 pounds as her dowry, but doesn't want to marry. She turns herself into the craziest, most unfashionable woman there is in order to make the men simply turn and run when they see her coming. They dubbed her the "feather heiress" although she should be more of the laced heiress or beaded heiress. She brings tears to the eyes of anyone with decent taste when she enters a room.

Some descriptions of her clothing:
It was a furious shade of pink, one that nature had never intended...It didn't just shout for attention, it walked up and clubbed one over the head. It hurt his head.

"Your gown..It makes me want to commit an act of murder...."

(another gown)
"Do you like my walking gown?"

"It's an improvement on screeching horror...It ranks almost as high as sick fascination.. But, really. Are those vermilion bananas printed on the fabric?"

"Yes, I love it. Look." Jane held out her pendant, a green enameled monkey with fierce topaz eyes. "See? Isn't that wonderful?"

Who wouldn't love a girl who wears a banana dress with a monkey necklace? I think I have a girl crush on her.

Jane becomes friends with the Duke from the last book's brother, Oliver. As for him, I wasn't that excited. He was a little bit boring for my taste, but Jane more than made up for it.

One of the best parts of this series is how interesting all of the side characters are. In this one, we have a romance going on with Jane's sister and an Indian man which was taboo at that time, we have an aunt with agoraphobia, and we have the ongoing story of the rake that I'm already in love with and will be featured in the next book. He is getting all angsty and broody. My poor future book boyfriend needs me.

Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,580 followers
March 6, 2015

Kindle Deal - temporarily $0.99 - A STEAL!!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D... via @amazon

Another Brilliant Brothers Sinister Story!!

Without fail, Courtney Milan writes the most amazing historical romance novels. They’re stories that draw you in with characters who come to life and make you wish to be part of their world. The stories have so much truth to them, such depth, and yet, because of the characters, there’s much humor and passion as well.

The Heiress Effect is the second book in the Brothers Sinister series, and is Oliver Marshall’s story. Oliver, you might recall, is the “bastard” son we first learned of in The Governess Affair, a short, thoroughly delightful introduction to the series. I do recommend reading these in order because though each storyline is different, the relationships, the family dynamics, etc., all build upon one another and play a big part in why these “brothers” do the things they do.

From the Cover:
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.
In case I haven’t yet made it clear, I love this story! Oliver is such a great character. He’s honorable, smart, caring, sexy… everything a romance novel hero should be. But he’s also troubled, and that makes him even more appealing. The decisions he faced, the choices he made – he’s definitely an imperfect man, trying to become “someone” in a world that demands perfection. But it’s his imperfections that make him perfect for the outrageously improper Miss Jane Fairfield.

Jane is one of the most awesome heroines I’ve read in a very long time. Her devotion to friends and family, her quirky way of taking on the world and her willingness to be the mockery of “proper society” all made me absolutely adore her!

The Bottom Line: Honestly, Ms. Milan is one of the best storytellers in the genre, and if you haven’t yet read her writing, you’re missing out on some fabulous reading! Fans of amazing historical romance authors such as Pamela Clare, Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, and Sarah MacLean, you really must give Courtney Milan a try. You will not be disappointed!

My sincerest thanks to Ms. Milan for offering me a copy of this delightful, poignant, sexy story in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,948 followers
August 21, 2013
It hurt his head, that pink, yet he couldn't look away.

When the scene came up in Heiress Effect with Jane wearing the hideous pink dress, I was instantly recalling a moment from the show Firefly when Kaylee wore the tacky, pink, poofy dress. Ah, memories.

One might wonder why Jane is wearing hideous clothes to begin with. Let's just say that she's the exact opposite of a woman having a coming out. Jane doesn't want to attract a man. She wants to send them all running for the hills. Why? She has her reasons. You'll find them out.

So why is Oliver drawn to the woman in the garish clothing? Maybe he sees a little bit of himself in her.
And there had been a time when he'd been the one saying all the wrong things.

I had a great time reading The Heiress Effect. Imagine what it would be like to say every single insulting thing to people as you're thinking it, without fear of reprimand or being cast out. THIS is what Jane got to do. Some of the conversations between Jane and her peers were so incredibly awkward, yet so incredibly priceless, because she was flinging insults left and right off the cuff while trying to act as if she wasn't actually clued in to normal social graces.
She patted his hand comfortingly. "There's no need to worry," she confided. "Not everyone has that capability. You make up for any lack of intellect by being so kind."

You can imagine that Jane and Oliver were going to have an interesting go of it spending time in one another's presence. There wasn't even any playful or sexy sparring going on. Instead, these two were fumbling along, trying to figure each other out - which was quite a bit more interesting than the standard argumentative banter.

Jane was pretty but a little more robust than the average women in her social circles. Oliver was trying to overcome his own shaky past and make a new man of himself. He wasn't perfect looking and he even wore spectacles! Can I get an amen for the man being just as imperfect as the woman? I love when couples are flawed together, and not an extreme imbalance of one person seemingly more beautiful or put-together than the other!

And thankfully, the sexual chemistry was much improved from the last Milan book I read. Who knew that time spent on horseback could be so intriguing (well I guess I already knew, since I first saw it with Jamie and Claire in Outlander, but I assumed that was a one time fluke). I'm still trying to figure out how neck cramp wasn't happening, but ah well. Small details, whatever.

I am having a hard time believing that this book was as entertaining as it was because I didn't much care for the first book of the series. Since you don't need to read book 1 in order to enjoy book 2, I say skip on ahead and get lost in Heiress Effect if your interest has been sparked. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

This book provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes were not taken from the galley but instead from the final, published copy.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,843 reviews5,558 followers
September 1, 2016

*4.5 stars*

Apparently I messed up the order of the series, listening to The Governess Affair followed by this one, skipping The Duchess War. No matter, I had no trouble following along. In fact, I was totally riveted the entire time.

This audiobook was... dreamy.

I like my historical romance, M/F especially, a very specific way. So far, Tessa Dare has been the only one to get it spot on, but I can now add Courtney Milan to the list.

I love an offbeat heroine and Jane was quirky, outspoken, and just plain awesome. She was funny, smart, and EVERYTHING a MC should be. I loved her and I loved her chemistry with Oliver.

And an interracial historical romance side plot to boot? Could I ask for more??

The narration was also SO good. The narrator, Rosalyn Landor, did an extremely competent job.

I am pumped for the rest of this series. Courtney Milan, you have a new happy customer!!
Profile Image for Bubu.
315 reviews326 followers
November 20, 2017
Update Nov 2017

Sometimes, rereading a favourite can turn into a huge mistake: My tastes may have changed; or a certain part, I overlooked the first time, simply grates and it's just wrong.

But most of the time, rereading my favourites is like coming home. 'Coming home' has a quite literal meaning to me due to circumstances in my life, but that's neither here nor there. But when I do come home, it makes me want to hug the world.

Reading The Heiress Effect again felt indeed like I wanted to hug Jane and Oliver all over again, and not let go. Never let go.

Jane, this wonderful, strong and brave woman, reminds me of the much quoted poem by William Ernest Henley, Invictus, which ends with:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
And Oliver? Don't I know it to stay quiet, bite your tongue, try to fit in although people won't let you forget. How soul crushing is the scene after his aunt Freddie's death, and how uplifting when he realises what is truly important in life? And I'll never forget your fuchsine coloured waist-coat. I always, always think of Oliver when I come across the word 'fuchsine'. Never mind that he started my slightly obsessive fascination with red-haired heroes.

Jane and Oliver are right up there on the same level as Byrony and Leo.

I doubt I'll ever read The Suffragette Scandal, however often I've tried already. That would be saying goodbye to characters I don't want to let go. Sappy, ol' me.


Original review:

Of all the Brother Sinister series, this one is my favourite.

I have yet to read a book from Courtney Milan that hasn't surprised me. She doesn't use the 'Historical' part of her books as a wallpaper. No, she puts her characters directly into the context of their times and shows us the consequences. May it be the consequences of rape in The Governess Affair, worker's rights in The Duchess War, the reform of the voting system in this one, the 'forgotten' work and influence of women in science in The Countess Conspiracy or women's rights in The Suffragette Scandal. Not to forget racism and lesbian/gay life in that era.

Before reading this series, I came across one review saying that Ms Milan puts today's issues and transfers them back. On the contrary! It's shocking how even now, 150 years later, the issues are still there. In some parts of our world more than in others, but they're still there.

The smaller context of this book is to be part of a society, but rather than being truly accepted our main characters are merely tolerated. They are both bastards. Miss Jane Fairfield has the advantage of being the heiress to a large fortune, and Oliver Marshall is the bastard son of a Duke, and his now ducal brother has publicly acknowledged him and settled a rather big sum on Oliver once he was of age and supports him in his political career.

Both, Jane and Oliver, have reasons to seek Society. But being rather on the fringes of social acceptability means they're exposed to the little cruelties and ridicule Society reserves for them.

Their approaches, however, couldn't be any more different. Jane has to appear to be looking for a husband. Otherwise, her uncle, Titus Fairfield, who has also the legal power over her half-sister Emily, will get rid off Jane. And Jane can't have that. Emily, who has some form of epilepsy, would be subjected to even more painful treatments inflicted by doctors and quacks hired by Titus. To him Emily is unfit for the world outside his house. So Jane needs to stay unmarried until Emily reaches her majority, but the huge inheritance she received by her biological father makes her the target for fortune hunters.

Her strategy to keep them away from her is an unusual one. Her dresses couldn't be more hideous, her mannerisms unpolished, and she insults anyone and everyone who might show interest, thus making her an impossible future wife. She's well aware of the cruel jokes she's being subjected to but endures them for Emily's sake.

Oliver is the slightly more complex character. He's the son of Serena and Hugo of The Governess Affair. He grew up in a loving family, but upon joining Eton he's being made painfully aware of his parents' lower class status. Even his friendships to his brother Robert (The Duchess War) and his cousin Sebastian (The Countess Conspiracy) can't prevent the bullying he experiences, not only from his classmates but also by his teachers - the ultimate powers at Eton.

However, as a consequence he realizes that by staying quiet, not fighting them, silently enduring the insults but staying as a player in the background he can still achieve his dreams. But make no mistake. For all his politeness and silence, Oliver is an angry man after years of submission to people who aren't worth licking his beloved fathers boots. He wants to make changes in politics, he wants to give people like his father, Hugo who has never treated Oliver as anything else but his own son, the right to vote. For this he needs the Marquess of Bradenton, a powerful political figure, and his cronies on his side. As a condition for his support for the Reform bill, however, the Marquess of Bradenton (he's the constant target of Jane's rudeness) wants Oliver to publicly humiliate Jane.

And this is where Oliver and Jane meet. And this is where Ms Milan breaks my heart. I know I'm reading a Romance novel and I know there will be a HEA. But how dare she create two such wonderful characters who make me cry? How dare she write such beautiful and poignant dialogues that make me giggle at one point, only for her to make me want to scream at the injustices that Oliver and Jane have to endure a page or two later? As with my other two favourite authors of Historical Romances, Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas, we are being treated to a story that unfolds in layers where both of our main characters come to realize that the other is not what she/he seems to be at first sight. And before they fall in love they become friends, or maybe it happens at the same time, I can't tell. But here's one beautiful example of how they talk with each other.
He let his gaze drift down briefly, and then looking up at her. "Your gown, on the other hand..." He took a deep breath. "It makes me want to commit murder, and I do not consider myself a violent man. What are you wearing?"
"It's an evening gown." She spread her outrageously gloved hands over her hips.
"It is the most hideous shade of pink that I have ever seen in my life. Is it actually glowing?"
"Don't be ridiculous." But the smile on her face seemed more genuine.
"I fear it may be contagious," he continued. "It is setting all my preternatural urges on edge, whispering that the color must be catching. I feel an uncontrollable urge to run swiftly as far as I can in the other direction, lest my waistcoat fall prey next."
She actually laughed at that and brushed her shoulder. "This would make a lovely waistcoat, don't you think? But don't worry; the color isn't virulent. Yet.
"What does one call a color like that?"
She smiled at him. "Fuchsine."
"It even sounds like a filthy word," Oliver replied.

They talk about their experiences. They explain their motivations. Oliver even discloses Bradentons plan for her. They come up with a plan of their own as to how to thwart Bradenton's intentions for Jane.

But this all happens in the first half the book. Now comes the second part of the book So once the problem with Bradenton is out of the way, you'd assume the HEA is close at hand and a lesser gifted author would have contrived a couple of more plot lines to keep Oliver and Jane separated just to fill the pages. Not so here! Oliver has fallen in love with the wrong woman. See, Jane doesn't only wear these outrageous dresses because she has to. She simply doesn't really have much taste in the first place, nor does she have enough knowledge of fine manners, and she is a rather loud and opinionated person. She could learn all that and become the perfect wife for Oliver once Emily reaches her majority but she simply doesn't want to. She's done playing a different person. She wants to be the way she is. Oliver, to advance his political career, needs to marry a presentable woman. Not one as outrageous as Jane. She is the impossible girl.

At this stage of the book, we are confronted with a rather unusual situation for a Historical Romance, where the heroes are usually larger than life. No, Oliver, silenced at Eton in his formative years, is somewhat of a coward and I, personally, loved that. Because that's what life is like: Make either the convenient choice or do it the hard way. The choice is ours. As it is Oliver's. Marry Jane and give up his political career; or choose his political career and be unhappy with a woman who would never be anything like Jane. Both seeing that there's not much that can be done, Oliver and Jane part ways.

There's so much going on in this book. It is the secondary romance of Emily that brings them back together months later. But the initial problem hasn't been resolved, and although they love each other, it is Oliver who has to have good, hard look at himself before he realizes that staying silent has changed him and he doesn't like the person he has become. The context in which Oliver realizes it, is so heartbreaking it made me cry again. Ms Milan, have mercy!

So yeah, Oliver and Jane get their HEA and it's beautifully done. Oliver even gets to wear a fuchsine colored waistcoat! And my heart is whole again.

Thank you, Ms Milan! Thank you, thank you, thank you for a wonderful time you've given me, not only for this book. Never, ever stop writing Historical Romances, please!
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,236 reviews264 followers
September 20, 2020
I wasn't in love with this book. No really, it was just a good way to pass the time. I wasn't in love with it; the characters were just passing amusement.

In their first meeting, with the impossible Jane, both Oliver and Jane are playing a game. It's not a particularly fun game for anyone involved, but they each have their mission and meaning. And Oliver has...empathy. EMPATHY. And that lead to understanding and friendship. And people not being alone. And...love.

I said the The Duchess War was largely about moments for me. This book, even with its great moments, was largely about connections. The "keep talking," the "you are not alone," and the understanding they each have those people they would do anything for. That Oliver thought Jane impossible for him, but loved her anyway added to the tension and the sorrow in the book--at times, it was killing me. Ambition, see, is a tricky thing. It's difficult for me to understand, it comes at so much cost, and Oliver has ambition--and this is an issue. He needs a presentable wife. And Jane is anything but.

"I could never forgive myself if I asked you to extinguish your fire."

And Jane is so impossibly relatable.

“I am,” she said swiftly, “stubborn, argumentative, and…and he fears, considering my birth, potentially licentious.” She didn’t look up at him to see how he would take this. She probably shouldn’t have told him that. What he would think…

There was a pause. “Lovely. My favorite kind of woman.”

“You’re very droll.”

“Was I joking?” He held up his hands. “I wasn’t joking.”

Yet somehow it was not easy to forgive the tender, compassionate, loyal and sweet-talking Oliver his honesty and choices with Jane, because she's Jane. I don't have another way to explain this smart, relatable, too-forward, socially awkward, loyal, protective, fierce heroine. Or there, I guess I do.

But surely, Oliver wasn't in love with her. Surely not. (One of these days, I would love to catalog all those excuses. I wasn't in love with them. Really, I wasn't.)

But you know what else I love, and I tried to remember to point out a moment similar to this one in Beginner's Luck and failed, mostly because my reviews are on-the-fly, when Oliver shows up for Jane, riding away on horseback is uncomfortable, unromantic, and not smooth at all. Authentic moments like that in a novel really make a difference for me. There's leaping to the rescue in an inhuman yet entirely sexy way, and then there's this. Being human. Being fallible, and having your butt fall asleep and realizing that a man's thighs are damned uncomfortable.

Jane's bold even if it's not for her own good, true to herself even if it means disappointing others. There's so much to love about this flawed heroine, and a sharp tongue is definitely one of them.
"If you want a wren, marry one. Don't ask me." (Sidenote: parts of this scene were SO relatable for me, they were entirely too painful. Jane's lucky to have Oliver and I'm lucky too)

And what a perfect grand gesture at the end.
Profile Image for Al George.
502 reviews309 followers
May 26, 2017
Oh Oliver, you simply cannot keep a good woman down.

no shame

That's right. The woman has no shame nor should she.

Read for URR New Years 2017 Challenge, Victorian category


Sexy times: Our lovely couple gets busy a couple of times, nothing graphic.

Plan on reading more by the author: Yup - got to finish the series, don't I?

Synopsis: Oliver has been taught that to get anywhere in this world he must shut up. Jane refuses to be quiet or perfect. Jane has wads of green, a misguided and, in such, abusive uncle and a sister who might have some form of epilepsy. Said uncle will not stop finding bs treatments for said sister and Jane is determined to remain unmarried so she can stay in the house with sis. There is a lovely side story with sister which is just darling. Oliver is absolutely attracted to Jane and while cannot be mean and snarky to her the way his political cronies want him to, he cannot act of his attraction either. Jane is too loud, and too improper, and too Jane.


Heroine: Jane. Damn skippy. This girl does NOT back down. She stands in her power and owns it.

Hero: Oh Oliver, how you break my heart. Here is this person you want more than breath itself but it was instilled, nay forced, in you that you must disappear. Your walk in the sunshine was everything.


Why it did or didn't work for me:
I have no idea what happened to me last summer that I stopped at 70%. Jaysus. What was wrong with me? Whatever it was, the book has been finished and it rocked my world. These two are perfectly, heartbreakingly endearing.

I live to walk in the sun.

Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
January 9, 2023
“Just say it,” she begged. “Shut up, Jane. See? It’s not hard.”
“Keep talking, Jane,” he said softly.

This was delightful. Courtney Milan really understands how to write romance.

Heiress Jane Fairfield is the opposite of a wallflower—she is a girl of misplaced confidence who excels at being the most insensitive person in the room. Her secret: her awkwardness is an act, put on to avoid marriage proposals so she can stay at home and protect her sister from their controlling uncle. Meanwhile, ambitious duke’s bastard Oliver Marshall is asked to humiliate her in order to exchange for an important vote in parliament. But when he begins to look through her act, the two may each find someone who truly sees them.

There’s a lot to love about The Heiress Effect—great writing, excellent chemistry, and genuinely compelling characters. Jane’s sister’s point of view, and her coming of age, are delightfully done, with a focus on both ableism in the period and racism in the period. The respect given to Emily Fairfield and Anjan Bhattacharya as characters warmed my heart.

The characterization of Jane is particularly standout. While she puts on her insensitive act, she reveals to her new beau that her brave face initially rose from a true awkwardness, accidental. Her social ostracization led to her displayed; while her purposeful unpleasantness may be pretended, her awkwardness is a natural place.

“Remember what I am contemplating. I don’t think I should be making you more vulnerable to me. Not at all.”
“Too late for that.”

My favorite aspect of this book is the work it does to pull together a romantic arc and a character arc. In order for either of these characters to work as a couple, one must decide how his ambition works with his life, and one must both find a way to protect her sister while loving a man, and find a way to accept herself. For their romance to survive, they each must grow. The payoff for their romance comes with the payoff to each of their arcs—the secret to a great romance.

I always say I’m not a huge romance reader, but the standouts of this genre really do hit the spot. I trust both Courtney Milan (and my friend Linden, who recommended this) with my life now; I’ll definitely be returning Courtney Milan again.

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Profile Image for S.
379 reviews91 followers
May 3, 2015
Historical Romance - 4 stars!

Courtney Milan is a wonderful author and the Brother Sinister series is a wonderful series. This was by far the funniest romance I've read in a while and CM's funniest to date!


Jane needs to stay unmarried until her sister turns 21 and can escape from her guardian. And she will do anything to stay unmarried.

"You", he said with a small gesture of his hand, "are an anti-chameleon."
"I am an ant-eating what?"
"And anti-chameleon. The opposite of a chameleon," he explained. "You change colors, yes. But when you are in sand, you fashion yourself a bight blue so that the sand knows that you are not part of it. When you are in water, you turn read so that everyone knows you are no liquid. Instead of blending in, you change so you stand out."
Jane swallowed hard.
"Well, Sebastian," Marshall said, turning back to his friend, what think you of that sort of adaption? What kind of creature tries to stand out from it's surroundings?"
Mr. Malheur frowned and rubbed his forehead as he considered the question. "Poisons ones," he finally said.

Jane has good reason for her charade. She is naturally loud and socially awkward. Her sister has fits, like a mild form of epilepsy, and her guardian never lets her out and brings charlatans to experiment on her.

Marshall is the first one to see beyond Jane's bright feathers. He was the problem for me in this book. I wasn't very fond of him. He is too insecure and he lets other dictates his life. He is neither good or bad, but he couldn't make me fall in love with him.

On the upside, the side plot was divine. Without spoiling too much, I will say that her sister manages to sneak out and have an adventure of her own!

She would walk and smile, and nobody would know that she'd escaped the dreadful clutches of...of...
Not pirates. Not whalers. Not the czar of Russia.
"I've escaped the evil clutches of a nap", she announced to the road.

As a last note, this book can be read as a standalone, but as the other books are stronger IMHO I would really recommend that you start from the beginning.

My biggest thanks to Courtney Milan and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC. Always a pleasure!

Hero 3 ♥ Heroine 4 ♥ Romance 3 ♥ Humor 4 ♥ Hotness 2
Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews200 followers
February 15, 2017
I have nothing but praise for Courtney Milan’s books. Her stories are beautifully written, original and thought-provoking, her characters are compelling and her historical research is meticulous.

Jane is such a wonderful heroine with her selfless love for her sister and her overwhelming desire to protect Emily even when it means exposing herself to ridicule. I love her self-awareness. She knows how awful she is but uses it to her advantage. Beneath those garish dresses is a smart, determined woman. Talking of dresses, Ms Milan’s descriptions conjured up the most vivid images. I could just picture Jane in that ghastly creation with the yards of multi-coloured lace. The scene where she politely insults everyone is so funny.

She asked Whitting about his studies, and when he made a wry comment about preferring to concentrate his efforts on the study of liquids, she stared at him.
“How surprising.” Her eyes were very round. “I had not thought you to have the capacity of intellect to read physics!”

Sometimes the façade would slip to reveal a lonely woman with dreams and seeing this vulnerable side made me adore Jane even more.

I love Ms Milan’s analogy between the broken little cactus and Jane…

“Can you save it?” Jane asked.
“It’s a cactus,” the other woman replied absently. “They grow in deserts. They’ve evolved to withstand sun and slicing sandstorms.” She sounded proud. “You can kill a cactus, but it takes a sustained effort—consistent overwatering and the like. This piece of vandalism?” She shrugged. “This is just an act of propagation.”

While still remaining true to herself, I love how Jane reshapes her life, channeling all her money and energies in something very close to her heart.

Oliver isn’t the perfect hero; he has flaws and that, to my mind, makes him far more interesting and all too human. In his determined pursuit of his political ambitions, he has lost sight of who he really is. Once radical and outspoken, along the way he has come to the realisation “that the only way forward was to keep quiet until he grew so tall they could no longer shove him down”. Now, although he doesn’t realise it, he has become a prisoner of his own silence and his journey to finding himself again isn’t an easy one; he stumbles and falls along the way but finally…

…with a great effort—with the effort of a man uprooting everything he had made of himself—Oliver put one foot outside into the warm May sunshine.

I knew that Jane and Oliver would reach their HEA but it is the journey they have to take and the obstacles they have to overcome that made the romance so satisfying. Ms Milan has a way of drawing you into the hearts and minds of her characters so that you experience every twist and turn of their journey. It’s one filled with tenderness, passion, heartbreak and humour and I’m sharing some of my favourite moments. They also provide a showcase for Ms Milan’s brilliant writing.

She felt a sense of pure awareness. A frisson. She felt a real live frisson just from looking into his eyes.


“I fear it may be contagious,” he continued. “It is setting all my preternatural urges on edge, whispering that the color must be catching. I feel an uncontrollable urge to run swiftly as far as I can in the other direction, lest my waistcoat fall prey next.”


He couldn’t change her past. He refused to let go of his future. That left only the present: the warmth of her kiss, that sweet taste of something that might have been…and the bitterness of a love that would not be.


It was as if their bodies held a conversation that whispered along every nerve ending. All thought vanished. What remained was pure light, engulfing her.


“I don’t need that quiet wife. I need you. Someone bold. Someone who won’t let me stand back from myself, and who will tell me in no uncertain terms when I’ve erred.”



You are probably asking yourself what on earth is a pink (or should I say fuchsine) waistcoat doing in the middle of my review. Well, all I will tell you is that it relates to my favourite moment in the whole book.

There are other intriguing threads woven throughout the story. There is a sweet secondary romance between Jane’s sister, Emily and a young Indian barrister and we meet Free, Oliver’s youngest sister, a staunch advocate of women’s suffrage ( The Suffragette Scandal ). If you have read The Governess Affair or The Duchess War , you will remember Oliver’s cousin Sebastian Malheur, a renowned scientist and his friend Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. I must confess that Sebastian’s outburst towards the end of the book certainly makes me want to read The Countess Conspiracy .

I had to leave Oliver’s elderly, acrophobic Aunt Freddy until last because her story is so moving. When the secret she has been keeping is revealed, it brought tears to my eyes.

If you are a lover of Epilogues like me, Ms Milan delivers a thoroughly heart-warming one and I loved the reference to the little collection of cactus.

My Verdict: I can only think of one word to describe this book – SUPERB!


The Brothers Sinister series to date (click on the link below for more details):


Profile Image for Alba Turunen.
650 reviews205 followers
October 2, 2017
Al igual que el anterior de la serie, éste libro me ha gustado bastante. He encontrado ciertas similitudes, pero han sido sobre todo por el mismo ambiente original que tuvo la primera novela. Lo que sí puedo destacar desde el principio es que el mayor elogio del libro se lo lleva su protagonista femenina: Jane ¡Es todo un personaje!

¿Qué encontramos en éste libro? Pues volvemos a estar lejos de Londres (por lo menos durante más de la mitad de la novela). "La ventaja de la heredera" se desarrolla desde sus inicios en la universitaria ciudad de Cambridge. Jane Fairfield es una heredera nacida en el lado equivocado del matrimonio, pero por ello le fueron legadas 100.000 libras, por lo que pasó a ser una gran y codiciada heredera. Junto con su hermana menor Emily, viven en casa de su tío y tutor, Titus, pero éste es un pusilánime que no siente ningún afecto por Jane (pues no son realmente familia) y a Emily la trata como si fuera de cristal (debido a la rara enfermedad que la aqueja). Lo único que Titus desea es que Jane se case para quitársela de encima, pero Jane, poseedora de una gran visión de futuro e inteligencia, sabe anular todo lo que se le viene encima, sólo espera el momento en que su hermana cumpla la mayoría de edad para que puedan establecerse solas.

¿Cómo mantiene Jane a raya a todos sus "pretendientes"? Siendo zafia, maleducada, poniéndose en evidencia, soltando lo primero que pilla, y quizás lo más importante: poniéndose unos vestidos horrorosos y mal conjugados que matarían de un infarto a más de uno que la viera. Sí, su gran virtud es su herencia, y por desgracia eso es lo que ven la mayoría de hombres que conoce, hasta que llega Oliver.

Tenía muchas, muchísimas ganas de conocer la historia de Oliver, primero por haber leído el relato de sus padres, y después por el anterior libro de su hermano. Por éstos sabemos la clase de persona que es y lo que se propone. Oliver también es bastardo, fruto del desliz que tuvo su madre con el viejo duque de Clermont (poco llorado y muy odiado). Precisamente por la mancha de su nacimiento Oliver debe probar ante todos que es tan válido como ellos, que puede lograr grandes cosas. En lo que atañe a su libro es político y está pendiente de que se apruebe una ley del Acta de Reforma, dicha ley consiste en el sufragio universal. Ya que su hermano aboga por la disolución de la nobleza y pretende dar voz y voto a los desfavorecidos, Oliver intenta que éstos sean escuchados y tengan un papel social en la política de la época. Oliver llega a Cambridge para ganarse el voto de un importante marqués, pero sólo logrará su apoyo (y del de toda su camarilla de amigos que le lamen el culo) si humilla y pone en su sitio a la maleducada de Jane Fairfield.

Deciros que la situación entre los personajes no es tan fácil como parece. Oliver fue fruto de humillaciones y en el fondo ni quiere ni puede hacerle eso a Jane, y no sólo porque sea una dama y él un caballero, no cree que ella se lo merezca. Si algo me ha gustado de la relación de ambos protagonistas es que en ningún momento hay secretos, ni ocultamiento entre ellos, van siempre con la verdad por delante, y es por ello que me he llevado más de una sorpresa que he acabado aplaudiendo, porque nada en éste libro es lo que parece. Al igual que el primero es muy original, por eso me está gustando tanto ésta serie, porque es distinta a lo que muchas autoras consagradas publican de época victoriana.

Tampoco voy a engañaros, ha habido un par de momentos en que me han dado ganas de darle de collejas a Oliver por "cagarla", sí. He entendido sus motivos, pero no los comparto, creo que todo se podría haber llevado de otra manera. Por supuesto no voy a decir de qué se trata, pues sería spoilear, y no, no puedo hacerlo. Lo mejor es lo bien que ha llevado Jane la situación de todo, es una mujer muy fuerte, valiente, luchadora, arriesga con y por todo, no tiene miedo del mundo, aunque también es cierto que con 100.000 libras en el bolsillo puede enfrentarse a todas las adversidades que se le pongan por delante. Pero sí, tengo que repetirlo, el gran personaje del libro es Jane, y hay que conocerla. Me he topado con muy pocas protagonistas femeninas que me hayan gustado de ésta manera y que las haya admirado tanto. Para mi gusto, y esto es personal, el romance me ha sabido a poco, el anterior fue bastante más romántico, y éste segundo libro es más... casto. El romance tarda en surgir, pero no voy a mentiros, los protagonistas se gustan y se desean desde que se ven, pero es todo tan políticamente correcto que me ha tenido toda la novela impaciente esperando que hubiera algún beso más.

Por último destacaré que me ha gustado mucho la historia secundaria de Emily, pero me ha sabido a poco, quizás en un relato corto habría ido mejor. Desde luego me ha encantado conocer a Free, y creo que va a dar bastante caña en su libro. De momento haré un breve parón de la serie, para no empacharme, y más adelante empezaré con ansia y ganas el de Violet y Sebastian, que en éste libro me han dejado con la miel en los labios.
Profile Image for Pepa.
929 reviews231 followers
September 23, 2016
Reseña completa: http://masromance.blogspot.com.es/201...
Otra novela entretenida con personajes con fuerza y algo "inusuales"
Empieza con mucha fuerza aunque luego pierde algo de originalidad, me ha resultado muy entretenida.
Está claro que esta mujer gusta de protagonistas femeninas que rompen con los cánones de la época, quizás no cuide en exceso la ambientación, pero aún así disfruto de sus lecturas.
Seguramente son rápidamente olvidables, pero mientas las lees pasas un rato muy agradable con algunos buenos diálogos.
Creo que en esta novela es lo mejor, las salidas de esta atípica y estrambótica protagonista con esas conversaciones con el serie hijo ilegítimo del duque
Profile Image for Caz.
2,639 reviews999 followers
July 22, 2016
I've given this an A at AAR, which means it's that rare animal, a FIVE star read! Because honestly, I couldn't find anything to dislike about it :)

Ms Milan’s novella The Governess Affair, which is the prequel to this series, was one of my favourite books from late 2012, and I’ve listed Hugo and Serena from that story as one of my favourite couples on my reviewer profile here at AAR. Oliver Marshall, the hero of The Heiress Effect is their son, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting his story since I read the prequel in December.

And yes. It was well worth the wait.

Oliver bears many similarities to Hugo who, although not his biological father, is his father in every way that matters. Like Hugo, he is ambitious, fiercely intelligent, tenacious, and not above getting his hands dirty when something unpleasant needs to be done. He aspires to a political career and is slowly and carefully making a name for himself in the right circles, even though he is well aware that he doesn’t quite fit in with those he would join in Parliament.

Right at the end of The Governess Affair, we got a glimpse of the young Oliver at Eton being taunted and bullied by the boys there who considered themselves his betters, and then being befriended by Robert, heir to the Duke of Clermont (who was also Oliver’s biological father). That Clermont is now long dead, but Robert regards Oliver as his brother and has publicly acknowledged him as such. But even the acknowledgement of a duke cannot redeem Oliver in the eyes of some members of society; and he has to navigate carefully between two different worlds, the working class one of his parents and the higher echelons of society that contain the men of power and influence he needs to impress if he is to achieve his ambitions. As he has grown older, Oliver has realized that the best way to get what he wants is to stop standing up and standing out; and he has instead cultivated an appearance of calm acceptance and good sense, even though it sticks in his craw to have to kowtow to some of these men. But by doing so, he believes he can use the people who would use him, and has had some degree of success with those tactics.

But there is an “angry young man” bubbling beneath the calm exterior. Oliver is a passionate advocate for voting reform, and has his eyes firmly trained on his goal ��� until, that is, those eyes land on Miss Jane Fairchild for the first time.

Jane is already a laughing-stock among polite Cambridge society because of her terrible dress sense and her unerring ability to insult anyone and everyone. But there are one hundred thousand very good reasons she is tolerated – and she is well aware of it, even calling it The Heiress Effect. It suits her to appear stupid and to put up with the cruel comments and insults she knows are directed at her behind her back (and sometimes to her face) because, like Oliver, Jane Has. A. Plan.

Jane needs to remain unmarried for the next eighteen months, until her half-sister, Emily, reaches her majority. Emily suffers from some form of epilepsy (I’m guessing), although in general her seizures are mild. But the girls’ uncle, (and Emily’s guardian) Titus Fairfield, believes her to be an invalid, keeps her confined to the house, and persists in finding doctors and quacks who insist they can cure her, while subjecting her to the most horrendous treatments. He is desperate to get Jane married off and out of his house and Jane is equally as determined not to leave Emily to be poked, prodded and God knows what else while she remains under his roof.

Having never had a mother’s care, Jane grew up with nobody to guide her as to correct deportment and behavior or help develop her taste in clothes. As a result, she has always been different and an object of derision – so it was a simple matter for her to build on her lack of taste and manner in order to scare off potential husbands.

The first time she meets Oliver Marshall, she assumes he’s like all the other men she’s met – interested in her fortune – and immediately sets out to insult him. Naturally, he is taken aback – but being a gentleman, he behaves beautifully and doesn’t rise to any of her slights, all the time wondering why on earth she dresses so garishly and makes herself such an easy target. Reluctantly, he is intrigued and sympathetic, recognizing in Jane someone like himself, someone who doesn’t quite fit in. The more he sees of her, the more curious he is as to why nobody ever gives her a taste of her own medicine and the more appalled he becomes – not at her behavior, but at the fact that she seems to be oblivious to what people are saying about her.

Having been, while at Eton, on the receiving end of many insults – both verbal and physical – Oliver is determined not to join in with the general badmouthing of Miss Fairfield’s dress sense and manners; but the moment when he snaps is really rather lovely. She has deliberately referred to him as “Mr Cromwell” throughout the evening, and when she offers to send him the recipe for a cure for lumbago, he tells her to send it to him at his London address:

”Oliver Cromwell, care of the Tower, London, England.”
It’s at this point that Jane realizes that the quiet, unassuming Mr Marshall is very likely not at all what he seems. His demeanor has led her to believe:

”…that he was a quiet little rabbit. He wasn’t. He was the wolf that looked as if he were lounging about on the outskirts of the pack, a lone hanger-on, when in truth he had adopted that position simply so that he could see everything that transpires in the fields below. He wasn’t solitary; he was waiting for someone to make a mistake.”
I really liked the ‘wolf’ analogy, which I thought was a nice nod to Hugo’s having been known as “The Wolf of Clermont”.

Throughout the course of several meetings, Oliver and Jane strike up a deep and genuine friendship, which I thought was one of the highlights of the book. They truly are kindred spirits; in each other they have found someone with whom they can be themselves, and the scenes between them at this point are funny, tender and brimming with romantic tension. Oliver speaks with heartfelt intensity about what he wants to achieve in politics and about his motivations and his desire to make a difference – but more importantly tells Jane that he has figured her out, and that he knows what it is like not to be ‘one of the crowd.’ The scene where he tells her she is not alone is simply beautiful. In return, Jane opens up to him, telling him about her sister and her need to protect her until she comes of age. She thinks he’s lovely – and tells him so! – but what Jane doesn’t know is that Oliver has been approached by the Marquess of Bradenton, a very influential man in the political circles Oliver moves in, because the Marquess wants Jane brought down a peg or two (or several) in public. Bradenton has borne the brunt of Miss Fairfield’s misplaced wit one time too many, and wants her silenced; in return for this, he offers Oliver his support, and that of his cronies, for the voting reform bill.

Oliver is hugely torn. On the one hand, Jane is like him – an outsider, someone who has known derision and cruelty and he is reluctant to inflict more. On the other – Bradenton’s support would mean the enfranchisement of thousands and he tries to set one woman’s humiliation against the betterment of many. In a lovely scene, Oliver seeks his father’s advice; which is basically, “you already know the right thing to do”.

Which he certainly does.

There is quite a lot going on in this novel, but everything is woven together so skilfully that it flows naturally and none of the different elements is left unaddressed or unfinished. We meet Oliver’s youngest sister, Free (whose story will be told in a future book in the series) who is an advocate of universal suffrage and who wants to study at Cambridge; and we are reacquainted with Oliver’s aunt Freddy (Serena’s agoraphobic sister), who is as ascerbic and strangely insightful as she ever was, and his rakish cousin, Sebastian Malheur, whose appearance in the final section of the novel has well and truly whetted my appetite for his story , which I believe will be the next in the series. There is also a secondary romance in the book, at which I admit I balked a bit, because I’m not normally keen on having attention taken away from the primary couple – but I needn’t have worried. The relationship between Jane’s sister Emily and the young Indian barrister Mr Battacharya is established simply and realistically, and the scenes which take place during their stolen afternoons together are sweet and full of the shyness of first attraction.

As one would expect from Ms Milan, the historical detail is well researched and the central romance is beautifully written. Oliver and Jane are immediately engaging and very real; alike yet unalike they draw strength from each other even as they face up to the reality that they cannot be together. I think it’s important to say that the reasons for that are not external; they are not the result of a Big Misunderstanding, or an evil, interfering relative, but rather due to Oliver’s belief that Jane is not the sort of woman he needs at his side. She’s brash and wears garish colours and she doesn’t care what people say, but she’s comfortable with who she is, even as she knows she will never be the kind of submissive, “don’t notice me” kind of political wife that Oliver wants.

Even though it’s immediately apparent to the reader that Oliver is utterly and completely wrong in that particular assumption, I found it impossible to think any less of him because of it. His willingness to sacrifice his personal happiness for something bigger and his struggles between his desires and his conscience don’t diminish him in any way. It might not make him the perfect romantic hero, but it certainly makes him an interesting human being.

(He’s also auburn-haired and bespectacled. I think I may be in love.)

The ending was really lovely, with a poignant and unexpected twist that finally brings Oliver to the realization that, in his own way, he’s been just afraid of going “outside” as his aunt Freddy ever was. But unlike her, the walls which have constrained him have been of his own making; and while he has certainly accomplished more by biding his time and being quiet than he did by lashing out, he discovers that he doesn’t much care for the person he has become, the man who has “made a career of quiet.” He wants to step into the sun and live his life in noisy, messy color –and there is only one woman who can help him to accomplish that.

The Heiress Effect is intelligently written and full of warmth, sensuality and humour, a real treat for anyone looking for a well-written story with memorable characters. I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary to have read the preceding books in the series to enjoy this one, but if you haven’t read The Governess Affair or The Duchess War, you’ve missed out on a couple of superb reads!
Profile Image for Ingie.
1,329 reviews169 followers
February 16, 2017
Written September 17, 2014

4.8 Stars - The fourth BRILLIANT part in this lovely Brothers Sinister series.

Book #2

About a very wealthy '100.000' heiress who doesn't want to be a bride for marrige in the next 480 days ~ And the man who can't but feel and be interested in this wildly silly young lady who is looking lika a glittery peacock...with a lot of dangerous feathers.

...sigh devoutly with increased heart rate. - Impressing good!! This story give us wonderful (ordinary human) characters, big emotions, strong women and so nicely imbedded important social-liberal issues.

By now one of my favorite HR series.
Courtney Milan has written some great addictive stories. The fourth (stand alone) part in the Brother Sinister series is a grand proof.

(My reviews of the first novel + 2 novellas: )


Cambridgeshire, England, January 1867...

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. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

...Mischievous young ladies in the 1860's can be charming but there is a line.
‘She was a blight. A poison. A pestilence. She was the enemy of all proper conversation. Grown men would rather be mauled to death by lions than converse with her.’

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

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.
‘He'd started caring more about becoming the kind of person who could make a change than he cared about the change itself.’

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

When these two meet it immediately begins to crackle in lonely hearts and twinkle in wise brains.


The topic, plot and 'parlour-suspense'...
Jane has made it kind of bad for herself in the end. Far too many unwise statements and silly words has made her a dreaded non-liked young lady in the Cambridge dining rooms and lounges.

The mighty Marquess of Bradenton can't stand Miss Fairfield anymore. He wants to really hurt her and Oliver Marshall, an since school acquainted 'friend', is asked to take care of the matter with this disturbing and shameless young lady. In exchange will Mr Marshall get some votes for an important bill about the extension of the franchise in the Parliament.

Is Oliver Marshall really deep down a true gentleman even when the lady in question is a rather annoying, talkative, ill dressed, quite odd (and remarkable..) woman? Should Oliver choose what he so long strived to create or will his heart be the victorious? ~ Love or career?
‘...the great exesses had been slightly muted, changing her from utterly impossible to merly overly exuberant.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Jane Fairfield and Oliver Marshall are both kind of neglected, rejected, so-called intruders (and also despised bastards) in the finer society. He has ambitions to reach the very top in politics and creating needed changes for common people. She must remain unmarried to be able to take for her younger sister as soon as her sister gets older and they are both free from their uncle.

You can't but like these two. Once again is it about a mischievous scruffy Cinderella and an angry former bullied Ugly Duckling. Together they could become ten times as strong — ...but they doesn't know that — yet.

“When you keep quiet, people fill in their own most intelligent thoughts on your behalf.”

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Three sisters (but not siblings)...
As always, in Ms Milan's fine stories, there are also other small adorable side stories.

The grand saga about Jane and Oliver ended (..grandiose and colourful). ~ It's just for me to start to listening to the next book (#3 - The Countess Conspiracy) as soon as possible. (Maybe will my dear Maltese friend join me. Lucky me!)


Wonderful narrated by a lovely skilled female voice
As I said before, Ms. Rosalyn Landor is undoubtedly a great narrator for a historical in this style.


Intelligent historicals in my taste, because they feels "meaningful" (with some important underlying messages).

These Brother Sinister books are about wise and clever, but not the most heavenly beautiful, women on our Earth. You'll meet admireable adult heroines to identify yourself with (...and admire because they dare). ~ Stories about heroes that are both charming and manly strong, but also a bit damaged, slightly wistful and very love-thirsty men.

...Sexy fine (gentle)men who don't act like "horny cavemen" in all situations. (If you're in for some romance smut, don't worry, the romantic steaming hoooot smex are gooood.)

I LIKE - immensely!!

The Brother Sinister series by Courtney Milan. Four novels and three short novellas.
Profile Image for Jen .
802 reviews576 followers
July 25, 2013
4.5 Stars

”I have something to tell you,” she whispered, and he leaned in to hear her secret. “I am not a blight. I am not a pestilence. And I refuse to be a piece sacrificed for the greater glory of your game.

Courtney Milan’s The Heiress Effect is a poignant and wonderfully written story about a young woman with a big problem. Jane Fairfield just can’t seem to do anything right. Her clothes are too gaudy, her body’s too round and the most inappropriate things seem to come out of her mouth on a regular basis. With just a few seasons behind her she’s become the laughingstock of the ton. And that’s just the way she likes it.

The only thing that matters to Jane is the comfort and wellbeing of her younger sister, Emily. Unfortunately Emily’s under the guardianship of her misguided and clueless uncle Titus until she turns twenty one. Titus barely tolerates Jane as she isn’t his niece by blood but he’s promised she can remain in residence with Emily unless she has an offer of marriage, at which time she’d be forced to leave Emily. Desperate time calls for desperate measures and the only way for Jane to ensure she doesn’t receive a proposal from a fortune hunting suitor is to make sure she’s considered a completely unacceptable choice.

Oliver Marshall hasn’t had an easy life. Born a Duke’s bastard, he’s constantly being reminded that he’s not quite as good as everyone else around him. He’s finally starting to get the political recognition he deserves and he’s not about to let anyone or anything interfere with that. The first time he meets Jane he has the same reaction to her ridiculous gowns and social ineptness as everyone else, but it soon becomes apparent to Oliver that Jane isn’t exactly what she seems.

”An anti-chameleon. The opposite of a chameleon,” he explained. “You change your colors, yes. But when you are in sand, you fashion yourself a bright blue so that the sand knows you are not a part of it. When you are in water, you turn red so that everyone knows you are not liquid. Instead of blending in, you change so that you stand out.”

This book had absolutely everything I look for in a historical romance. The characters, even the secondary ones, were fully developed and believable. Courtney Milan could’ve easily made stereotypes out of Uncle Titus, Emily and the rest of the Ton. Instead of making Titus simply evil, his good intentions are obvious even though the results are disastrous. Emily, though weak from her “fits”, finds her strength and love in the process.

There’s no unnecessary drama or deception in this book and that’s something I’ve come to appreciate. When Jane confesses her situation to Oliver, the two are completely honest with each other from that point on. This would’ve been a different story had Jane not known of Oliver’s political motivations and the role she might have to play in order for him to achieve them. The two characters are allowed to slowly and naturally develop a relationship that goes from a respectful friendship to love and nothing felt rushed. It was wonderful to see Jane stand her ground and be the person she wants to be as well as for Oliver to find his own strength and realize he doesn’t have to play by anyone else’s rules in order to be a success.

After reading The Heiress Effect, Courtney Milan’s been officially added to my auto buy list. I’d recommend this to anyone that likes a well written historical romance and strong characters.

ARC provided from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Anna (Bobs Her Hair).
909 reviews193 followers
July 17, 2013
4.5stars (or A grade) … A Witty Historical Romance
The sly implication that Oliver didn’t belong, the even slyer one that he’d been subsumed into Bradenton’s goals instead of being a person in his own right…Bradenton reminded him of an old farmer, walking the perimeter of his property every day, testing the fences and peering suspiciously at this neighbors, making sure that his side and their side were clearly delineated.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has a loving family. His parents have sacrificed so their children may prosper and be happy. He strides toward giving the ‘common’ man the right to vote. The circumstances of his birth give him connections and continuous reminders about his proper place. His ambitions are noble. Then a despicable demand is made, a demand that could change hundreds of thousands lives for the better, but at a steep price. Miss Jane Fairfield must learn her proper place, and who better to deliver that lesson than a man with so much in common with ‘Feather Heiress.’

This is the type of story that gives me deep feelings of dread. Characters with cruel intention make me twitchy. It’s not about whether there will be a happy ending. It’s about how the hero will redeem himself in my eyes? How will he win my love? !!! Can he win my affection back if commits his cruel act? Also, the heroine needs a steel-spine or a strong sense of self-worth or this book will bomb, bomb, bomb!. Don't make it easy. Make it smart. Please! And please let there be more to the story than will he or won’t he. The answers? No gruesome spattering of ereader parts. Phew! Plus lots of twisted emotions that led to a highly rewarding and clever romance! (Oh, I cried and cried throughout this book!)

This book contains witty conversations. There’s an compellig intercultural romance with historical references to the East Indian Company and the Sepoy Rebellion. This book’s hero and heroine had a rewarding amount of depth that I found lacking in The Duchess War. Oliver was so tormented with the will to do the right thing and the temptation to change the world and claim victory. Jane is his match until the very end. There are good and bad tears. It’s all very good, including the emotional revisit of a secondary character from The Governess Affair. This comment is said a lot, but I didn’t want to put this book down! I started reading around midnight and read until sunrise. I’ve the dark circles to prove it! For those who felt disenchanted with The Duchess War please give The Heiress Effect a chance. It revived my appreciation of Courtney Milan’s writing, which was exuberantly earned in the prequel. The epilogue at the end of this book was deeply appreciated, too. I love a good epilogue that shows the characters years later.

Spoiler Quote but so, so good!

(Btw, I may or may not bump the rating to 5 stars later. I also feel like I forgot to add something. Please forgive updates. The thingamajiggie about not adding to my update feed ignores my requests.)
Profile Image for KatLynne.
547 reviews555 followers
August 2, 2013
4.5 Stars

Courtney Milan is a gifted wordsmith and a master at her craft! You can always count on a cast of characters that are unique as well as a story that will engage you from start to finish.

One of my favorite things about her books are the female leads. Each of her stories brings to life a female who exudes intelligence, is witty as well as having a backbone. It’s thoroughly refreshing and there’s never a dull moment with banter that’s exceptionally appealing.

The heroes are all pretty exceptional too, as is Oliver Marshall in this story. But the shining glory is Miss Jane Fairfield. She may be bold, loud, and not the best with London’s demanding etiquette, but she’ll definitely steal your heart. She’s so much more than she first appears and I enjoyed every minute of her unveiling.

The Heiress Effect is another fantastic addition to Milan’s Brothers Sinister series. I highly recommend this to everyone who enjoys this genre. You’ll become totally captivated in the plight of Jane and Oliver as they each find the inner peace they desperately need. Throughout their journey you’ll witness a tentative friendship slowly blossoming into the kind of love that last. You’ll not find descriptive love scenes. What you will find is a fascinating tale that’s brilliantly written and loaded with historical detail along with an exceptional cast of characters and a yearning for more from this author
Profile Image for Lady Wesley.
924 reviews313 followers
March 30, 2015
19 July 2013: Edited to add: I'm pleased to share that this is my debut review on the Romantic Historical Lovers blog. Wheeee! I've always wanted to have a debut!

Wealthy heiress Jane Fairfield is the laughing-stock of polite Cambridge society, and that’s just the way she likes it. She is counting the days until her younger sister reaches her majority, when Jane can liberate Emily from the tyranny of her guardian, their Uncle Titus. Until then, Jane will continue living in their uncle’s house doing everything she can to avoid the attentions of fortune-hunting suitors – draping her Junoesque figure in yards of lace and garish colors, talking too loudly, and oh-so-politely insulting people to their faces. (“What a lovely chandelier you have. I wager it would look almost new, if it had been dusted recently.”) Emily suffers from a mild convulsive disorder, and Jane is determined to protect her from the many self-proclaimed healers and downright quacks brought round by their ignorant, overly protective uncle.

Oliver Marshall (son of Hugo and Serena of The Governess Affair) is quite the opposite. After fighting back against the taunts and bullying of boys at Eton and Cambridge, the adult Oliver has cultivated an air of quiet competence and dignity. Oliver is the byblow of the now-deceased Duke of Clermont, who forced himself upon a governess and refused to assist her, but the current duke (Robert from The Duchess War) befriended Oliver at school and regards him fully as his brother.

While aspiring to a seat in the House of Commons, he is gradually making a name for himself in politics as an advocate of voting reform. He gingerly navigates his way between two worlds – the working class of his parents and the aristocracy of his biological father. Oliver is fiercely resolute and quite radical underneath his calm exterior.
Oliver didn’t know his place. He’d spent too many nights seething at the way of things, too long wanting to rise in power, not just so that he might wield it, but so that he might wrest it from the hands of those who abused it. They’d spent years trying to teach him his place; he’d learned through long, hard experience that the only way forward was to keep quiet until he grew so tall they could no longer shove him down.
The politically powerful Marquess of Bradenton holds a personal grudge against Jane Fairfield, and he recruits Oliver’s assistance in publicly taking her down a peg. Oliver doesn’t know Jane very well, but like everyone else he finds her rather ghastly. Oliver is tempted, as Bradenton has offered him political support that could significantly further Oliver’s aspirations. I love the clever way Milan describes the marquess – “like an old farmer, walking the perimeter of his property every day, testing the fences and peering suspiciously at his neighbors, making sure that his side and their side were clearly delineated.” Bradenton is evilly manipulative as he points out to Oliver that “in the end, we all know how this will work out. It’s one annoying girl against your entire future. Against the future of voting rights.”

Although Jane was born a lady, it was widely known that her mother’s husband was not her father. The mother had died when Jane was ten, and when she was thirteen, a man she had never heard of died and left her an immense fortune. Her legal father then abandoned Jane and Emily to molder in the country, with no governess, no companion, no playmates, and no education suitable to their station. Upon his death, they were forced upon Uncle Titus, who viewed Jane as “the product of her mother’s sin. She was argumentative, crude, unmannerly. She was, according to Titus, a poison in their household, one he only tolerated in the name of the duty he owed his dead brother.”

As Oliver becomes better acquainted with Jane, however, he finds that he rather likes her. Moreover, he sees her as someone like himself – tolerated but never really accepted by their supposed betters. Oliver begins to see through Jane’s charade, to see a woman who is lonely, who can barely breathe under the burden she has assumed.
"I see shoulders that dare not relax, muscles that dare not twitch, lips that dare not do anything but smile. You’re awash in choices, Miss Fairfield, but you know as well as I that the wrong one will bring your carefully husbanded awful reputation to naught."
Finally, Oliver half-guesses and Jane half-confesses the reasons for her pretense, and Oliver tells her of Bradenton’s plot. As they grow closer, an unwanted attraction develops, but both of them know that it can proceed no further. Oliver needs the kind of wife who can advance his political career, and Jane is certainly not that woman. And so they part, and later even after they meet again, admit their feelings, and act upon them, they still go their separate ways because Jane is not cut out to be the wife that Oliver wants.

Courtney Milan has written not just another wonderful romance novel; she has written a breathtaking novel. Full stop. While Jane and Oliver are pursuing their dreams, there are other, smaller but equally engaging, stories. There is Emily’s attraction to an Indian law student whom she meets when she sneaks out of the house for afternoon walks. There are vignettes of Oliver’s relationship with his father Hugo and his little sister Free, a suffragist who wants to go to Cambridge. (Her story will arrive in The Mistress Rebellion.) We again meet Oliver’s cousin Sebastian Malheur, a scientist who has become famous, and reviled in some quarters, for his papers on natural selection that support Mr. Darwin’s new theories, and his friend Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. (Their story is coming up in The Countess Conspiracy.) There is a vivid picture of the great Hyde Park demonstration of May 1867, which was banned by the government but ultimately went forward because the crowds were so immense that the police and army did not dare to attack. There is even a kidnapping and forced elopement, which is so well done and so funny that I forgive the author for succumbing to the temptation to resort to such a tired old romance trope.

And finally, there is the truly heartbreaking story of Oliver’s elderly Aunt Freddy whose agoraphobia has kept her closed up in her tiny flat for years. She once told Oliver that
“Some people, when they’re hurt . . . they remember the challenge. They grab hold of the fire once, and when they’re burned, they make plans, trying to figure out how to hold live coals. That’s your mother. But some of us remember the pain.” She reached out and patted Oliver’s hand. “You’re like that. You remember the pain, and you flinch. When you were young, I thought you were like your mother—a regular coal-grabber. But no. Now I see more clearly.”
It isn’t a spoiler to reveal that she dies at the end of the book and that the truth about her life brought a tear to my eye. It is her passing that finally jolts Oliver out of his complacency. He realizes that Jane is not wrong for him; she is precisely right.
“I don’t need that quiet wife. I need you. Someone bold. Someone who won’t let me stand back from myself, and who will tell me in no uncertain terms when I’ve erred.”
She didn’t know what to say.
“I’ve needed you to shock me out of the biggest mistake of my life. To make me recognize my fears and to reach into the fire and grab hold of the coals.”
There are so many interwoven themes, such wry humor, and so much beautiful prose in this book that I found it difficult to select the bits to include in this review. In my opinion, though, this is Courtney Milan’s best book yet, and given her track record that alone is saying a lot.
Profile Image for RIF.
280 reviews
July 21, 2013
As usual Milan's characters are unique, feel more real than 90% of those in other romances and her plot/pacing are more effective at telling an interesting story about interesting people than most. Despite the pros, for Milan, who's usually so adept at building chemistry, I wasn't feeling much here. The side stories sometimes took a front seat and later seemed to just sort of iron out as a matter of course. The sister's story could have been its own novella, I got the feeling it called to the author as much or more than the H/h. Ultimately though what kept this from a 4 star (re-read) for me was, despite many character's charming stories (like Aunt Freddie) and clever plot quirks, much of both aspects in the book felt more like personifications of characteristics than real humans with meaningful connections and rewarding collaborations. The heart of the story came off as having a morality tale-like purpose rather than lush romantic discovery (and I wanted both, Milan is great at putting her characters in situations in which they make difficult choices that ultimately lead them to love, choices that make me love and root for them, but the romance is more important to me than the "morality play" in the end). The novella that started this series off was much more romantic, as was book 1, IMO. Looking fwd to the next one though, and anything else Ms Milan graces us with!
Profile Image for Viri.
1,097 reviews384 followers
March 17, 2017
Una historia poco común

Me gustó, pero no pude conectar con sus protagonistas, es una novela bien contada, pero le faltó vida, esa chispa que tuvo el primer libro estuvo mas bien escaza aquí. Está bien para pasar el rato pero no tiene tantos sobresaltos.

PD: Voy por mi Sebastian.... pongo changuitos para que me guste jajaja
Profile Image for Grecia Robles.
1,440 reviews323 followers
March 24, 2017

Este libro tiene de romántico lo que yo tengo de sexy, o sea NADA pero como que ya lo veía venir ya que el libro anterior tampoco hubo mucho romance pero si un poco más que en éste, aunque este me gustó más.
El punto central de la historia radica en temas políticos y socieconómicos, donde la gente exige un trato equitativo entre los nobles y la gente común, se me hizo interesante que llegué a un punto en que ya no ansiaba ver a Jane y Oliver juntos.

El personaje de Jane es la voz cantante la fuerza de la historia es una chica que no entra en ningún molde que no intenta encajar, habla demás y no se calla veste de manera estrafalaria y no le importa y tiene la valentía de enfrentar a todo el mundo con tal de que su hermana esté bien y Oliver por su parte casi no me gustó le faltó el valor que a Jane le sobraba y aunque decía que amaba a Jane no vi ese amor hacia a ella no como Robert hacia Minnie.

Llegué a esta lectura por Seabastian y vi chispazos de su historia y m estoy muriendo por leerla
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,831 reviews4,659 followers
December 31, 2020
For some reasons December was the month of historical romances so thank you once again to Bethany for introducing me to Courtney Milan. 3.5 Stars

While the The Heiress Effect is the 2nd book in the Brothers Sinister series it can be read as a standalone. It focuses on a woman by the name of Jane who participates in the most insane behavior as a means to deter men from wanting to marry her. This is all in relation to her wanting to protect her sister from their uncle. She meets her match in Oliver Marshall who also knows what it means to be made fun of and ostracized from the community. The two become close friends and of course a romance ensues as they get to know each other better.

What I loved most about this book was probably the humor. Within the first couple of pages I found myself laughing out loud at Jane's "obscene" attire and behavior at social events. Even by today's standards I think that people who attended the same events as her would be left speechless. Her motivation to protect her sister at all costs was admirable, genuine, and heartwarming. Speaking of her sister, the two (Emily and Jane) had such a great relationship. Their closeness, admiration for each other, love for each other is something that reaches off the page and into the emotions of the reader. There was never a question in my mind that Jane would be willing to do whatever it took to make sure that her sister was safe. While I won't explicity describe the details of why Jane is forced to protect Emily, I think that it speaks to the treatment of physical ailments and how they impact women during this specific time in history. Their uncle who thinks that he's doing right by each of the women is abusive and coldhearted. I didn't care for him as a character, but Milan did a great job in providing some social commentary of the plight of woman who were in Jane and Emily's position. I also enjoyed Milan's writing style. I've only read a few historicals prior to this; however, I think out of the four I found this one to be the most accessible in terms of language, writing style, and structure.

Even with the elements of the book that I enjoyed, there were aspects that I didn't find enjoyable and prevented the book from being higher than 3.5. Milan did a little too much with this book. There were so many elements related to side characters that it forced our main characters into the background at some points. Particularly the relationship related to Emily. I was more invested in her romance than Jane's and that causes problems when the book centers around Jane. There were other plot lines that occured that made some parts of the books feel like chaos almost as if Milan was trying to force too much into the book at one time. Then there was Oliver. I've seen worse heroes but he definitely wasn't a favorite of mine. There were certain ideals that he held about Jane and her worth that didn't sit well with me. I do understand his stance on certain things due to his involement in politics; however, I just couldn't get past "Jane not being worthy" and the ending just couldn't justify his previous actions for me.

Overall, I thought that this was a good historical. I'll be interested in checkin out the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Ursula.
584 reviews137 followers
April 27, 2019
This was a cute book. The heroine, Jane, was very brave and protective of her sister, and the descriptions of the clothes she wore to discourage potential suitors were hilarious. And the put-downs she delivered- so seemingly innocent yet so biting- were terrific. It was especially funny to read how the "gentlemen" were unable to respond in kind and had to simply suck it up. Because a gentleman is like that with a lady. Courtney Milan writes these sorts of dialogues so well, I am very willing to forgive her few, isolated Americanisms (did Victorians get "riled up" and did they have "no truck" with something?) and enjoy the banter.

I had trouble with the hero, though. Oliver was so obsessed with achieving political power and influence (to do only good, of course. He was not a BAD man) that he bluntly told Jane he was only in the market for a colourless, mousey type of wife, the very antithesis of Jane. He wanted his wife to BE LIKE Jane- he loved her, apparently - but NOT like her. Even when we are told why he thinks like this (he was bullied, especially by a sadistic teacher, at Eton, of course. Eton is a hell-hole according to all these HRs) I couldn't respect the somewhat spineless and sycophantic way he conducted himself. I wanted to yell: Grow a pair, for God's sake! (sexist Australianism). He came around to seeing the light, of course, but I felt like he had had his chance and she deserved a magnificent hero who would sweep her off her feet after all the shite she had gone through.
At the end of the day I enjoyed the story but felt that vibrant wonderful Jane deserved better :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jaya.
431 reviews221 followers
July 17, 2018
okay rating modified to 5 stars because when you are reminded of a book/characters at odd/unrelated moments it deserves the highest rating in my books and of course...all the
Profile Image for Lisa.
328 reviews77 followers
July 16, 2013
Miss Jane Fairfield has four hundred eighty days until her sister reaches her majority and she can free her from her guardian. However, during those days she must find a way to ward off any suitors after her one hundred thousand pound dowry because if she marries before her sister is old enough, her sister could be lost forever. Her solution is simple, be dreadful at all times. Dress flamboyantly. Say the wrong things to important people and make them uncomfortable so they stay away yet do not completely shun her due to her wealth. One man sees through her ruse though. Mr. Oliver Marshall finds the bold Jane intriguing and finds himself drawn to her even though she is far from what he needs in his life as he tries to achieve success in Parliament. Yet when he is asked to teach her a sharp lesson, he finds himself wavering but maybe not quite enough. Will Oliver find the courage to keep Jane, just as she is, or will he push her away?

Everytime I start a new Courtney Milan story, I know I am in for a emotional, layered tale. Each piece fits and builds to the next and you slowly savor it as you go. The romance of Jane and Oliver is slow, built upon friendship first and put to the test due to Oliver's ambitions. I really adored Jane and how she is ignorant on purpose. Her clothing choices were a delight and created a vivid blur in my mind. Jane is bold, stubborn and her uncle, her sisters guardian, feels she is a bad influence due to her birth and having to be dreadful and find a way to protect her sister from her uncles attempts to cure her seizures, weary. Jane forces Oliver to not stand back and be walked over due to his upbringing. He has felt out of place due to having a duke for a father (on the wrong side of the blanket) and being accepted by his half brother and being raised by his working class father. He rarely tells the whole truth to people as a result and Jane lets him do this. Together they fit yet they shouldn't. Jane is wrong for where he wants to go in the world but he needs her to be himself. There is a secondary romance between Jane's sister and a wonderful suitor that I almost wished would have been a whole story in and of itself but it just added another layer to shaping Jane and Oliver. This is another winner from an author I think is tops for the historical genre. True love finding a place between an unlikely, yet perfectly fit, couple who need to accept themselves with subtle humor, a dash of heat and a promise to make you smile. 4 1/2 stars

Review copy provided by the author via netgalley.com
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