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Belles of London #1

The Siren of Sussex

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Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?

400 pages, Paperback

First published January 11, 2022

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About the author

Mimi Matthews

21 books3,046 followers
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning Victorian romances, including The Siren of Sussex, a 2023 RUSA Reading List shortlist pick for Best Romance; Fair as a Star, a Library Journal Best Romance of 2020; Gentleman Jim, a Kirkus Best Book of 2020; and The Work of Art, winner of the 2020 HOLT Medallion and a 2021 Daphne du Maurier Award nominee. Her novels have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, and Shelf Awareness, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine.

In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

**I only rate the books I love.**

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,211 reviews
Profile Image for Mimi Matthews.
Author 21 books3,046 followers
January 4, 2022
The Siren of Sussex is the first book in my new Belles of London series. Set in 1862, it features Evelyn Maltravers, a bluestocking equestrienne determined to make her mark in fashionable society, and Ahmad Malik, the talented (and devastatingly handsome) London tailor she enlists to design her daring riding habits.

Some of you might be familiar with Ahmad from my Parish Orphans of Devon series. He and his cousin Mira first appear in A Modest Independence as manservant and maid to heroine Jenny Holloway. There's some overlap in the two series, primarily in the characters of Tom, Jenny, and Mira to start (though later books will overlap a bit more).

Ahmad and Evie’s love story is closed door, but still quite emotionally passionate. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did researching and writing it!

**Edited to add some background info on a subject in the story that's drawn questions from a few advance readers.

I hope this gives you a little insight into why is referenced in my story.
August 9, 2023

Instagram || Threads || Facebook || Amazon || TikTok

When I saw Kristina's review of THE SIREN OF SUSSEX, my interest was piqued. The cover had initially captured my eye because it felt like such a throwback to those retro historicals of the 70s and 80s, with the big, bold marquee-style font, some of which even featured the hero or the heroine (or both) on horseback.

That's where the similarity ends, though. This is a very nuanced book, and totally devoid of spice (RIP, smut). Instead, it is a sensual, relationship-focused book between a horsewoman named Evelyn and a tailor named Ahmad. Evelyn comes from a good family but her reputation is threatened because her sister absconded with their titled neighbor's son, and is now living "in sin" with him in France. She needs to make a marriage of her own to save her own siblings' prospects and reputations but she's hopeless in a ballroom, so she decides the best way to catch the eye of the public is by showing off her equestrienne skills in fine clothes, just like The Pretty Horsebreakers.

Ahmad, on the other hand, is a biracial man of Indian decent who works in a tailor shop. People often mistake him for the help but he's actually next in line to own it. The women who pay for his services take advantage of his precarious situation in society to both sexually harass him and stiff him on the bill, and he puts up with it because he can't afford to alienate any patrons. Which is why he's surprised and delighted when Evelyn comes to him and make her demands. With a partnership of this nature, her being seen and admired will get them both what they want.

This was just such a great book. I know I have some friends who NEED smut in their romance or they're bored, but for me, the emotional connection and intimacy between the characters is way more important than sex. Like, I prefer to have both, but if given the choice between an erotica novel that doesn't have much story or connection, just tons of hot sex, or a romance novel that is entirely emotionally driven and filled with pining, I'll choose the later even if they don't bang. Mimi Matthews made eye contact and hand holding what some authors can't even do with a touch on the thigh, okay? There was PINING. There was CONNECTION. There was ROMANCE.

Ahmad is also just such a great hero. He sewed pockets into her dress for her glasses! He helped her find her missing sister and escorted her through the worst part of London to make sure she didn't get hurt. :') And he was just so perfect for Evelyn, who is my favorite no-nonsense sort of heroine. I also loved that the author gave her a big nose and glasses. When you read book after book with stunningly beautiful heroine, it's fun to encounter characters with less conventional features. I also liked that one of Evelyn's friends has prematurely gray hair. Little things like that just feel so inclusive, you know?

If you're looking for a solid romance with an anti-colonialism narrative, a beautiful love story, and a relatively realistic (I mean, what do I know?) and well-researched historical setting, read this book. It's perfect for the horse girlies out there who grew up with My Little Pony and Misty and thought to themselves, "What next?!"

4 stars
Profile Image for Kristina .
734 reviews308 followers
August 26, 2023
This was a slow starter for me but the characters, concept and story were so original and well written; I really enjoyed it. 4.5 stars rounded up because of dress pockets.

So the premise of this book is not an uncommon one; a woman looking to make a good marriage seeks the help of a man, the man also benefits by making the woman his muse and having her bring him custom. But Mimi Matthews is a master fairtyteller and historian and she takes a common romance premise and intricately weaves it into a heartwarming love story, a critique of colonialism, a Victorian history lesson and a triumphant comeuppance. And she does this while also writing the swooniest, sweetest, most worthy hero who SEWS POCKETS IN HIS LOVE’S DRESSES. He’s a tailor btw so this makes sense, he’s not just creepily going into her closet rifling through her clothing.

The heroine was amazing in this too. She took charge of her life, helped solve their problems (or made them liveable) and was a true partner to him.

My only critique of this is that they didn’t spend enough time together and their love was slightly sudden to me. I needed just a bit of extra time where they were just Evelyn and Ahmad, without all their problems and all the things keeping them apart.

But no book is perfect and this one really was quite excellent.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,184 reviews30.5k followers
October 2, 2022
Some quick thoughts on this regency romance:

I don’t often read regency, but when I do, I’ve definitely enjoyed Mimi Matthews’ books. That was certainly the case here as well. Filled with fashion of the time and details about equestrianism, The Siren of Sussex is about a forbidden romance. I really enjoyed the characters and the smooth writing, and I’m looking forward to book two in the series.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Ira.
1,070 reviews100 followers
March 3, 2023
What a beautiful story ❤️.
I think, I found a new favourite author 😍

And the hero name is Ahmad Malik, a Dressmaker.
The way he talks to Evie, and all those beautiful dresses he created for her, aww ❤️❤️❤️

It really feels like I was reading a Historical Romance, even thought the story is very current.
Ms. Matthews succeed in that regard and not like many other well known authors who tried too hard to modernise their characters and their story became ridiculous, 🙄😳😂.

Also, this story feels like an old school historical romance.
Mind you, no steamy scenes here, if that’s a must for you, don’t bother with this one.

But for me? A fabulous story will rating much higher than any smut which I can find easily in any other books 😘.

So, do read this one if you love strong heroine, gorgeous and wonderful hero, lots of fashion discussions and horses, and some er.. 'mumbo jumbo' too, for the fun bits 😜😳😂🤣

Profile Image for Shawna.
3,548 reviews4,575 followers
January 21, 2022
5 stars - Victorian Historical Romance

Wow! What a fantastic read to start the year! I’ve read so many historical romances that at times it’s as if they start to blend together and are indistinguishable from the next. Mimi Matthews has crafted a unique, beautiful, eloquent, and touching romance with wonderful, distinctive characters that make you fall in love with them and root for their happy ending.

The Siren of Sussex really brings the Victorian era to life. The writing is deeply affective, and the story is so original and visual. It’s one of those books I could clearly picture in my head, and it felt like I was watching a movie. The author manages to give insights and details about horses and riding and fashion and dressmaking to make them important aspects of the characters and storyline without it becoming tedious or repetitive.

The characters in The Siren of Sussex are multifaceted, genuine, and refreshingly different. Evelyn is such an amazing, endearing heroine. She’s brave, strong, kind, resourceful, compassionate, loyal, and determined. She’s a confident, accomplished equestrienne, and she cleverly uses her skill as a rider to find a way to distinguish herself and improve her situation in life.

Ahmad Malik is such an unusual hero, and I mean that in the absolute best of ways. I’ve never read a romance with a hero who is a tailor/dressmaker or that is half Indian and half British. He’s endured a rough, painful life filled with loss, poverty, brutality, and bigotry, but he’s honorable, respectful, protective, tender, and selfless. He’s a sincerely sigh-worthy hero.

Evelyn’s friendship with fellow wallflowers/bluestockings, Anne, Julia, and Stella, reminded me a little bit of Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflowers. They’re all considered peculiar for various reasons and bond over their love of riding and facing the London season together. I really hope we get books for all of them!

The heart of this story is the relationship between Evie and Ahmad, and it’s truly romantic. Their friendship, mutual affection, and respect is so beautifully written. Their longing for each other is intense and palpable. The dress fitting scenes requiring Evie and Ahmad to be close to each other are full of intimacy, yearning, and erotic tension. The appreciative, heated glances and casual touches are more sensual than some books with drawn out love scenes.

The book doesn’t gloss over the serious obstacles faced by Evie and Ahmad being together because of their differences in class, wealth, and race and society’s censure.

The Siren of Sussex is an original, beautifully written, inspiring, and moving romance with unforgettable characters. I can’t wait for more books in this series! Big 5 stars!

“The two of them could still never hope to be anything more to each other than what they were in this moment: a man and a woman divided by wealth, rank, and the entire history of British colonial rule.”

“In that moment, she seemed very much a siren, and he no better than some poor mad sailor dashing himself upon the rocks.”

“Dressed in elegantly cut black-and-white eveningwear, he looked more broodingly handsome than on any other occasion she’d seen him. Truly a fallen angel come to earth. Not reluctantly this time, but purposefully. He’d come for her.”

“Love!” Lady Arundell scoffed. “How can that possibly be?”
“He sewed pockets in all of her skirts,” Anne said.
“Pockets.” Julia sighed. “Imagine.”
“And she didn’t even have to ask him to do it,” Stella said.

I received a copy of this book from Berkley Publishing as part of the Goodreads giveaways, but that in no way influenced my enjoyment of the book or my review.
Profile Image for Dab.
217 reviews120 followers
July 20, 2023
I’ve met Ahmad in A Modest Independence and had a good feeling about him then, but this book exceeded my expectations, five shining stars!

Since Evelyn’s older sister had caused a scandal a few years back, the fate of her younger sisters has been on her shoulders - she has to restore the family’s good name and marry well. Evelyn’s one passion in life is horse riding so she comes up with a plan - she will catch a husband while on horseback. To be successful she needs fashionable riding habits.

Ahmad is a very talented designer and tailor. He’s been living in England for most of his life but he is half-Indian, it’s not enough for him to be good, to be accepted he has to be extraordinary, better than anyone else. (People of color still fight these battles btw, over a century later!)

This was one of my favorite Mimi Matthews books. The romance was obviously the main theme but the topics of racism, overcoming the pressure of society, and eventually finding happiness despite obstacles were equally important.

I adored Evelyn, she was a true feminist, open-minded and fearless. She was a perfect match for Ahmad and she had what it took to fight for their relationship. Ahmad was grumpy and needed some convincing to open up, but he had his reasons to be cautious, he was a person of color in Victorian England after all. (Besides grumpy guys with hearts of gold are my drug of choice 😍 )

At first, despite the undeniable attraction he didn’t believe that they could have a future together. But that’s the beauty of this book - the message that HEA is possible for two people with completely different backgrounds, from different races and classes. Swoon-worthy and so satisfying!

Highly recommended for historical romance lovers!
Profile Image for Karen.
810 reviews1,026 followers
January 28, 2022

Pity one can't ride a horse into a ballroom.

Oh, how I loved this one!! A forbidden romance, that went beyond all the social barriers. And believe me there were nothing but barriers for these two. As always MM's writing was just fantastic. The characters were extremely well done, and such a creative storyline. Matthews has solidified herself as one of my go-to authors. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

He gazed down at her. And he seemed to see it. The way she felt for him. It wasn't some weak, ladylike infatuation. It was strong, just like she was. Strong and true and willing to risk anything.

"It's a sort of magic, I believe," she'd said. "To create clothing that can do that for a person. That can transform them into something extraordinary."

Profile Image for Drache.... (Angelika) .
961 reviews28 followers
July 7, 2023
reread 07/2023
Just as lovely the second time around!

5 stars.

And now that I've read Evie's story I'll directly jump to Julia's story "The Belle of Belgrave Square".
read 01/2022
I'm in awe of the beauty of this book, and at a loss at the same time: why are there not more readers who appreciate and love this author?
Mimi Matthews has written many beautiful novels, including three of my all time favorite historical romances, The Lost Letter, A Holiday By Gaslight and The Matrimonial Advertisement.
The Siren Of Sussex is in my opinion one of her best (and not just one of her best, but one of the most beautiful historical romances in general), and it will certainly be another all time favorite for me.
A captivating storyline with historical accuracy, interesting side characters, main characters you couldn't not love because they were so precious, genuine and deserving of happiness... this book has it all.
Miss Matthews is a genius at writing romance without even a hint at more physical intimacy than a few kisses! There was so so much amazing chemistry between Evie and Ahmad, I loved it.
5 stars.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,235 reviews145 followers
May 15, 2022

Cute Regency romance with a lovely injection of cultural diversity but what would have worked in a different era, just didn’t ring true for the 1800s.

That said I was crushing on our hunky hero and how he empowered our slightly nebbish heroine. And the fashion descriptions were an added delight!!

Highly readable— looking forward to the next one— despite some historical (more social) stretching!!

Profile Image for PlotTrysts.
651 reviews216 followers
January 18, 2022
Mimi Matthews is our go-to for when we feel like a Traditional Regency but set in Victorian times. Her books are perfect comfort reads, with minimal angst, maximal Victorian fashion, and sweet romances that end after a kiss or two. With plenty of information about the dressmaking business (truly fascinating), Victorian spiritualism, and (of course) a sweet love story, The Siren of Sussex lived up to our expectations.

The Siren of Sussex is a bit of a departure, as it revolves around the unlikely romance between a South Asian tailor and a young daughter of English gentry. They meet because she has decided to "lead from strength" - her exemplary horsemanship and Andalusian stallion will attract attention from men who might ignore her on the dance floor. But of course, she needs to be impeccably dressed before she can implement her plan. Enter Ahmad Malik, her tailor.

The romance between the two of them is simultaneously believable (they spend a lot of time together in close proximity while he pins her skirts - no euphemism!) and endangered by a believable conflict (he's a tradesman and half-Indian). It's always great to read a romance with a realistic conflict, and there were moments where we couldn't see how Evelyn and Ahmad would get their HEA. But rest assured, they do, and we loved it.

28-Word Summaries:

Meg: Evelyn decides she’s got to dress for success if she wants to have a chance at making a match. She succeeds at becoming her tailor’s muse … and more.

Laine: Looking good and dressing well is Evie's purpose, and an up-and-coming dressmaker identifies her as his muse. Who knew dressmaking could be so financially, emotionally, and erotically charged?

This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novel.
Profile Image for Delirious Disquisitions.
448 reviews185 followers
August 28, 2022
I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

You Should Read This If You Like: historical romances with BIPOC characters, British-Indian love interest, historical romances that don’t take place in a ballroom, sizzling chemistry, and seemingly doomed romances.

I adore Mimi Matthews, she has quickly become one of my favorite authors in the historical romance genre. Her books always have a melancholic undertone to them, the kind of tragic unease best suited for haunting, doomed romances. Which is why stories like Gentleman Jim and The Matrimonial Advertisement are some of my favorites of her works. Matthews' writing feels very reminiscent of older classics. If "The Perish Orphans" series has the gothic, eerie moodiness of Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, Then Siren of Sussex is more evocative of a classic Dickensenian novel.

It follows Evelyn Maltravers who’s in London for the season. On the brink of destitution, Evelyn desperately needs to make a wealthy match in order to pave the way for her younger sister's futures. But as a bluestocking wallflower, Evelyn is well aware of her lack of charms. In order to attract a wealthy husband, she hatches a plan to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. But in order to attract the attention of a potential husband, she needs to dress and look the part. This is where she meets Ahemad, a British-Indian habit maker, whose revolutionary designs catches Evelyn’s eye. Together the two form a partnership to showcase their best designs to find Evelyn a wealthy husband, and Ahmad a wilder clientele guarding their hearts in the process.

The story is told through Evelyn and Ahmad’s shifting perspectives which makes for an interesting narrative as we get to explore both sides of British colonialism and the way that it shapes their relationship. In Evelyn we see the privileges of being born into the British upper class, even one that exists on the fringes. Confined within the limitations of her role as head of her household, Evelyn struggles to find a means to secure a future for her sisters in the wake of her older sister’s scandalous elopement. It lends a pseudo-claustrophobic undertone to the novel that never quite dissipates. However, Evelyn is a very dull protagonist, at times even laughably naïve in her worldview, which makes it hard to truly sympathize with her circumstances. Conversely, Ahmad is a more interesting character. He represents all the socio-economic struggles, microaggressions, and discriminations of being a racial minority and an immigrant working class in Britain. However, the novel only skims the surface of colonialism, only hinting at horrors like British soldiers “marrying” Indian women, indoctrinating families into the British lifestyle, forced religious conversions, or even the details of the Jallianwala Bagh massacres, etc.

In much the same way, Evelyn and Ahmad’s relationship feels superficial bordering on insta-love. There is an almost instantaneous attraction, the chemistry palpable in every stolen glance and every accidental brush of finger. The taboo/scandalous nature of their relationship drives the narrative tension. But their socio-economic, racial, and cultural differences set up various obstacles and narrative threats that are never fully realized. Seemingly insurmountable conflicts are easily resolved. There are cramped conversions on colonialism and colonial guilt with an attempt to highlight the impossibility of their relationship and yet the happily ever after never quite truly feels earned. With the writing style I almost wish this didn’t attempt to subvert the genre and ended as a tragedy instead.

Mimi Matthews’ writing has the kind of evocative quality to it that instantaneously transports the reader into the streets of London’s East End. The world building is fairly new as most of the action takes place on the fringes of London society. Unlike most historical romances, Evelyn and Ahmad fall in love in the cramped backroom of his Tailor shop, across racing tracks, and while browsing for books in closed bookstores. They exist on the fringes of society and these marginal spaces are described so vividly that you can almost smell the musty smell of old second hand books and cloth or leather. I just wish I could see more of it.

I struggled writing a review for this book. Sirens of Sussex has all the potential for being a truly outstanding novel in the genre. It had the promise of something new and no one is more disappointed that it failed to live up to the expectations I had built for this book in my head. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 25 books1,079 followers
June 8, 2021

Mimi Matthews' trademarks of unparalleled emotional resonance and deft world-building are used to full grandeur in The Siren of Sussex. An intricately painted and lovingly researched world of tailoring and horsemanship play canvas to all of the intense chemistry and luscious slow-build romance Matthews' readers adore. More still, The Siren of Sussex is a welcome treatise on the nature of belonging. Marvellously crafted, Evelyn and Ahmad's world is ripe with nuanced social perceptions and characters that winnow heart-deep. At times passionately intelligent and achingly vulnerable, The Siren of Sussex is destined to dazzle readers of Evie Dunmore and Harper St. George.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,192 reviews339 followers
March 18, 2022
Mimi Matthews has done it again and this is the reason why she is my favorite author. The characters are incredibly engaging and the story is so immersive, adorable, hilarious, and so much scandal! I absolutely enjoyed it! The Siren of Sussex is probably going down as one of my favorites by her. I really enjoyed the diversity and this definitely makes for a great start of the series. Please give me more. Do not miss this one.
Profile Image for Hannah B..
881 reviews1,315 followers
February 24, 2022
✨His dresses got more action than he did because they were touching all up on her and shit and he was decidedly not touching all up on her and shit✨

This longest ride of my life and there were barely even horses I am just so tired. This could be 3⭐️ because I didn’t inherently hate anything about it, but when I’m so desperate to finish a book and am that painfully bored, it can’t get away with 3⭐️s. Literally nothing happens in this book. And it was a 14 hour audio! Torture.

Okay even removing the lack of steam, this book could’ve definitely been a YA Historical (less romance and more character building, life journey, coming of age moments).

The characters just feel so young and there’s just no real driving force behind anything anyone is doing (just feels like a snapshot of a normal day for these characters rather than finding ourselves amidst a story/ something unusual for them).

Low angst yes, but there’s zero chemistry so it doesn’t work here. Steam doesn’t always = chemistry either so no it’s not that I’m just a salty wench (which I AM but just not at 10:26PM). I think the narrators also make them sound young.

She just rides (not races) horses wearing his dresses but she’s unique bc she’s not a courtesan (woulda been more interesting). The concept was cool but the execution is so wonky. The potential of him being her dressmaker and getting to feel her up haunts me. It’s happened a bit but again it feels like a high school crush

To sum this book up: In any other romance, upon hearing the phrase “his interest was aroused,” I’d be all Heheheheheheh that’s not the only thing aroused but here I’m just like damn he really is just neutrally interested in what she’s talking about 😭

Overall, I didn’t care about any plot line in this story and that coupled with the lack of steam found my attention wandering to the local bar to forget about it. It had components of a compelling story but felt very disjointed. When you don’t capitalize on sexy tailoring excursions, you’ve lost me and you’ll never find me again as I’ve changed my name and dyed my hair and started going by Lil Jo. It seems if you already like the author then you’ll probably like this one. As I had never heard of the author before, I could claim no comfort.

⭐️⭐️.25/5 -🌶/5

Thank you to the publisher for giving me a free copy of this book!
Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
735 reviews
January 14, 2022
All the Stars 🌟 (Victorian HR, class and race difference, Indian/POC working-class beta hero, clean but sensual romance, friends to lovers)

I didn't know it was possible But, I have to admit that Mimi Matthew outdid her prior works with her latest release. Needless to say, this one is well researched and well-written because of course it is, but when I say Miss Matthew 'outdid' herself, I mean completely outshined.

1. The Hero, Ahmed Malik is now my fav beta hero of all time.
2. I couldn't choose between the H and h. Both are smart, resourceful, hardworking and earnest to their siblings.
3. I always thought l, I didn't mind that Miss Matthew writes clean romances but for the first time I understood that clean romances could be titillating too.

Set up

Evelyn Maltravers comes from Sussex. After her parent's death and her sister's elopement, at 23 she is compelled to formulate a plan to search for a well-off husband who can take care of her four younger sisters.
She is convinced that she has no chance of making a great impression at the ballroom but horseback is a completely different matter. And, as per her, she has only two passions in life: horses and fashion. She is well-equipped with the first but needs the help of an imaginative tailor with her riding habit.
And, then came Ahmed Malik, to her rescue.

Ahmed Malik-The king of betas

He is handsome, he came from India at 15, struggled and did odd jobs to take care of himself and his cousin Meera. Learned to tailor and inspire himself to become the best in the trade. He is imaginative with fabrics, colours and designs. Faces racism every day, struggles with his identity as an Indian man in Britain. However, nothing can stop him from achieving excellence with the dresses he makes.

Evelyn-the true equestrian

"First, it’s a wallflower, then it’s bluestocking, and then it’s an old maid or spinster. I don’t wish to be filed away in a neat little category, labelled and dismissed by society as if I weren’t a person full of mysterious complexities. I don’t even know the full depth and breadth of what I am yet—or what I’m capable of. How can a man? How can anyone?”
Do, I need to say more….

The allure of forbidden romance

IMO, there is nothing more captivating and awe-inspiring than forbidden romances. They both feel the tug but she can't choose love over the future of her siblings. And, with his background, he can't even think of imagining any possibility with her. They both have to think about their siblings and future before Love.

"Of what she might mean to him if circumstances were different. If they were of the same race and class. But possibilities were just that. Things that might be, not things that were."

POC/Indian Representation

See, I am an Indian reader who loves reading Historical romances most of them are primarily set in Britain. To ask for diversity in these books is such a big thing that I don't even dare ask for correct representation.

A bit of fact check, looking at colonial times with the perspective of natives, to see the plight of unwilling 'foreigners', racism during the time is something no historical romance reader wants to read about or more accurately no HR author(exception-KJ Charles) wants to write about.

I don't want to bother but glossy pictures of exotic colonies in HR makes me cringe. Normally, I skip those pages just to avoid seeing 'Their versions' of Colonialism or POC. But, this book was so well-crafted that the characters didn't only look like Indians living in Britain but felt too.

This book has all my heart. Highly recommended to every HR reader.

P.S- I miss not reading ' Parish Orphans of Devons' before this book because I would have to see Ahmed(H)'s past.
Profile Image for oitb.
664 reviews12 followers
January 31, 2022
Totally bummed, but this just did not work for me. Spoilers ahead.

1. This book needed a much tighter focus. There was so much going on — Victorian fashion, equestrianism, spiritualism, taking care of family, and, oh yeah, RACISM AND COLONIALISM TOO. The story also has the burden of setting up characters that will appear in the rest of the series, while also hinting at the love interests for many of those characters, and everything taken into consideration and you've just got a thousand topics the author needed to cover ground on. She flitted from topic to topic and it was hard for me to care about any one thing.

The book was simultaneously too slow and too long. I'm an editor by day so I come at this with a certain professional bias, but in my opinion, many, many books in this genre do not need to be over 300 pages. 350 if we're being generous. But this one was almost FOUR HUNDRED pages and it was just not a 400-page story. My entire experience reading it during the first half was, "Oh my god, we're still only at 30%?" and my experience reading the back half was, "Oh my GOD, how are there still ONE HUNDRED pages left?"

2. I've only read one Mimi Matthews before this one and when I first read her, I was like, "Oh yeah, Mimi Matthews is legit." Her writing was haunting and beautiful, wistful and restrained. I ... didn't feel that much here. I don't know if this is just a "Yeah, she usually does write like this, you just happened to have very little experience reading the rest of her work," OR if it was a thing she had to adapt since this is her first (?) traditionally published book. I don't know what it is about Berkley, but I feel like a good chunk of their romance writers adapt this everyman voice, where the writing often strips out subtlety, makes things super obvious, and I dunno, I don't like it.

3. Another thing I a HUGE issue with is that I really resent that the racist English people in this book were shitty flat caricatures, and then all the "good" English people were magically enlightened, no conflicted prejudiced thoughts at all. I do not believe for a second that an Evie type would be as open-minded as she was towards Ahmad, with no complicated internal thoughts at all towards people who are not white. Nothing about her upbringing tells me that she would've interacted with POC on the regular, enough to have her be as open-minded as she is. I would've preferred a gray protagonist who starts off having potentially problematic thoughts on race and colonialism and then through their exposure to POC, question everything that they used to think. It was ridiculous to me that Evie was THIS woke. I resent this lack of nuance because it makes it seem like being racist is either "being racist" and "not being racist."

I'm still going to read on, though, because I really like the idea of the next book's characters. And I'll also go through Mimi's backlist, much of which I've hoarded. But this was just not the book for me.
Profile Image for Lauren (thebookscript).
745 reviews340 followers
November 21, 2022

Where oh where have you been all my life. The Siren of Sussex is a rich historical romance full of blue stocking equestrians, handsome men with deft hands and habit making talent and historical undertones on class, race and the marriage mart.

I must say that Ahmed stole the show for me. I absolutely loved that he was this off limits habit maker. His immediate connection with Evelyn makes him start to question what his future could be like despite their class and racial divides.

The romance is slow burn but absolutely beautiful and believable. It is one built upon attraction yes…but cemented between admiration and respect. But hats off because even though this is closed door…the chemistry and physical connection between these characters was sizzling.

Mimi just is such a fluid writer. I loved the historical atmosphere and she really made 1862 come alive. It was full of fun elements that you don’t see such as spiritualism and I loved how we got to see England and it’s flaws through an Indian dressmaker and his push to make something of himself in a society who only tried to keep him down. The research on historical clothing really shined and I loved this aspect and the passion put behind each set of clothing.

This is first book in her Belles of London series but it only made me want to read book two immediately after…so I’ll be picking that one up ASAP.
Profile Image for Nabilah.
459 reviews142 followers
November 3, 2022
I started reading this book when the UK received its first non-white/Indian prime minister ( I thought, "how wildly appropriate!"). This book features an interracial romance between Evelyn, an English lady and Ahmad Malik, a half-English/half-Indian dressmaker in London (if you've read A Modest Independence, you would have met him and gotten to know him a little bit).

Evie has to go to London for one season to find a wealthy and titled lord for a husband. She has to make a good match since her older sister, the renowned beauty in the family, ran off with the boy next door (a country squire's heir). Her family is impoverished gentry and has to set the tone since she has three younger sisters. She knows she isn't particularly accomplished in the drawing room arts, but she's a terrific rider. She decided to showcase her horse-riding talent but would need the dresses to go with it. That's how she met Ahmad, who is an upcoming dressmaker. So far, he has been making dresses for courtesans and the like. He is trying to get his dresses to be worn by ladies from the ton.

It was a mutual attraction from the instant they met. I liked how Ms. Matthews plays up the sexual tension (Evie would have to strip her outer clothing and only wear her chemise and drawers when Ahmad wants to get her measurement, the accidental touches, all of which ramp up the sexual tension). I think some readers might be disappointed since there is no payoff since there are only kisses in this book. I wasn't bothered, although I think it would be interesting to read if she ever decided to include more explicit physical intimacy scenes in her future books.

I loved both characters. Ahmad, with his sense of not belonging anywhere since he is half English/half Indian and the fact that he came from lowly beginnings while Evie is a gentleman's daughter. He doesn't want Evie to be tainted by the same prejudice that dogged him all his life if Evie is with him. I think racism is well-portrayed here. Evie struggled with her sense of duty to her family and her love for Ahmad. She wanted to honour both. I liked the parallel between herself and her older sister. Her older sister abandoned her family to be with her lover (without the benefit of marriage, mind you, as the squire would cut off his allowance if he married her). Evie wanted to do right by both.

The writing is beautiful and descriptive. It has many descriptions of clothes, which might put some readers off, but I loved it. The added element of spiritualism enriches the book (read the author's footnote, my friends!). The twist on how Evie and Ahmad can be together is believable and unexpected.

Overall, a fantastic beginning to a new series!
Profile Image for Alissa Baxter.
Author 12 books278 followers
April 27, 2021
This book touched my heart and I believe it is my favourite of Mimi Matthews' books (although it is hard to choose a favourite!). The Siren of Sussex is such a tender, beautiful love story. Evelyn Maltravers (Evie) is a bluestocking who needs to rescue her family from ruin. She decides that the only way to attract the attention of a suitor in London is to shine on horseback in haute couture. And so she approaches Ahmad Malik, a handsome half-Indian tailor who designs beautiful riding habits.

Matthews writes with such sensitivity about Ahmad's position in society and his feeling that he doesn't belong anywhere. She touches gently on this theme, bringing it to the reader’s attention in such a way that it doesn't become the overriding theme of the story, which remains the developing relationship between Evie and Ahmad.

So many obstacles are in their path and they almost seem insurmountable at times so it was wonderful to see how Matthews brings all the threads of the plot together in the end.

The primary feeling I had while reading this book was one of huge empathy for Ahmad and his half-Indian protégée Mira, who lives a very isolated life. Matthews shows clearly, yet subtly, their deep pain and how Ahmad's remedy for it is to throw himself into his work to forget his loneliness. But once he meets Evie, he cannot ignore the feelings she ignites within him. And the scenes where he measures Evie for her habits... well, let's just say that I needed to fan my cheeks at times. The chemistry between Evie and Ahmad is combustible! It fairly burns through the page.

Evie is a sensitive, intelligent woman who is the ideal match for Ahmad. She is courageous and caring as she navigates a difficult path in an era where it was not easy to cross racial boundaries. I love this quote from Evie: “It’s not his responsibility to educate me. The ignorance is mine, and so must be the remedy for it.”

And this is amazing: “Wonderful things didn’t happen because one was cautious. They happened because one dared.”

I am delighted that Mimi Matthews dared to write this wonderful love story.
Profile Image for Bonnie DeMoss.
832 reviews97 followers
January 26, 2022
Fans of Victorian romance will love this first book in a new series, The Belles of London. Using a delightful combination of fashion and horses, Mimi Matthews draws the reader in right away. Evelyn is an incredibly strong protagonist, and her determination to save her family is admirable. The point of view changes between Evelyn and Ahmad, and this makes the book stronger in my opinion. The fine points of Victorian fashion have been well researched, and the author’s knowledge of horses is obvious. Ahmad’s fight to succeed in both business and love in a prejudiced society is well told. The cast of characters is so likable and makes the story even more enjoyable. I certainly hope we’ll be seeing them again in this series. The romance is not rushed or overdone, and the inclusion of horses just puts it over the top for me. The Siren of Sussex jumps all the hurdles and gallops into your heart with a romance that should not be missed.

I received a free copy of this book from Austenprose Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Christi (christireadsalot).
1,896 reviews569 followers
November 16, 2021
The Siren of Sussex is the first book in a new series, Belles of London, by author Mimi Matthews. Evelyn Maltravers, a 23-year-old bluestocking equestrienne needs to rescue her family from ruin. Evie knows she needs to marry to secure her future and that of her 4 younger sisters and sets out from their country home to London. Evie must attract a suitor by standing out and decides to stick to her strong suits: horseback riding…in haute couture. Enter talented London tailor, Ahmad Malik, who Evie enlists to design her riding habits.

You can tell the author did a lot of research for this book and the author note at the end when all the history was so intriguing; the “Pretty Horsebreakers”, famously beautiful courtesans who were the most accomplished equestriennes riding down Rotten Row, Victorian spiritualism following Prince Albert’s death, Indians in Victorian England, and of course Victorian fashion. This read more as historical fiction to me, very light on any romance. I knew going in it was closed-door (they only kiss a couple times), but I just needed more depth to their romance and chemistry to believe in the couple. There is some closeness while he’s draping and measuring her for fittings, with a couple hand-holding moments and a kiss snuck in, but that just didn’t feel like enough for me to believe they’re in love. A lot of their conversations we don’t see any dialogue, are just told after it happened making it hard to connect to this couple.

That said, there were definitely things I liked in this. Ahmad is half-Indian living in London (the author draws on her own Indian heritage) and struggles with his identity of where he “fits in”, he’s too English for Indians and too Indian for the English. His relationship with his cousin Mira and the conversations of British colonialism in India was done really well. If you enjoy Victorian fashion, there is a lot of that described in this read. Ahmad sews hidden pockets into Evie’s clothes so she has a place for her spectacles. Evie rides her Spanish-bred Andalusian, Hephaestus, often while visiting with her friends in the park (these ladies I’m sure will be getting books in the series next). The hype around Victorian spiritualism was interesting, the occult society and their interest in astrology, crystallomancy, spirit realm, psychic energy, etc.

Thank you to the publisher (Berkley) for an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts & review. The Siren of Sussex will be out January 11, 2022
Profile Image for Heidi (MinxyD14).
380 reviews93 followers
October 10, 2022
Second read/listen in anticipation of tomorrow's release of The Belle of Belgrave Square

An exceptional read/listen. So well researched, unique and engaging. This is possibly the best work of Mimi Matthews to date. Her love for all things equestrian, especially her own Andalusian, as well as the Victorian era really shone through in every word. It was impossible to not fall in love with both Evie and Ahmad. This is an incredibly tender love story set among the struggles of class and colonialism in Victorian times. I truly felt the passion the author poured into this book.

Sadly, I went into this having not enjoyed A Modest Independence so I was worried about revisiting those characters. There was no need for concern and now I cannot wait for The Belle of Belgrave Square

Highly recommend the Audible version. The dual POV narrators are superb and a real treat in this genre.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,909 reviews852 followers
January 11, 2022
Evelyn Maltravers is in London for the season, determined to make an advantageous match. Her family’s future depends on it. Evie means to make a grand debut, but not much sets her apart except her riding. Evie just needs a set of riding habits that equal her skill and her gorgeous horse to make an impression. So, she sets off to find the designer of the splendid riding habits worn by the notorious courtesans, known as the Pretty Horsebreakers. His designs transform the ordinary into extraordinary.

Ahmad Malik is trying to make a name for himself in women’s fashion, but being half Indian, half English has made this a struggle. Ahmad has a singular talent; he just needs the right person to showcase his creations. Evelyn Maltravers doesn’t seem like someone who would capture much attention with her countrified day dress and spectacles, but upon closer inspection Ahmad finds himself enchanted by Evie, and he knows she’s the one.

There’s an instant spark of attraction between Evie and Ahmad’s at their first meeting and it’s fanned at every fitting with every touch igniting heat between them. It was a slow burn but oh-so-swoony! But it’s not just the physical attraction that draws. Evie is like no other Englishwoman and treats Ahmad like an equal, and Ahmad sees Evie’s true beauty within and out. There are obstacles to their romance with the differences in class and race, and I wondered how it would all work out. However, once Evie and Ahmad realized that no other would do, it all came together brilliantly. Not without some bumps, but nothing that felt insurmountable.

I’ve read a couple of Mimi Matthews’ romances in the past and absolutely loved them, so I was so excited to read The Siren of Sussex, which did not disappoint! She brings the past to life with her beautiful writing and rich characterization. I rooted for Evie and Ahmad’s HEA from the beginning!

I’m thrilled to see the next story, The Belle of Bellgrave Square, will be focused on Julia Wychwood and Captain Blunt after all their interactions!

A copy was kindly provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sarah Louise.
824 reviews390 followers
April 25, 2023
Hello, Mimi Matthews! Being somewhat new to historical romance, I now totally understand why this author is so beloved. There were so many intricate details within this story that completely brought London 1862 to life.

Evelyn Maltravers is a bluestocking equestrian that rivals all men. On a search for a husband, she hopes to use her riding abilities to make the perfect debut and attract a suitor. To capture said attention, she obtains help from habit maker Ahmad Malik of Conduit Street.

And what a unique partnership this was! Ahmad was such a respectful gentlemen, simply wanting to make a name for himself as an Indian dressmaker in London fashionable society. It was absolutely fascinating to unravel this career and its personal politics.

As for the romance, it stems from pure attraction but develops into the loveliest slow burn. With race and class differences between them, there's a somewhat forbidden tone, both aware a romantic relationship isn't beneficial for either. And of course with Ahmad's line of work, there were many borderline improper touches and close quarters that really amped up the tension!

This ending was so satisfying! I loved the author's note included at the end explaining the moments of history inspiration was gathered from. Amazing! I can't wait to continue in this series.

(heat level: kissing only)
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,658 reviews3,254 followers
January 30, 2022
4 Thinking Outside The Box Stars
* * * * Spoiler Free
I happen to love a book that has information to impart to the reader that they wouldn't already know. Mimi Mathews did all of the necessary research needed to make this authentic and then added her creativity to make us love these characters and their dreams.

Due to the "Times", people couldn't pursue the lives or careers they wanted easily.
We have a woman who wants society to take her seriously, to marry well, and due to her "bluestocking background, the only way to draw the needed attention of the men she is interested in...is to excel and be noticeable while riding her horse.

Enter our fella who is a talented designer of equestrian wear. He is half Indian and this causes society to think of him as someone who provides a service...not the man he is. They cannot ignore him, though, due to the amazing outfits he creates and so he is allowed to interact with all levels.

It is the meeting and interactions of these two that cause all of the interest...and of course, they start to see each other differently than they ever thought they would.

The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London, #1) by Mimi Matthews The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London, #1)

A gifted copy was provided by author/publisher for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Mei.
1,882 reviews424 followers
February 8, 2022
I loved the unusual MCs! And they were intelligent enough to understand and honestly discuss the problems they were facing if they get together! It was such a lovely thing!

There was just the right amount of musing, but when they admitted their love for each other, they put together their heads to make it possible to live together!

I must admit that the heroine was the most positive one, since the hero had a lot of doubts. But his hesitation was understandable since he's ... Indian! And that was another thing that I enjoyed in this story!

Anyhow, a well worth reading! :)
Profile Image for Jultri.
1,097 reviews6 followers
May 25, 2022
3.25/5. Unusual romance between a tailor with dress-making aspirations of Indian heritage and a bluestocking past her first blush with aspirations of making a good marital match in her first and possibly only season.

He is her fairy godmother, transforming her from a bespectacled, mousy nobody to (almost) belle of the ball while she in turn became his muse. It started with a commission for a flattering riding habit and became a wardrobe makeover. In doing so, he hopes that she will be his ticket to widespread recognition amongst society ladies, allowing him to finally succeed in a career he embarked on as a child and which had kept him and his cousin afloat when they first arrived in London. Warning: This fairy tale features inappropriate sexual attraction between the fairy godmother and Cinderella. There is no wicked stepmother and no chubby, helpful mice, but there are helpful new friends - fellow equestrian ladies who I assume will feature as leading ladies in subsequent books.

I want to like this book more. The premise is unique and Ahmad makes a strong and commanding leading man however, truth be told, I was bored. The book dragged on in the middle and Evie lacks a captivating personality. Being a splendid rider just isn't enough. The dialogue lacks sparkle. A bit of bantering would be nice. The introduction to the other ladies failed to get me excited about their future books. Hartford however is intriguing as potential leading man. The book is well researched enough as expected from Matthews, especially the bit about the interest in the occult and the boy medium, but frankly, it really added nothing to the romance. So for me, decent but I have read better by the author.
Profile Image for Littlebookworm.
235 reviews79 followers
April 22, 2022
Evelyn Maltravers has one aim in mind as she enters London society, and that is to find herself a suitable husband, not only to be able to support herself, but also her sisters back home. Endeavouring to play to her strengths, she is certain the best place to showcase herself is on horseback, but to ensure she captures the attention she is after, she approaches Ahmad Malik, habit-maker for the infamous Pretty Horsebreakers. No sooner does she meet him however, than do all her ambitions of a grand match go out the window! However, if Evelyn and Ahmad wish to be together, they must first face the obstacles that set them apart.

Set in Victorian England, this was my first book by Mimi Matthews. What particularly drew me to the story was the idea of a cross-cultural romance in this time period, as Ahmad Malik is a character of half Indian descent on his mother's side. Certainly I think this brought quite a unique feel to the story that set it somewhat apart from other Victorian romances that I have read. Ahmad's background, together with the fact that he is a tailor, also mean there are genuine obstacles to his and Evie's being together, particularly if they do not wish to ruin their reputation in society, and I like it when the reasons keeping a couple apart feel genuine as opposed to contrived for the plot's sake.

Evie, as the heroine, was a likable character, a bit of a bluestocking, who has a love for horses and who has taken it upon herself to ensure the well-being of her family by trying to make a good match. This is all the more important after her elder sister, the one they had all been relying upon to marry well, caused rather a scandal by eloping with her lover. As such it is now down to Evie to do what had been expected of her sister. I thought it was interesting to see Evie begin to fall in love with Ahmad, and in doing so appreciate perhaps how her sister must have felt and understand better the choice that she made. Where before she was somewhat resentful of the decision that her sister made, her own experience brings her closer to her sister. However, at the same time, Evie is never reckless, always trying to think of ways that she can marry the man she loves whilst still avoiding ruin, and thereby thinking of her family too. I also liked Evie's ingenuity, and the fact that she is not afraid to be bold and daring when required.

Ahmad too was a likable and interesting character. He is a talented tailor and wishes to become a dress-maker for fashionable society; yet we see the obstacles and prejudices that he is faced with in order to realize his dream. Mimi Matthews fleshes out his backstory quite well, and highlights the loneliness of his existence as an 'outsider' who doesn't feel a sense of belonging anywhere, neither in England, nor in India. His past story is quite tragic, and it is easy to appreciate why he is so cautious in pursuing his relationship with Evie, knowing that by marrying him, she too would be facing the same sort of isolated existence.

The relationship between Evie and Ahmad is generally well depicted, though is possibly guilty of a bit of insta-love. Still despite the fact that they do seem immediately drawn towards each other, Mimi does flesh out their relationship through the course of the story, building a genuine friendship and understanding between the two, as well as playing on the simmering attraction between them. This is a clean romance, but Mimi manages to capture the longing between them particularly well.

There are a host of colourful supporting characters, including Evie's Uncle and his associate Lady Arundell, who takes Evie under her wing. They are both spiritualists, and this aspect of the plot, whilst somewhat unusual, was actually worked into the story quite well. I also liked the group of like-minded friends that Evie makes, and believe the next book in the series follows Julia's story, which I will be interested to read when it comes out.

Fashion features quite a lot in the story, given Ahmad's occupation, as does Evie's passion for horses, something she shares with her friends. The majority of the plot takes part in London, but I liked that as well as the more fashionable high society areas, we also got a taste of the poorer areas of London and life in these parts. The story juggles themes of the role of women, class and race in this time period well.

The book did perhaps feel longer than it needed to be and at times felt a bit repetitive, however, overall this was an engaging read with an interesting mix of plots and themes, and I look forward to the next in the series.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books346 followers
January 11, 2022
Already a fan of the writing style and careful historical research that is given to romances rich in well-developed characters and plots, I was salivating for this new Belles of London series. Mimi Matthews’ stories are only a recent find for me, but each has presented something fresh and exciting. I hadn’t gotten far into this first in series release to see The Siren of Sussex, an equestrian lover’s dream romance, would be no exception.

Evelyn Maltravers entered the dimly lit shop in Conduit Street.” Loc 72
With a great deal riding on her success, Evelyn Travers has a daring plan. She wishes to establish herself as The woman equestrian of London and has approached the best tailor to create a riding habit to surpass all others. If only she can talk the fascinating and handsome Mr. Malik, into taking a chance on her plan.
Ahmad Malik is struck by the dowdily dressed Bluestocking who comes to his shop. He is already taking a big gamble by designing for the courtesan riders and is on the cusp of having his dress designs noticed by high society ladies. He has six months to earn what is needed to make his own independent start with clients. His half-Indian heritage does him no favors in this regard. He really shouldn’t be taking a chance on an unknown, but observing the woman ride sent his fashion-designing imagination soaring:
“There was an inherent grace to her riding. A Feminine ebb and flow that had riveted his gaze. It was almost sensual, the way the lines of her body had been in harmony with every movement. Still and sure, with gentle hands and a quiet seat.” Loc 581
And, so a remarkable partnership begins. Evelyn will wear Malik’s designs as she and her gorgeous Andalusian stallion, Hephaestus, take London by storm and her trendsetting will be the making of his designs.

The Siren of Sussex brings several elements into play and right in the beginning chapters. Ms. Matthews takes the familiar theme of poor, Bluestocking heroine coming to London and needing to make a successful match to save her family and gives it a tantalizing twist. Not only are the heroine and hero in something of a gender role reversal of their interests and talents, but so is their class differences with him being working class and her, a gentleman’s daughter. There is the addition of his race, starting as a tradesman in a new line of business, and her family reputation and situation to complicate their social and romantic interactions. And, due to the Prince Regent’s recent death, there is the fascination of Victorian Era spiritualism and Death Rituals added to the mix. It all became rich layers to the plot and added the tension to slowly build as the gently-paced story progresses.

Evie Maltravers is a naturally-gifted horsewoman and it is truly breath-taking when she mounts her horse and rides. Up in the saddle, she is grace itself and gone is the awkward, uncertain debutante, but a confident, skilled woman who captivates. She is pleasantly surprised to encounter a handful of other young ladies of her own ilk who share her need to be something more than a pretty lady in a gown.
Ahmad is equally unique as a hero with artistic talent. He may be a tradesman, but he is just as strong-willed and determined as Evie. He faces the complexity of a man who straddles two worlds and not completely accepted in either when it comes to his heritage and chance at a relationship. Their attraction is electrifying though it remains slow-burn throughout the story as they face down many difficulties that have the potential to drive them apart. It is for intrepid Evie to say, “But wonderful things didn’t happen because one was cautious. They happened because one dared.”
Loc. 6222

Anticipation was high, but this well-crafted, historically authentic, sensual romance of refreshing characters was dynamic. Woman equestrienne and innovative new tailor crashing the class and racial barriers with their smoldering partnership was just the right balance of conflict and romance. This is a fabulous new series for historical romance fans to boost into the saddle, get comfortable, and take it for a long ride.

I rec'd an eARC through NetGalley to read in exchange for an honest review.

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