I don't usually review a lot of (historical) romance here, because, quite frankly, a lot of them don't impress me. There isn't much variation to the formulation of the plot, and although I can like the characters, it never usually goes beyond like and I often forget about them as soon as I go on to the next book. Courtney Milan is usually where those assumptions of mine end. There is always something so compelling about the characters she writes, something different with the plot. In short, her books rarely disappoint me.
This book is unusual because, despite having high hopes for the main couple, I ended up liking the secondary one better. I imagine the reason for this was Oliver was nothing like his adoptive father, who I read about in The Governess Affair. Also because the secondary heroine, Jane's sister Emily, has epilepsy.
The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'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.'
Jane is one of the more fun main heroines I've come across in romantic fiction. She knows she's got the 'marry-me' formula wrong, and does it on purpose to stave off suitors. One of my favorite parts of the book was reading about her fantastically awry gowns- and usually I skip past dress descriptions in romance books (because they bore me). Oliver and Jane's chemistry was off the charts, but... again, I wasn't that in love with Oliver's actions and thoughts.
Emily strikes up an acquaintance with Mr. Anjan Bhattacharya, after escaping her uncle's house to explore a nearby town. As his name suggests, Anjan is of Indian descent, trying to pass his exams with flying colors so he might have influence in England. Emily is unused to having any relationships outside her uncle's dwelling, because her uncle assumes keeping her under lock and key is 'better' for her seizures. If you have any idea what constituted medical care back in the mid to late 1800s, you have some idea of where this story might progress, hence the content warnings.
The Heiress Effect is refreshing. You don't see enough historical romances with people who have medical difficulties, or with spectacularly atrocious dresses. Really, we need more of that, and less of the bodice ripper covers, cave men heroes, and insipid plots you see in almost every other historical. If you love romance, but loathe the boring plots, I recommend adding The Heiress Effect to your TBR pile.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a secondary romance that outshone the first.
Content: Violence (physical abuse), emotional abuse, and sexual content. Recommended for Ages 18+.
Page Count: 280 pages