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Heroine: Jane Fairfield – Heiress, Misfit
Hero: Oliver Marshall – Bastard Son of a Duke, Ambitious
Jane Fairfield is a wealthy heiress with a hefty dowry—a near impossible draw for fortune hunters and titled men who need to fill their coffers. Only Jane has no desire to marry and one very good reason to avoid it at all costs. Jane’s younger sister, Emily, is under the strict and misguided guardianship of their uncle for four hundred odd more days. A life spent suffering confinement and quack doctors and horrific experiments… All because she has uncontrollable seizures. The only way to remain in control of her own fortune – and remain near Emily – is to avoid marriage.
Which she has done so far (and done well) by becoming a social pariah. A misfit and an outcast. Always wearing dresses in unusual (and extremely vibrant) colors, a tendency to talk and talk and talk, and a complete ignorance of social etiquette, well, Jane stands out from the rest of the ton. She’s the girl everyone laughs at and makes fun of… And it broke my heart for her. A situation of her own making, to keep all her suitors away, but a very lonely path nonetheless.
Oliver Marshall knows exactly what that feels like, being the bastard son of a duke. And he has no intention to feel that way ever again. He has ambitions and goals and befriending Jane is counterproductive. But something about her, something besides the garish gowns and her bad social graces, draws him in. He should stay away… but he doesn’t want to. Even when it hurts to see people treating her how they used to treat him. Until he learned to stay quiet instead of speaking up.
Jane and Oliver are two people so afraid of being themselves. They’ve both created these public faces that don’t match the person hiding underneath. Jane is smart and compassionate and brave. So brave. Oliver is dedicated and ambitious and funny. A quiet, sneaky kind of funny. Together they bring out the best and worst in each other. Especially when a no-good Marquess wants Oliver to use Jane to further his political agenda.
The internal struggles Oliver faced were hard to read. To be so driven that you might possibly ruin a woman to get ahead... It could've made him unlikable. Instead, it made him human and it reinforced just how much he cared for her. Jane's struggles weren't any easier. Always alone, always pretending to not care how people laughed and tittered... She has spine. I love that even though her personality was what continued to keep her from being a proper wife prospect for Oliver, she never considered changing. Watching these two fight their desires, battle their own morals, and try to avoid falling in love… It made me smile and laugh and swoon and cry. There were a lot of tears involved in Jane and Oliver’s romance.
Different from other Milan romances, there is a secondary love story happening at the same time. I absolutely adored Emily and Anjan’s romance. Not quite a forbidden love story… but definitely a frowned-upon one. Every time she sneaked out of her window to take a walk with him, my heart melted for her. After everything she had to suffer at her uncle’s hands, she deserved Anjan.
The Heiress Effect is a beautiful love-against-all-odds romance. I have been looking forward to Oliver's story since the epilogue in A Governess Affair and it didn't disappoint. Poignant and touching, the characters managed to reach into my chest and squeeze my heart. Oliver had me crying so easily. While it may not be a bodice-ripper, Milan still manages to create more than enough of the warm and fuzzies we all love. Some will be happy to know that The Heiress Effect is not as political as the first, though it still had a message and an awareness about the time’s social issues. And, with Sebastian's memorable appearances, I'm now desperate for his book.
“You make me uncomfortable,” he murmured. “But not, I expect, the way that you mean.”
”It’s because you’re an absolutely lovely man,” she confessed. And then she heard what she’d said aloud and flushed warmly. “Oh, God. Not that I think you’re attractive.”
That was worse. Far worse.
”I mean, of course I think you’re…”
Worst of all.
She screwed her eyes shut. “Shut up, Jane,” she whispered to herself.
”No.” He drew his thumb along her bottom lip. “Keep talking Jane.”
*ARC was kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review!