The Heiress Effect is the second full-length novel in romance rock star, Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series. Miss Jane Fairfield is on a mission to become unmarriageable; however, Jane goes about this in an unexpected and rather entertaining way. Instead of ruining herself (which seems to happen in many historicals) Jane makes herself as irritating and undesirable as she can. Jane dresses outrageously, speaks what’s on her mind and plays dumb. For the most part this strategy works, but it does get her some enemies. Lord Bradenton, a prominent political figure of the ton, thinks that she needs to be taught her place.
Unbeknownst to Jane, Lord Bradenton has assigned Mr. Oliver Marshall the task of taking Jane down several pegs. Oliver is the bastard son of the duke, and as a result, he’s always pandered to the upper echelon in the hopes of getting ahead in his political career. Bradenton promises Oliver that if Jane is ruined in society, he will vote on a bill that Oliver supports. What is rather disheartening is the fact that Oliver fully intends on going through with this plan despite how much he likes Jane and in disregard for his growing attracting for her.
This was another awesome, stunning and emotional read from Milan. I literally tore through the book as soon as I got my hands on it. No one writes emotional romances full of depth like Milan – I am a HUGE fan of hers. What I have liked about the Brothers Sinister series so far is the use of beta heroes, rather than the alpha, rake type trope. These heroes have been flawed and insecure, and it has made for great reading. Oliver in particular was an interesting character. Due to his birth, Oliver has stopped asserting himself and is wiling to do a lot to eventually gain respect and power from the aristocracy. To be honest, this trait wasn’t really attractive, but it was so realistic, and that was what I found refreshing about it. Here we have a hero, who’s really not a hero (at least until the end), instead we get Jane, who is fighting for her younger, epileptic sister. Jane is unwilling to compromise when she realizes that Oliver just might not go to bat for her; she is the strong one. Jane embodied those characteristics that I think are most attributed to male heroes, and as a result, she was a fantastic heroine. I truly loved the dynamic that Jane and Oliver had, and it made for a great story.
What I also found fascinating was the situation with Jane’s younger sister, Emily. Emily has been suffering from “fits” and since she is under the care a of guardian she has been subject to tortuous medical treatments that are supposed to “cure” her. It was frustrating to see how much power her uncle Titus had in subjecting Emily to these treatments to the point that he thought institutionalizing her would be a good idea. In fact, Titus was a interesting character in and of himself. Titus had some pretty bizarre beliefs about femininity, which I found eye opening in a historical. Generally, when I read a historical romance, the characters fall pretty close to their contemporary counterparts, but Titus totally threw this out the window and readers were treated to a very old-school perception of womankind. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but it was interesting and I think it reflected a more realistic picture of the period.
All in all, if you’re looking for a realistic and emotional historical romance, pick up this one or any other Milan book ASAP. She is a fantastic author and this series is great.