One of the comforting things about reading romance novels is knowing that they’re going to have a happy ending. The Heiress Effect was interesting because for a while there, I honestly wasn’t sure whether Jane and Oliver would actually be able to put aside their differences long enough to find their “happily ever after” together.
Miss Jane Fairfield is the richest heiress in England, with a staggering £100,000 dowry. She’s also illegitimate and was raised in ignorance of proper society’s rules. Her uncle Titus wants to see her married off as quickly as possible, but she’s desperate to remain with her younger sister, who suffers from inexplicable seizures and has been forced to undergo all sorts of horrendous “treatments” in an attempt to cure them. After a series of faux pas when first entering Society, Jane decides that her safest course of action is to become a laughingstock. After all, what respectable peer wants to marry the heiress in the fuschine dress who just called her host an idiot to his face and (seemingly) didn’t even realize that he was insulted?
Oliver Marshall is the bastard son of a duke, but the circumstances of his birth haven’t thwarted his ambition. He’s vowed to be prime minister one day, and he’ll do anything to get there… or will he? The Marquess of Bradenton has promised to support a voting rights act that, if it passes, will give Oliver the publicity he needs to join the House of Commons, but there’s a price — Bradenton wants Oliver to humiliate Jane. Oliver hates the way everyone laughs behind Jane’s back since it reminds him of the bullying he suffered at Eton, but he decides to get close to her and then decide whether or not to do as Bradenton wishes.
Of course, the more time he spends with her, the more glimpses he sees of her true personality. They start to fall for each other, but he needs a quiet, respectable woman who will be the perfect political wife, and she’s spent too much time playing a role to want to commit to a lifetime of repressing her personality. They part as friends when Titus sends Jane away to live with her uncle, but when she needs his help in a crisis, Oliver doesn’t hesitate to rush to her side. They still have different needs, but a shocking revelation upon the death of his agoraphobic aunt makes him question everything he’s planned for himself. Will Jane fit into his new plans, or has he pushed her away too many times to reconcile?
There’s also a subplot with Jane’s sister Emily, who sneaks out of the house while she’s supposed to be napping to preserve her “delicate constitution.” On one of her treks she meets Mr. Anjan Bhattacharya, a law student from Calcutta, and they quickly strike up a friendship that turns into more. She’s not of age yet, though, and knows that Uncle Titus would never consent to let her marry a Hindu, and he’s leaving Cambridge to start his career in London. Will they be able to wait for each other?
I love that Jane is spunky and gives zero fucks that she’s setting herself up for mockery. Hell, she likes the outrageous fashions that she adopts to give Society palpitations! Oliver is occasionally a bit of a dipshit, but he wants desperately to prove himself and make a difference in the world, so it’s hard to stay mad at him. While I also highly recommend the first book in the Brothers Sinister series, The Duchess War, and the two novellas in the series that precede The Heiress Effect, it definitely works as a stand-alone novel. Courtney Milan is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance writers!
Disclosure: I received an advance reader’s copy of The Heiress Effect from Victory Editing via Netgalley in exchange for my fair review. All opinions are my own.