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.
Comment: This is the second full length book in the Brothers Sinisters series by Courtney Milan. After the novella Governess Affair which I liked, and the first book The Duchess War which was one of my favorites of last year, here it is the second book.
In this story we have as protagonist Oliver, the half brother to the hero of the first book. He's the son of the governess from the novella. Oliver has set his sights on politics. He wants to be the voice of those who can't speak for themselves and he wants to give some power to those who have none. To do so he has to play his cards well and marry well too, because the perfect wife might be the best accessory to reach his aims.
Jane Fairfield wants to avoid marriage and her tactic is to be as exaggerated and silly as possible to make all men want to be as far away from her as possible. But in this game, she didn't cont on Oliver, someone who is an unexpected friend and ally. Will they see how perfect they are suited after all, despite the idea they might not?
I have to confess this book wasn't as great as The Duchess War, which I thought pretty much perfect. I think what lacked in this story was a better romance story. I thought the romantic relationship between the two protagonists was a bit lacking in passion and strength. I saw how the epilogue proved the HEA happened for real and the path they took towards their love was both sweet and challenging. But I wanted a bit more desperation to the romance story, I wanted to see something a bit more!
I understand how the loe scenes were subtle because it suits the tone of the story and the author's writing style but I wanted a bit more desperation, let's call it that, at the end, where it was too important to keep things to themselves. I liked how Oliver went after Jane after all but his actions were too contained, I guess I'd have liked to see more action at that stage.
The story itself is quite unique. Jane Has a goal, which is to help her sister and not leaving her alone with their uncle because Emily has fits and the uncle is a somewhat mindless person and wants to cure her even if not really aware of what might be done to her. Scars on Emily's arm prove the lack of awareness on his part. So Jane wants to hold on until Emily is of age to marry but until then she tries to be still a gentlewoman but not seriously considered to marry. I liked this idea of Jane's character but of course this demands a lot from her, even if it's amusing at times. But I had the feeling it was more difficult than what she admitted to be the target of jokes and conversation. Still, it's an admirable trait to be willing to sacrifice a part of her identity to help her sister.
I think this is the author's strongest point, how to mold the characters' personality, to give them all the little details of behavior a living person has. Because everyone is shaped differently and acts differently and usually characters are this or that and despite her protagonists being good people, they all have the countless different traits to pt them together, like a normal living person. I found this fascinating because those characters could easily be alive.
Oliver is another proof of this, he is a good person but his thoughts and what he feels isn't just a way to characterize him. I especially found interesting how he says at some point he feels he doesn't belong and why. It's like someone would say it in a conversation, it feels real and pertinent. I think there's much of the author's talent in how the reader sees these things because all authors could make a character say this and not all would manage to portray the same message or the same level of importance to that idea.
I liked the secondary plots and characters too. I liked Freddie a lot, and her fear to leave her house and the solution she found. I think it's brilliant how the author picks all these little things that shape a human being and uses them cleverly to turn her characters into believable people on the page.
I liked all the elements in the novel that gave it depth, like the prejudice against Indians, the way we treat people without knowing we might be rude and inconsiderate, the idea of treating things well too, because what it important to others should be respected as well... many things with apparent no importance but which are key to build up someone's character.
I really like this author's work, liked this story a lot, despite my wishes about the romance and will read more in the future, for sure.