So much awesomeness, I stayed up until 2 am reading this book. I just couldn't go to bed without knowing that ending. Much like most of Milan's work, angst level is high.
The main romance is between Jane Fairfield, heiress, and Oliver Marshall, aspiring politician. Jane doesn't want to marry but is forced into a situation in which she must appear to be actively seeking a husband while also trying to offend any potential suitors. The social "faux pas" is one long comedy gag, with hideous dresses to match. I loved Jane; the way she works her insults into polite dinner conversation is funny because what she is saying is true. I looked forward to each new dress and how OTT the author's imagination would go in color (and lace - lots and lots of lace). Although Jane was born into wedlock, she is the product of one of her mother's extramarital affairs; her birth father set aside 100,000 pounds for her dowry, making her attractive to titled men looking to shore up their family's finances in spite of those dresses. Also, I loved Jane's friendship with the Johnson twins.
Oliver the son of the series' first couple; although born in wedlock, his birth father is the former duke and his half-brother is the current duke. He is working on an important legislation; this the Reform Act goes through, he can give his step-dad a gift of gratitude for being a father to him - the right to vote. It will also help Oliver move up the political ladder, and hopefully a seat in Parliament. Oliver is a serious beta hero, and there were times in the first half of the book he seems more like a wet blanket. Jane is the one to re-lit the fire in his belly again, although he does remain a beta hero.
Their verbal interactions and physical embraces made their relationship real and Oliver did a proper amount of groveling at the end for my taste. I liked it best when they were working together on a scheme, as they respected each other's talents and brains. You might need a hanky for the scenes of Oliver's grief after his Aunt Freddy died (her story was so nicely woven into the bigger story).
The secondary romance involves Emily (Jane's younger sister) and Anjan Bhattacharyra, a law student at Cambridge. I loved their story, both as individuals and as a couple. I have a special interest in Emily, who has epilepsy ("fits" to use the layman's term from the era). Emily's epilepsy manifests itself differently than what many people think of epileptic seizures. I pretty much cried over the fact that an author really understood the many different types/manifests of epilepsy - from the triggers, to the auras (vision, auditory, and smell), to the seizures themselves, and finally the recovery. It was also realistic that very quack snake oil salesman and "experimental" medicine doctor tried to cure her condition. Anjan knew what he was getting into when he embarked on a relationship with Emily, as she had a seizure during their cute meet - and he wasn't scared off. Emily saw the racism Anjan was forced to endure during their cute meet. Both of them went into their relationship with eyes wide open, despite their youth. I liked the scene with Anjan's mom meeting Emily for the first time. Rock on Emily and Anjan!
5 stars. COYER eligible.