by Harper St. George
Publication: January 26, 2021
Series: The Gilded Age Heiresses #1
Evan Sterling is the Duke of Rothschild. Along with the new title, he also inherited his father’s debt. To fix his estate and settle his debts, he will need to wed an heiress. Luckily for him, his mother has found him the perfect duchess, Violet Crenshaw. However, it isn’t Violet he wants but her older sister August. Knowing her sister is unwilling to go through with the betrothal, August sets out to rid Evan of the notion while unaware that he has his eyes set on her.
The first half is by far my favorite as the chase between Evan and August ensues, and passion sparks between them. In the second half, the book slows down a bit to provide an opportunity for August and Evan to better connect–it does drag a bit in the middle. August begins to realize she is not immune to what she believed in other girls to be the silliness of love, and Evan realizes he’s never wanted a wife until August. They are well-matched. August is unlike many women of her time: business savvy, an independent thinker, and unafraid to speak her mind. One of my favorite parts is when she introduces herself to Evan and extends her hand for a handshake rather than offering it to him palm down for a kiss.
Evan was more, and better, than I expected. He is a pretty face with a fancy title, but he also loves a challenge, especially the one he finds in August. His dire financial needs are reason enough to bypass her wishes against an arranged marriage, but he respects her and wants her to want him too. I fell for him when he was adamant that he had no desire to change her and fully supported her endeavors. Evan and August are two characters who complement each other well. Their views are certainly ahead of their times, at least regarding the role of women.
While I did not particularly like Mr. and Mrs. Crenshaw, the love between siblings August, Violet, and Maxwell was a highlight. It’s nearly enough for me to want to read the next two books. It was refreshing to have Violet and August get along so well, both confiding and supporting each other when the suggestion of a betrothal is made. Maxwell’s role here is minor, but he made me believe in brotherly affection in historical romances again. He doesn’t just protect his sisters but value them beyond what their marriages could afford the family. Their affection for each other is clear, especially as they band together against the arranged marriages. I love when siblings all love each other.
The plot was simple with its focus on August’s attempts to dissuade Evan from pursuing a betrothal. At times it was repetitive with her constant refusal, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book with much of it due to the chemistry between August and Evan. It was well on its way to a 4-star review when the third act inserted unnecessary obstacles. Even as it appeared, I was still holding out for an ending that would make my heart explode, but instead, it fizzled, right along with that 4th star. I was disappointed in the HEA I got when I was hoping for passion and groveling. The book held so much promise, but I was left unsatisfied.