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by Amita Murray

Pub Date: May 14th, 2024
ISBN: 9780063296527
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

A court musician is offered a fortune, but only if she finds a husband first.

Anya Marleigh is grateful to have more independence than most women, even if she’s a bit lonely. As a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, her primary role is to be available for “impromptu musical evenings.” Because she’s the illegitimate daughter of the late Earl of Beddington and his Indian mistress, she’s unlikely to marry, and with little contact with her family, one of her only acquaintances was the Dowager Countess Budleigh, until that lady’s recent passing. Then Anya is shocked to learn that she’s been left the bulk of the dowager’s considerable fortune, provided she marry before her 25th birthday, which is in just a few months. Along with this deadline, she’s assigned a trustee: Lord Damian Ashton, a Jamaican English gentleman who, like her, is not fully accepted in society. Damian and Anya have good reason to be suspicious of each other, and they get off on the wrong foot, although they can’t deny the sudden attraction between them. But with so much money at stake and the rest of the Budleigh family obsessed with claiming it, mysterious and troubling incidents begin to crop up in Anya’s life, putting her in danger even as she and Damian continue to explore their attraction. The second book in Murray’s Marleigh Sisters series can stand alone, and has many intriguing elements, but unfortunately, the plot is often undermined by clunky writing and uneven pacing. In addition, though the chemistry between Anya and Damian is considerable (and spicy), their connection makes the misunderstandings that come between them hard to understand. Despite this, the book is effective, as Anya and Damian’s love story explores the relationship between family and love from several different perspectives, as well as the impact of the British Empire on those caught between London and its many colonies. Healthy dashes of witty dialogue and complex characterization do much to keep the story engaging, and there’s a lot to be enjoyed by historical romance readers looking for a new approach to beloved tropes.

A clunky but compelling society-adjacent historical romance.