Genre: Historical Romance Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: standalone
Abandoned by her parents in favour of a sea view, middle class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull dinner party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy socialite and enchanting member of the in-crowd.
Through Frances and her friends, Georgiana is introduced to a new world of wild parties, drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely alluring hands, and the sparkling upper echelons of Regency society.
But high society isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the price of entry might be more than Georgiana is willing to pay . . .
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I heard the author talk about this book at YALC and decided it sounded a lot of fun and would give it a try even though this is so very far from my usual wheelhouse. I am glad I did as I very much enjoyed it.
The first thing is to try and describe this book. It is a book that should really come under New Adult, if such a category existed in publishing (situated between Young Adult and Adult.) This means that it feels very much like it’s YA in terms of pacing and style, but in themes and tone it’s older, hence it’s situated in adult in bookshops.
As for the genre, it’s a mashup that pulls it off very well. Imagine a contemporary about trying to fit in with the in-crowd, only to get swept up in their hedonism and excessive indulgence, and excuse away their frankly awful characters because the main character is turning that way too to fit in, rolled into a regency romance. It’s got the same sort of hyper-realistic, over saturated feel of Bridgerton that makes that show fit into its deliberately stylised version of history while also feeling very modern. (It should be noted that both Bridgerton and REPUTATION are not “adding in” people of colour or LGBT+ people “for modern sensibilities” – both groups were very much part of Regency era high society, they’ve just been erased.)
It’s a combination that works so well. It’s a regency romp that manages to encapsulate one facet of historical fiction – using the past to explore the present. This is a book that explores the desire to fit in at any cost with the “in-crowd”, and the consequences of that, as well as sexual assault. All the while it’s just terrific fun and highly amusing.
The hyper-realism part of it extends to the plot that feels like a love letter that’s also poking fun at trope in the historical romance genre (because you cannot poke fun, in my opinion, in a good way without loving the source material.) It takes windswept moors and terrible first meetings and so on are both parodies (by taking them to their excess) and homages all at once.
There is a second book in this world is already out, so I will be jumping in to that at once.
Read my reviews of other books by Lex Croucher: