The Heiress Effect is the second novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 21.10.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]
Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, ableism
Jane Fairfield has one mission in her life and that is to remain unmarried for about another 500 days, for the sake of her sister. Since her considerable inheritance may entice men to propose to her though, Jane has to make herself as unattractive as she possibly can. And she is damn good at it, wearing the most outrageous dresses, saying the wrong thing always and generally making a nuisance of herself. Oliver Marshall, on the other hand, has spent his entire life making himself fit in with the rich and powerful, despite being the bastard son of a duke, hoping for a career in politics himself. When his paths cross with Jane, he may have to choose between his ambition, and both of their honor. And Jane really doesn’t make the decision easy for him.
I loved The Heiress Effect in general, and Jane and Oliver in particular. It’s a glorious book the biggest faul of which is its cover that hides the fact that Jane is fat.
After the last book in the series (a novella set between first and second novel) wasn’t so much my thing (which, in true Milan fashion, means that I only enjoyed it a lot and didn’t completely love it), this one had me back to squeeing my way through it. It has a great sense of humor, and it’s highly political about more than one issue (racism! labor rights! ableism! bodily autonomy!), those are the perfect things to sweeten a book for me.
But above all, it’s Jane and Oliver who make the book work. They are great characters, thoughtfully explored by Milan, and they definitely defy expectations. When Oliver is asked to humiliate Jane, his kindness and his ambition go to war, but the whole plot that is set-up like the usual bet-format in a RomCom, just doesn’t play out that way. And Oliver himself does have broody parts, but his kindness and his sense of humor (despite his earnestness) set him apart from the usual broody romance hero.
And Jane, I don’t have enough words to describe her. I simply loved her and the way she sticks to who she is, even if she loses herself a little for a while there. And how the narrative rewards her for being herself and showing herself to others as well. Her relationship with the twins also goes against what we’d expect from the genre conventions. Her relationship with her sister Emily is also great, meaning that Jane is firmly embedded with a circle of female friends, which I also liked.
As a special bonus, Emily gets her own wonderfully sweet love story that had me swooning just as much as Jane and Olive. It rounds off a really wonderful read that gave me everything I hoped for in the book.