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The Moment Stealer

The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2) - Courtney Milan On the strength of her incredible inheritance, Jane Fairfield is, despite her questionable birth, undoubtedly a catch. Which is normally a terrific thing, except marriage would mean separation from her epileptic little sister Emily, who languishes underneath the dubious care of an overprotective guardian. For once, having incredible amounts of money is more of a hindrance than a boon. So she embarks upon a quest to make herself as unpalatable a marriage choice as possible, with awful manners and hideous gowns. For the most part, it works -- until she meets Oliver Marshall.

Oliver Marshall wants to be somebody, to make a respectable name for himself in Parliament. Being of questionable birth himself, he has long made a practice of being agreeable to everybody to further his ambition. So he certainly can't associate with someone like Jane, whose company is at best an eyesore to everyone around.

And there is the sidestory of Emily, who sneaks away from her gilded cage and ends up in the company of Anjan Bhattacharya, who is proof itself that still waters run deep.

Shenanigans occur, and in the end of course, everything turns out well, as it will in romance novels like this.

Still, what I quite like about Milan's books is that she emphasizes the importance of female friendships. One of the best moments in this book is when the artifice in Jane's false friendship with the two resident mean girls falls away and evolves into something meaningful.

Also, it's terrific that Milan's heroines can see straight into the heart of society and pick it apart. They understand what they find there and are none of them happy about the subordinate role they are forced to play. Their dissatisfaction with settling for the crumbs society allows them drives their actions as much as romance does, and it's a breath of fresh air. Milan writes this kind of conflict so well and with such keen insight, that I find myself enjoying their liberation even more than the love story.