Release Date: Sep 1, 2020
Series: A League of Extraordinary Women
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Penguin Group
Suffragist heroine wanting to take down the patriarchy, check. Unrequited love, check. Enemies to lovers, check. Angry sex… you had me at angry sex.
This book. I’m still unpacking my feelings over this book, but I can say with ease the auburn-haired, Victoria Cross winner, face of angels, Tristan Ballentine has climbed up the ranks of book boyfriend. He hasn’t replaced my ultimate favorite, but it’s damn close. He’s definitely sitting in the second spot.
Why dear reader? Because he does the devil may care act so well, but I know the truth. He’s a romantic.
Let’s rewind for a second. The first book in Evie Dunmore’s League of Extraordinary Women series received a top pick from me, but I held out from the five because it was a slow starter. This book didn’t start out slow, in fact, it came with a bang. Within the first chapter, I had to know what would happen. Dunmore hooked effectively and I had this bone deep urge to watch as Lady Lucinda, the Tedbury Termagant, fighter of women’s rights, fell for our war-time hero Tristan.
There’s this underlying subplot where Lucie, is purchasing half of a printing house and determined to post a suffragist report that could very well tank the house and aggravate half of England. But, to fight the Married Women’s Property Act, she’d do about anything.
Queue the entrance of our hero, Tristan of course already owns a share of this publishing house, bought long before he went to serve in the Queen’s Army. Upon return to England he seeks control of the house for his own books and to work at gaining independence from his father, among other reasons. His father is true snake and honestly, I wished for more punishment upon the man, but we can’t always have what we want. Back to the source of main conflict, when Lucie finds out Tristan is her co-owner in the publishing house, all her plans are ruined… or maybe, they aren’t.
Tristan has always wanted Lucie and he bates her with an offer because he’s a man and thinking with his little head. Lucie of course refuses. She won’t debase herself in such a way, too much risk to her cause, to her standing. She was once a lady, now a spinster disowned secretly by her family. Lucie is… everything. She’s the deepest parts of me, wanting to fight and rally, but also wanting to be seen and loved. It’s a warring duality of want and frustration that pulls her closer to Tristan and encourages her to try and hold back.
I love seeing her fall. I love even more the hero’s little acts of goodness towards Lucie, conducted in secret of course. I don’t want to give any more details because it feels like I’m giving away the adventure of this book. Let me add that the dialogue is biting. Take this exchange:
“I supposed where the chase is the aim, names are but tedious details.”
“I would not know.” He sounded bemused. “I never chase.”
“What a worrying degree of self-delusion.”
He tutted. “Have you not read your Darwin? The male flaunts himself, the female chooses, it has ever been thus. Beware the determinedly chasing male— he is hoping you won’t notice his plumage is subpar.”
“Whereas yours is of course superiorly large and iridescent.”
“I assure you it is not iridescent,” he said in a bland voice.
Annoyance crept hotly up her neck. “The ladies do not seem to mind.”
“My dear,” he murmured. “Do I detect jealousy?”
Now that I think on it more, Tristan is some sort of English Rhett Butler. Swoon. That heavy-handed cockiness with a secret dose of caring is worth spent on someone like Lucie compared to Scarlett. The dialogue and interactions between these two are constantly like this and back and forth that makes you think it will either end in the bedroom or eventually come to blows.
If you love Courtney Milan, Carolyn Jewel, or Miranda Neville I highly recommend you pick up this book.