First Second. Nov. 2023. 336p. Tr $28.99. ISBN 9781250769350.
Gr 10 Up–Catherine Benson has a reputation; as a result, she knows she’s not likely to find an honorable marriage prospect. So when she receives a proposal from Andrew Davener, whose grim financial status will benefit from her substantial dowry, she doesn’t have much of a choice. The two enter into a mutual agreement not quite knowing what to expect. When they arrive at Andrew’s rundown estate, Catherine falls into a dull routine until one night, she knocks on her husband’s door, inviting intimacy into their relationship. Though their physical attraction is real, their love doesn’t appear to be. Catherine leaves her marriage, fleeing back to her childhood home. When she reflects on her previous amorous affairs and her newfound companionship with Andrew, she starts to question what it is she’s feeling and whether there is hope after all. The cozy, colorful artwork in this Regency-era tale makes this an endearing read that showcases the fashion and landscapes of the time. Though the trope of a marriage of convenience is not original, the story flows well. The few side narratives touched upon could have been developed more, but they highlight LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and mental health issues during the era. The story is mostly tame but includes some intimate drawings that portray nudity and sexual encounters.
VERDICT An enjoyable historical romance, in the vein of Bridgerton, conveyed through quaint drawings with a pleasing color scheme. Content contains mature images that are appropriate for older teenagers.

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