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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Bilson

The Heiress He's Been Waiting For by Kaitlin O'Riley

Sara Fleming is a poor little rich girl. An ultra-wealthy American heiress, her parents have whisked her away from New York and off to London to prevent her engagement to a man they consider unsuitable. Sara, of course, thinks it's the end of the world. She even contemplates jumping off the ship to drown ‘because then they'd be sorry!’ in the ultimate bratty gesture.

Despite Sara being spoilt, naive and more than a bit of a brat, I felt sorry for her. Nobody would dignify her very legitimate questions with a straight answer, treating her like a young child instead of a woman of twenty. Which pretty much predisposed her to fall for Christopher, since at least he was willing to treat her like an adult.

Told largely from Sara’s point of view, there is an intriguing tonal shift throughout the book. At first, the tone seems breathless, silly and excitable, prone to chattering excitedly about shopping sprees and glittering parties, but as Sara matures and comes to understand the world is much less black and white than she thought, the writing becomes steadier and more thoughtful, Sara taking the time to pause and self-evaluate honestly. Not much caring for what she finds she becomes much more likable as she makes the effort to change.

I have to admit that the breathless style of narration at the beginning of the book got on my nerves, and had it continued throughout, I would definitely have been knocking off a star for it. However, recognising it as a deliberate writing technique designed to mirror the maturation of the heroine throughout the book, I'm more inclined to appreciate the cleverness of it.

There's a rather awkward fact about this book, though, in that there are ‘good poor people’ (from aristocratic backgrounds and it's not their fault they have to marry for money) and ‘bad poor people’ (from common stock and desiring to marry up). It wouldn't be so bad if it was just Sara's cheating, thieving suitor, but there's also two women who are both ‘bad poor people’ which left a nasty taste in my mouth. Especially since in effect, the only three people in the book without aristocratic connections were also the only three ‘bad' people. It came across as very classist, really something to avoid in supposedly egalitarian late Victorian romances. Classism is pretty rife in historical romance in general, but with an American heiress in the mix, I was disappointed to find it here.

Four stars for an enjoyable read, but I wish the classism had been better managed.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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