The Siren of Sussex

Berkley. (The Belles of London, Bk. 1). Jan. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9780593337134. pap. $16. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Evelyn Maltravers must set herself apart to make an advantageous marriage and secure her impoverished family’s future. Unfortunately, her only skill is riding, so she hires a tailor to create incomparable riding habits to draw the ton’s eye when she’s on horseback. Ahmad Malik is determined to become a well-known dressmaker for women, so he accepts Evelyn’s commission for riding habits and, eventually, gowns. Both Evelyn and Ahmad must rely on each other for success in a world determined to slight them, and when an enemy tries to destroy Ahmad’s business, Evelyn uses her ingenuity to save her family, her horse, and a future with Ahmad.
VERDICT Matthews (Gentleman Jim) deftly underscores racial and gender discrimination in Victorian London in this excellent start to “The Belles of London” series; rather than overshadowing, it propels the romance. Romance aficionados who love fashion and animals will delight in this tender romance and will be excited to see Evelyn’s friends in future installments.
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