I loved Bringing Down the Duke last year, and knew I needed to read the second book in the League of Extraordinary Women series. This time we follow Lord Ballatine and Lady Lucie, who we met in the first book. Tristian is of course amazing in this book. He’s much deeper than we originally think and his thoughtfulness has no end. Lucie on the other really worked my patience.
Lucie is an die hard suffragists and has spent her whole adult life working towards helping women’s rights. I love that Dunmore gives us a ton of background of the suffragist movement in Britian throughout this book. My biggest compliant with Lucie, is her all or nothing mentality. She won’t let herself have happiness because she thinks she will immediately be falling into the trap of married women. I just wanted to shake her and say, ‘you can have love and still work towards women’s rights.” But I digress.
The romance between Lucie and Tristian though is wonderfully writing. You can feel the chemistry and tension between them, and their complex personalities really ground them in reality. I loved every aspect of the romance in this book. It has just enough steam but not too much to were it ends up being cringy.
I felt that I read a decent number of reviews that had issues with this book. There were issues with the cultural appropriation dealing with Tristian’s tattoo. Issues with White Feminism. And lastly, some issue with the only gay character being the villain. I don’t really agree with any of these thoughts and without going to far down the rabbit whole here’s why.
Tristian spends quite a bit of time in India, and I know that there are issues with British colonialization, I felt that Tristian had a deep sense of appreciate for the deity that he was representing in the tattoo. He’s about to talk about the meaning behind it and he continuously shows awareness for the Indian culture. I think there is a fine line between cultural appreciation and culture appropriation. I also completely respect that there has been a strong history of appropriation that has really hurt cultures. However, this is a romance book and I thought Dunmore did a really good job of prompting the culture. I studied Asian (specifically Indian) history and politics in college and spent some time in India as well and while I’m no expert and never claim to be. I will say I have so much respect and enjoy the Indian culture immensely. I wish it was easier to show my appreciation in this day and age, without the fear of being called out for appropriating.
White Feminism is the second issue some readers are having. Honestly, Britain in the 1800s was pretty white. How can you write a historical fiction novel and add in token ethic characters while still being historically accurate. I’m not saying it was all white, but if we’re speaking purely historical then it’s sort of unfair to have an issue with this in this particular book.
Lastly, the character of Arthur. Honestly, I don’t think Arthur is the villain in this book. I think he’s a hard broken young man, that has to hide his sexuality and made a mistake. For me, Lucie’s cousin is the villain so no I don’t think this book is homophobic.
I think this book was perfect for what it is. A fun historical fiction romance. Our main couple is brilliantly written and Evie Dunmore has a great imagination. I think she’s doing a really great job of bringing the history of women’s rights mainstream while providing us with an enjoyable book to read. Because sometimes, especially in 2020, all you need is a fun read to escape from reality.
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