Evie Dunmore's debut novel Bringing Down the Duke made a splash last year both because of it's feminist love story and it's general sparkliness (is that a word?) both inside and outside. Inside was a sharp, funny, lovely story of opposites attracting and on the outside was a colorful, illustrated design that was part of a major trend in the publishing world. In her second League of Extraordinary Women novel, Dunmore offers another multidimensional pairing battling social mores and their own feelings to find their happy ending.
Lady Lucie Tedbury and her group of suffragists have worked out a plan to reach women across England. They'll continue to demonstrate and pass out pamphlets but to really reach hearts and minds, they need to find them where they live. And Lucie is thisclose to making her goal real by arranging to purchage a publishing house with which she can spread the word in women's magazines. There's only one problem Tristan, Lord Ballentine, is just as determined to purchase the publishing business for his own purposes. The two instantly strike sparks off of each other as they spar for control of the business and their budding relationship.
Dunmore puts her research to good use in developing her characters. Lucie is an outlier in her own time, but she is so realistically depicted in her passion for her cause and in the real ways she struggles with actualizing her goals, that she never seems out of place or too modern. The conflict in their romance comes not from villains out to get them, but in the realization of all that Lucie would have to give up if she were to marry and how all that a woman was could be subsumed by her husband in that era. The best moments of the novel were in how Tristan's eyes were opened to the realities of a woman's life.
Nicely done. I can't wait to read the next in the series.