Courtney Milan’s latest book – The Suffragette Scandal – is the final novel in her amazing series, The Brothers Sinister (there is one final novella that will be round out the series later this year).
Here is the description of the book from Milan’s website:
Miss Frederica “Free” Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women’s rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope…but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.
Edward Clark’s aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger. When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help. So what if he has to lie to her? She’s only a pawn to use in his revenge.
But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward. By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it’s too late. The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past…and once the woman he loves realizes how much he’s lied to her, he’ll lose her forever.
Free is a suffragette and is, in many ways, a feminist in her own time. In the notes on the book at the end, Milan explains how she came up with the political ideology that Free follows and details in the book, writing:
Why work for a goal that will not bear fruit in over a century? Why do people work to change things today? I found the answer in Melissa McEwan’s Shakesville.
Milan goes on to quote McEwan discussing doing social justice activism and how it is like trying to empty the sea with a teaspoon.
I am so excited to say that McEwan is a friend of mine and we have now both read this book. Here is the text messaging we did as soon as we both had finished it [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT; The rest of this post will be most appreciated by people who have already read this ridiculously good book]:
MM: I finished it at about 2:30 last night.
JL (me): Did you sob? I sobbed. Like I said, it’s such a celebration of women who do progressive activist work and the people who love them, and that second part just GETS ME.
MM: I sobbed. I sobbed at Amanda and Genevieve getting together; I sobbed at Free and Edward deciding to figure shit out; I sobbed at giving women the vote at their estate.
JL: YES I loved that part! The vote. I loved the Amanda and Genevieve, too.
MM: It was SO GREAT. I loved how Free’s paper was an allegory for feminist blogging, and I loved how the aristocracy was an allegory for the patriarchy. And how Edward couldn’t step away from his privilege, but he could learn how to leverage it.
JL: YES. (is how I’m going to respond to whatever you write). I want you to read The Heiress Effect now because before this book, I thought THAT was the most feminist romance I’d ever read. It’s in this same series.
MM: I’m so gonna read that next!
JL: The whole series is stellar. I mean, Free’s parents have a novella at the beginning that kicks the whole thing off. The Heiress Effect is her brother’s story.
MM: I sobbed SO HARD when he told his shitlord brother that he didn’t marry Free to posses her himself but so that his brother couldn’t.
MM: And when Free is all: Stop telling me not to trust you and make yourself trustworthy.
JL: You are making me want to go back and re-read this book right now at this very moment and I may do that.
MM: It’s so great. I’m totally gonna read it again. I told Iain he has to read it.
One of my favorite lines of the book was about how Edward could no more resist her than the moon could resist the earth. That’s just beautiful writing, right there.
I also loved the bit in her author’s note about Josephine Butler: MAY DISCORD PREVAIL FOREVER. I need to get that tattooed on MY FACE.
Also! I laughed so hard at this: “Then I’ll show him how hinges operate.”
Also: Tom Hardy is Edward. I need this movie immediately.
First: TOM HARDY
Second: There’s more to gush about with this novel. Exclamation points! Free openly talking about sex like it ain’t no thing. Free schooling Edward on women and class. And puppy-cannons.