Title: The Siren of Sussex
Author: Mimi Matthews
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: January 11, 2022
Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.
Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.
Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.
But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?
Evelyn Maltravers goes to London to stay with her uncle for her first season, but she doesn’t have high expectations for marriage after her sister’s scandal. Her goal is to make a name for herself as a horseback rider. She goes to the half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik, who is known for designing the riding habits for the Pretty Horsebreakers of Rotten Row, to make her habit. Ahmad is an up-and-coming tailor, but he isn’t willing to cross boundaries with his wealthy clients to get ahead. However, when he meets Evelyn everything changes. There are many societal expectations that stand in their way, but Evelyn and Ahmad need to find a way to be together.
This story wasn’t a typical Victorian romance. I haven’t seen many Victorian romances that address racism the way this one did. Ahmad was half-Indian and working class. Many people made racist comments to him, and expected different things from him due to his race. Even Evelyn made inappropriate comments to him, though she didn’t realize it at the time. Though Ahmad had to deal with all of this racism, he had more opportunities than most people in his situation would have had in reality.
This was a slow romance, but I enjoyed it. There were some entertaining subplots, such as Ahmad’s business and Evelyn’s uncle’s fascination with spiritualism. These subplots added to the story and set up some possible themes for future books in the series.
The Siren of Sussex is a great Victorian romance!
Thank you Berkley for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden
About the author:
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on theVictorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, and two Siamese cats. Learn more online atmimimatthews.com.
Have you read The Siren of Sussex? What did you think of it?