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Peggy Fitzroy’s led a normal life. That is, until her uncle kicked her out for refusing to marry the dastardly scoundrel he chose for her. Forced into the streets, Peggy is desperate for a way to support herself in a time where women were not allow to have an occupation. Under duress, she allows herself to be convinced to impersonate Lady Francesca, a lady-in-waiting in King George I’s court. Lady Fran died, supposedly of a fever, and now they need someone to take her place. Though Peggy is sure she doesn’t understand their motives, she knows that this will keep her fed, clothed, and sheltered until she can find other reputable employment. But she soon realizes that there is more going on in court than meets the eye and if she doesn’t figure out what it is soon, she may follow in Fran’s footsteps to an untimely demise.
Peggy is a very entertaining character. She’s clever enough to give Hermione Granger a run for her money, but balanced out with a healthy dose of fear at the appropriate moments and a penchant for hysteria if things get too out of hand. She’s stubborn enough to want to stay around and figure out what game is afoot instead of running off with the jewels she has collected, which she could easily live off of the rest of her life. Then there is her cousin, Olivia. If I loved Peggy, then I adore Olivia. Smart and sassy, with a flair for drama, this girl had me begging for a sequel from her perspective. In the first chapter, when her and Peggy where play-acting to an imagined drama, I was rolling with laughter. My one lament of this novel is we don’t get nearly enough of her, or the leading man.
Speaking of the leading man, Matthew Reade is also a hilarious character. From his first meeting with Peggy, to the end of the last battle, he screamed swoon-worhty male. Funny and hot, with a passion and talent for the arts, I was instantly in love. He has an ultra-sweet side and genuinely cares for Peggy, regardless of the façade. He fits right into the role of leading man with perfection. The fact that he isn’t royalty or even a sir, simply a lowly apothecary’s son with the desire to pursue a career in the arts.
Given my love for historical romance novels, is it really any wonder that I loved this? Though it is very different, the setting and the writing style is the same and it had me swooning anew for this genre. I’ve read a handful of historical YA’s before, but nothing compares to this. It has the added bonus of no love triangles and no cliffhanger, so I have not a single thing to complain about. This has it all, intrigue, mystery, humor, with a romance light enough to not overtake the plot. It was everything I was looking for and more. If you like historical YA’s or just want to give something a little different a try, definitely check this one out.
****Thank you to Harcourt Children's Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****