I was kindly gifted an ARC of this book via the publishers, Zaffre. I was not obligated to review this book and all thoughts are my own.
Trigger warnings: Drinking, drug use, grief, domestic abuse, sexual assault, mentions of homophobia and race, rape.
Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who lives a life Georgiana couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams.
Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana falls in with Frances and her unfathomably rich, deeply improper friends. Georgiana is introduced to a new world: drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely arresting hands, and the upper echelons of Regency society.
But the price of entry to high society might just be higher than Georgiana is willing to pay …
I was initially a little bit worried about this one, I’ll be honest. I don’t gravitate towards historical or period fiction and, despite having an English degree, I just didn’t gel with Jane Austen and several other ‘classic’ books. Despite my apprehension, I throughly enjoyed this one.
The book focuses on Georgiana Ellers – lonely, bored and desperate for gossip (aren’t we all?) – as she climbs the social ladder and navigates new friendship and romance. On the face of things, Georgiana is a typical Regency heroine. She is a little bratty, a bit snooty but she also knows her own mind, is sassy and is just like any other twenty-something navigating the world around her.
I absolutely loved the tone of this book. I was convinced Reputation would be another Regency novel that takes itself too seriously (not to make this review sound like a twenty-something lad’s Tinder bio or anything) but it wasn’t that. It was sarcastic, spiky and not afraid to question things that were ‘ok’ at the time. I liked that Croucher gave each character thought, though there were a few I wished she’d developed a bit more, every single one had dimension and something about them which meant I raced through this book.
This wasn’t Bridgerton level steamy but, actually, I’m glad about it. Though the romance did feel as though it came out of nowhere, it was honest, it was lovely and there was just the amount of heat to it.
There was a lot going on in this book. It made the extrovert in me want to head out to the parties, they were described so vibrantly and vividly you can’t help but feel like you too have been cordially invited. Saying that, sometimes I found myself a bit confused by what was going on and I feel like some things could have been resolved a little better.
Regardless, there’s no denying that Reputation is a refreshing take on the popular Regency novel. In a jam-packed world, Croucher emerges with a voice that feels new, engaging and ready wherever her new career takes her.
You can buy this book here.
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