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Erica’s Pick of the Week: Mortal Follies

It is just so lovely when things live up to your expectations, isn’t it? 

Back in June, I shared my excitement for Alexis Hall’s Mortal Follies, a Regency romance with a touch of magic, during our Summer Book Buzz. But it wasn’t until last week that I finally had the chance to read this swoony, banter-filled story – and it was worth the wait.

In an alternate version of Regency England, magic is an accepted part of everyday life: curses are real, mermaids make the most exquisite gowns, and fairies are often up to mischief. All of which adds up to trouble for Miss Maelys Mitchelmore, who finds herself at a high society ball, ostensibly on the hunt for a husband, when her ballgown slowly, magically, begins to unravel – the sort of etiquette breach that could ruin her reputation.

Maelys has been unfortunately, inexplicably cursed – and the resulting magical mishaps are endangering her standing in society (and that bothersome husband hunt). Desperate for help, she turns to Lady Georgiana Landrake, sarcastically referred to as “the Duke of Annadale.” Georgiana is reputed to be a witch (and a murderess) who reluctantly agrees to assist Maelys. But the more time the women spend together, the more sparks fly…and the more danger they find themselves in. To defeat the curse will take courage and cleverness, but finding a way to be together will require something even scarier – taking a chance on each other.

Alexis Hall is known for writing queer romance with rapid-fire banter and appealing characters, and Mortal Follies delivers on all counts. Both Maelys and Georgiana are well-drawn and well-matched, resulting in a romance that feels genuine and hard-won. The supporting characters are funny and distinctive, and you can’t help hoping that each gets their own story, especially the wide-eyed, surprisingly wise Lizzie. 

The alternate London, while touched with magic and notably more diverse than we often see in Regency romances, still feels familiar and charming – there are ballgowns and carriage rides and picnics and rules of etiquette. Best of all, the whole adventure is narrated by Puck (yes, the one from Shakespeare) whose dryly funny observations give the entire story an air of whimsy and the faintest edge of danger. This is largely a closed-door romance, but there IS an abundance of curse words to go alongside the magical curses; even so, the heat level is more sensual than spicy.

Mortal Follies is a swoony sapphic historical romance, perfect for fans of Sarah MacLean and India Holton — and it will also appeal to readers who enjoy Hall’s contemporaries, such as Boyfriend Material and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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