Book Review: Courtship & Curses

Courtship & Curses
Marissa Doyle
Historical Fantasy
Ages 14 and up
352 pages

Lady Sophie Rosier is anticipating her first London social season with less than full enthusiasm. It’s no wonder. An illness two years previously left her with one leg shorter than the other. Her aunts bicker over dull fabric colors at the dressmaker’s shop and can’t come to a decision—one wouldn’t want to wear a bright color and call attention to one’s infirmity, would one? Not to mention the ignorance of many in Society who think that since she’s crippled, she must also be dimwitted or hunchbacked.

Yet worse than this is the fact that Sophie’s mother and younger sister died from the same illness that left her lame. Sophie still deals with the pain and grief of their absence. Thank goodness that Madame Carswell—Amelie—has come to stay with Sophie’s family. The widow of one of Sophie’s father’s oldest friends, Amelie understands both Sophie’s grief and the need to not be constantly reminded of her leg. She also understands current fashion and takes over the selection of a wardrobe for an extremely grateful Sophie.

So begins Marissa Doyle’s Courtship & Curses, a novel filled with mystery, romance, and magic in 1815 London. Napoleon is back in power and England is on the brink of war. Sophie’s first social event is marred when a bust of Zeus crashes to the floor. If not for the quick action of the handsome Lord Woodbridge, the statue would have hit her father—a War Office minister. And Sophie senses magic at the scene, which can only mean it was no accident. But Sophie can’t tell people how she knows, because while magic is around, it isn’t commonplace.

Accidents continue to happen to War Office members. Sophie shares her concerns with her new friends Lord Woodbridge—Peregrine—and his cousin Parthenope, and finally with her father, who doesn’t take her fears seriously. Still, Sophie is determined to do whatever she can to keep him safe. Meanwhile, a budding romance grows between Sophie and Peregrine.

I really enjoyed Courtship & Curses. The mystery is well done, with suspicion falling on several different characters. The romance is sweet—even during its rough patches—with both Peregrine and Sophie behaving with realistic motivation. And Parthenope is such a fun character that she almost steals scenes from Sophie. But Sophie has much to struggle with during the course of the book and she grows stronger and more confident as the story progresses.

The author of Bewitching Season and Betraying Season, Doyle weaves all the threads of the book together with her usual expertise. The historical details, including the slang of the time period, make for a fun read. I highly recommend it for lovers of historical fantasy.

Make sure to check back on Thursday for an interview with author Marissa Doyle!


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