QUEEN BEE by Amalie Howard

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

Heiress Miss Lyra Whitley has come to the London Season with one goal in mind: revenge.

Her first Season shouldn’t have been like this. Lady Ela Dalvi, daughter of an earl, should have arrived in London with every expectation of making a good match, maybe even to the boy she loved: Lord Keston Osborn, Marquess of Ridley, son and heir to the Duke of Harbridge, who moved near her family’s ancestral seat when they were fifteen. But that was before her childhood best friend Poppy, consumed with jealousy for Ela’s friendship with Kes, spread a vicious rumor that ruined her reputation and got Ela banished to a reform school for “ruined” girls in Cumbria. For years, Ela stewed in her desire for vengeance, and now with a benefactor’s fortune behind her and her true identity hidden, she is going to destroy the friend who wronged her and the boy who believed the lies and turned his back on her.

But revenge is more complex than she anticipated, and although her plans go well from the start, allowing her immediate access to her enemies’ inner circles, new friendships make her question how brutal she is willing to be to take Poppy down. Worse, every time she’s with Kes, her old feelings stir to the surface–and Kes seems to be falling in love with “Miss Whitley.” Could Kes be worth letting go of years of anger? And even if she forgives him, will he forgive her for a Season of lies?

Beckoning to fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton, Howard incorporates an “anti-history” of racial and ethnic diversity and tolerance into her Regency-esque world, although she doesn’t grapple with racism and colonialism in this work they way she typically does in her adult romances. Tailoring the Regency Romance genre for a younger audience, she also eschews steamy love scenes (and sex in general) and focuses not on the more mature themes of matrimony and parenthood typically on the minds of Regency teenaged heroines but instead on cliques, crushes, and more modern-feeling teen camaraderie. It is a compelling foray into the YA sphere, and I hope that Howard continues bringing her wonderful sense of humor and perspective as a biracial author to this age group.

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