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A Fan's Playground
Once Upon A Marquess, by Courtney Milan 
Combeferre
For starters, I LOVED it. It's the first in a projected fairly long series, and in some respects you can really see that she's working to set up a lot of things for future storylines to lead from. But it works!

Because one of the biggest plot things she's busy setting up is stuff about Britain's evil empire shenanigans (specifically the Opium Wars), which I am super interested in. Romance novels that deal directly with colonialism are GREAT and more should do it please and thanks. (Courtney Milan and Zen Cho are the only authors I know of who have done it. Which is not a long list. But then I'm not exactly connected into the romance novel zeitgeist, so what do I know, maybe there are more. If so: please rec them to me.)

Also, I always love the family stuff in Courtney Milan's books, and it's particularly great in this one, dang. So much complicated family history, AND ALSO so much excellently portrayed family dynamics between our heroine Judith and her two younger siblings (Theresa, 14 and Benedict, 12) who she is raising. I love how clearly obvious it is that these three siblings all really love and care about each other and have fun together even while also sometimes being SUPER FRUSTRATED with each other for very good reasons. How excellently family!

Also this book contains multiple major characters who are neuroatypical in one way or another, which is treated totally respectfully by the author. (If I were to use labels I think I'd say the hero Christian has OCD and Theresa has ASD.) I really appreciated this element of the book.

And oh right this is a romance novel. The romance is fine! I had no problems with it! But it's not the aspect of the book I cared the most about. (though I do appreciate the fact that given this series is in the romance genre I can rely on each book to have a happy ending.)

I'm not going to bother reading the novella that's out already that takes place directly after this and is about Judith's bff, because so far I've found all of Milan's shorter works frustrating in one way or another so I've decided I'm not going to keep bothering with them. And that's all that's out in the series so far and I am feeling pretty desperate for the rest of the series to be available to read because aaaaaaa I have a lot of feelings.

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