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I received a free copy of this book to review. However, the following review is my honest opinion. This book may not be suitable for younger audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

It’s Samantha’s first Season. She’s being introduced to society so she can find a husband and settle down as a respectable wife. The problem is, few of her favourite activities are respectable. She’d much rather be reading a book or riding a horse than dancing with rich bigots at a ball, especially when she spots Benjamin, her late brother’s best friend. I’m sure if you tried to skewer someone when you were 10, you wouldn’t want to see them again either. I know I’d rather just melt into an embarrassed puddle.

Benjamin promised Sam’s brother that he’d watch over her and pick out a suitable husband for her. But when none of her suitors seem good enough, when he catches his eyes following her across the ballroom, Benjamin realises he screwed up. He’s smitten. Ben tells himself he can’t be the one; he’s a rake who would damage Sam’s reputation and he couldn’t possibly snatch up his best friend’s sister. Could he?

All his worries seem inconsequential, however, when they discover that Sam’s father and brother were murdered. And the murders aren’t finished yet. Between trying to find the culprit, trying to protect Sam,  and trying to ignore the way she makes his pulse race with nothing more than a smile, Ben has his work cut out for him.

The Quills: 9/10

It seemed difficult to picture Samantha as anything else but a scrawny, ill-mannered child. [Benjamin] assumed, as an adult, she must resemble her brother; same chestnut hair, same blue eyes. Although decidedly more feminine, he corrected the image in his head. He would have no difficulty spotting her this evening. He only hoped she was unarmed.

-Alyssa Drake, A Perfect Plan

A Perfect Plan is a historical romance set in Victorian England. There are explicit scenes, so this may not be suitable for younger audiences or those who only read clean romances. It is told in third person, alternating between Samantha and Benjamin’s points of view. In the beginning, the writing may seem oddly formal, especially in terms of dialogue. However, as I progressed in the novel, this kind of formal dialogue fit the world perfectly. The writing is energetic and full of personality. There are a few writing quirks here and there, but they’re minor and don’t affect the story telling.

The characterisation is beautiful. The characters are lively, opinionated, and funny. The more I read, the more I learned about them, and the more I fell in love. Most importantly, the characterisation isn’t done outright; it’s hidden in the choices the characters make, their passing thoughts, the opinions they have and the ones they choose to voice. They are beautiful, alive, and totally not as boring and stiff as they first sound.

As if beautiful characterisation wasn’t enough, it is also paired with amazing world building. The wonders, annoyances, and culture all come alive effortlessly. This book doesn’t thrust you into a foreign world. The world is built around you everywhere, and the more you read, the more you feel at home.

The tropes in this book aren’t shiny new things that make you think, “Wow, that’s a cool idea”. They’re worn old classics that you pick up off your shelf once in a while, dust off, and sit with, reminiscing.  Being old isn’t bad; it’s just not new.

The Roses: 9.5/10

You know that feeling when your heart races or your chest squeezes because you are so close to the character? This is that kind of book. It brings with it a racing pulse, nervous belly flip-flops, and tingles down your spine. Yeah, I said it. It’s that awesome.

The characters are absolutely so much fun and the world is built so well. It’s enchanting, dangerous, and beautiful. Oh, and it’s Victorian England. That alone makes me willing to give a book a try, and this one really delivered in terms of heart-racing romance.

Granted, there is one thing that bothers me: this is technically not a stand-alone book. It feels like it ends before the climax and none of the problems were actually (completely) resolved. All I can do now is hope the sequel comes out soon and continues to follow Sam and Ben. If it switches to follow other characters like some series do, I’ll probably break out in angry grumbling or gross sobbing.

Conclusion: A Perfect Plan is a beautifully-crafted heart-stopping romance that will leave you craving more. Seriously. I need the sequel. Right now.