Bridgerton meets Gossip Girl with a dash of Jane Austen, in Reputation, a Regency-era historical romantic comedy with a deliciously feminist twist, from a hilarious new British voice, Lex Croucher.
Abandoned by her parents, bookish and sheltered Georgiana Ellers is spending the summer with her stodgy aunt and uncle at their home in the English countryside. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who delights Georgiana with her disregard for so-called “polite society.”
Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana quickly falls in with Frances and her wealthy, wild, and deeply improper friends, who introduce her to the upper echelons of Regency aristocracy, and a world of drunken debauchery, frivolous spending, and mysterious young men. One, in particular, stands out from the rest: Thomas Hawksley, who has a tendency to cross paths with Georgiana in her most embarrassing moments. Sparks fly, but Thomas seems unimpressed with the company she is keeping. And soon, Georgiana begins to wonder whether she’ll ever feel like she fits in––or if the price of entry into Frances’s gilded world will ultimately be higher than she is willing to pay.
Set against a backdrop of lavish parties, handsome men on horseback––and in a time when one’s reputation was everything––this edgy, hilarious romantic comedy explores sex, consent, belonging, and status through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine that Austen herself would have cheered for.
Croucher's fiction debut (after self-help guide You're Crushing It) half-heartedly parodies the Regency romance genre with a tedious dark comedy centered on voracious reader Georgiana Ellers. After middle-class 20-something Georgiana's absentee parents entrust her to the care of her maternal aunt, Mrs. Burton, a bored and lonely Georgiana seizes her chance to socialize when she meets the notorious, upper-class Frances Campbell at a party. She's quickly sucked into Frances's circle of substance-abusing friends and is desperate to keep up. Happy to be accepted and enjoying her flirtation with handsome Thomas Hawksley, Georgiana turns a blind eye to the dangers of her new lifestyle, even after rakish Jeremiah Russell manipulates Frances into having sex with him, and another of Georgiana's new friends, Cecily Dugray, suffers alcohol poisoning at a party. Georgiana's obliviousness is not her only alienating quality; she also proves judgmental, rude, and easily led astray, and what little character development there is comes too little too late as Georgiana realizes the error of her ways and attempts to make last-minute amends. The casual diversity of the cast is nice, but all the usual fun trappings of Regency romance are absent here, swapped out for mean spirited humor and darkness. This misses the mark.