Title: Queen Bee
Author: Amalie Howard
Genres: Historical Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Joy Revolution
Review Copy: ARC by publisher
Availability: Available now
Summary: Lady Ela Dalvi knows the exact moment her life was forever changed—when her best friend, Poppy, betrayed her without qualm over a boy, the son of a duke. She was sent away in disgrace, her reputation ruined.
Nearly three years later, eighteen-year-old Ela is consumed with bitterness and a desire for . . . revenge. Her enemy is quickly joining the crème de la crème of high society while she withers away in the English countryside.
With an audacious plan to get even, Ela disguises herself as a mysterious heiress and infiltrates London’s elite. But when Ela reunites with the only boy she’s ever loved, she begins to question whether vengeance is still her greatest desire.
Review: If you love the Bridgerton show on Netflix, you’ll love this book. It was so much fun! This was another one of those times where I intended to read the book slowly but was so drawn into the drama that I couldn’t put it down. I was smiling all throughout as Howard contrasts Ela’s heart-wrenching betrayal by Poppy and her life immediately after with the implantation and acts of her plans for revenge. The novel is somewhat an “enemies to lovers” trope as Keston Osborn (the duke’s son) somewhat played a role, unwillingly, in in the events that led Ela being sent away by her father. Being that Keston has no clue Ela sees him as an enemy makes for a lovely twist on the trope and great romantic tension.
I won’t give spoilers as to how Poppy completely ruins Ela’s life (and you will absolutely hate her for it), but after the event Ela is sent away to a strict religious boarding school where, despite the harshness of the headmistresses and their routines, she mends her broken heart through the friendships she makes with other girls who have been sent away, and develop an almost mother-daughter like relationship with a Church, a woman who lived on the grounds. It is also where Ela concocts her plan for getting back at Poppy and ruining her life. With Church she creates her alter ego, Lyra Whitely, and manages to return to London for the summer social season and the Ton. Her plan seems flawless – ingratiate herself into Poppy’s social circle, then bring Poppy down, and restore her own family’s social status. Now you might be wondering, won’t anyone recognize her? I had that thought initially and well, let’s just saw Howard does a great job of explaining Ela/Lyra’s deception. I was so impressed with the detail Ela/Lyra displayed in her plan and was rooting for her to win. And while Ela/Lyra is focused on revenge, she is not a cold-hearted character. As she is enacting her plan and creating friendships with Poppy’s friends, whom Poppy is a typical mean girl too, Ela/Lyra’s conscience forces her to examine her true motivations as she realizes that her revenge would end up hurting more than just Poppy. She finds a sense of community with certain members of the ton and she questions whether or not to continue with her plan. This internal conflict that Howard writes for Ela/Lyra is another reason why I was so drawn to her. The novel really examines whether revenge is truly ever worth it and the power of forgiveness, which Ela/Lyra learns through her newly developed friendships.
Since this one of Joy Revolution’s first publications, I have to mention the romance between Keston and Ela/Lyra. But…I don’t want to give any spoilers away so I’ll just say that part of Ela/Lyra’s growth towards forgiveness comes from her new relationship with Keston. They had been good friends before Poppy used him as the catalyst for the betrayal, but when they reconnect, their attraction and chemistry is still just as strong. I loved their scenes, both when they were younger at the sweetness and innocence of it all and when they were older and able to truly challenge each other as young adults.
Overall, this is a great read if you love historical fiction romance, enemies to lovers, and a good revenge story. I can tell you how much I loved it and what I recommend by this conversation I had with one of my students:
Student: *whispers* Do you have any romance books I could borrow?
Me: I have just the book for you! *hands her Queen Bee*
Go buy this book! I guarantee you will love it.