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Olivia is the last remaining Middleton sister yet unmarried, and it's not a position that she is happy with. Now, her mother's full attention is on her, and all Olivia wants to do is read her gothic novels in peace.
Olivia has no choice when she gets dragged to a house party, but she does find a way to sneak away from her mother's thinly-veiled matchmaking schemes and read her novel in peace.
William Cross is at the same house party, and had expected to be the object of much attention and fawning from the ladies present -- because he knows he has the looks, the charm and the wit to flirt his way through a party. Which is why Olivia Middleton baffles him -- because she isn't interested in him, at all. Even when he unleashes his charm to maximum effect, Olivia sees right through the smarm and walks away.
In terms of characterization, William's personality is more clearly written out -- he is a writer who hasn't written anything for a long while, but who clearly loves books. He has issues stemming back to his mother's abandonment of their family. Olivia isn't as interesting -- she has all the traits of her sister, and her quirk is her love for the gothic and her tendency to dissemble when panicked. But, when they are together, the hero and heroine of The Love Match are truly a memorable match-up: he moves smoothly through society and is, usually, the most sought-after person at any party, and she's socially awkward and loves to fade into the background at gatherings. When faced with a difficult or unwanted social situation, he resorts to insincerity and flattery, and she blurts out the first thing that comes to mind -- and it isn't always the truth.
Words are at the heart of Olivia and William's story -- how can two people work towards an honest and intimate relationship, when their words can't be trusted? But Lily Maxton gives her characters the gift of discernment: William sees through Olivia's fiction, and Olivia doesn't buy into William's appeal. It felt like such an intimate thing -- a shared secret between cohorts, a language only they could understand.
Neither one is interested in marriage, but they recognize that they are kindred spirits. William hesitates to give more than his body to Olivia: having seen the devastation of being abandoned by the one you love, he keeps his heart safe from any such entanglements. Olivia doesn't mind, because she isn't interested in marriage -- but the choice is taken away from them when they are caught in a compromising situation.
This mirrors her sister's predicament, and I wasn't surprised when Olivia made the same decision as her sister did. The Middletons are strong women with minds of their own. True, they are under their mother's control, but it hasn't stopped them from living fully and in the present, and pursuing their curiosities.
The only weakness of this novella is how the author resolved Olivia and William's story, because it seemed like a rehash of Anne and Michael's ending.
The Love Match is the third instalment in Lily Maxton's Sisters of Scandal series. To find out more about Lily Maxton and her books, click below: