Mark of Distinction

Written by Jessica Dotta
Review by Waheed Rabbani

Following some dreadful incidents, 18-year-old Julia escapes the clutches of evil Mr. Macy and seeks refuge at Maplecroft, the vast estate of her real father, Lord Pierson. Although he hasn’t seen her since her birth, widower Pierson surprisingly offers her not only sanctuary but also announces her as his daughter returned from boarding school – and heir to his enormous fortune. He plans to present her to the young Queen Victoria, an event conveniently arranged by his bosom friend, Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minster. Pierson’s schemes for Julia include protecting her from the brewing scandal and marriage to another protégé, Lord Dalry. With Macy stalking her, Julia goes along with the disciplinarian Pierson’s intentions, although his sudden change of heart suggests mysterious motives. However, she cannot get her first love, Edward, out of her mind and eventually has to take charge of her life.

While this is the second book in Jessica Dotta’s Price of Privilege trilogy, it can be read as a standalone. The early Victorian era is presented vividly, both in London townhouses and country estates. The hustle and bustle of service staff in their daily chores (including the ironing of newspapers) make us feel at home with the characters in their charming mansions. The dropping of names in conversations (such as Palmer, Burns, Lord Auckland, and Dost Mohammed) is skillfully employed to inject intrigue into the story. The author’s aspiration of writing in a blended Austen-Brontë style is largely successful. While the ending will satisfy most readers, Dotta has left enough loose ends to perk our interest for the series’ final volume.