Price of Privilege

Written by Jessica Dotta
Review by Waheed Rabbani

Julia Elliston, having finally married Edward Auburn, her childhood sweetheart and the vicar of their small English village, is ecstatic. Her elation upon believing that her earlier woes are behind her is short lived, however. Upon learning of her past, Edward’s landed gentry parents don’t even wish to see her, and while Edward receives odd looks from the servants, his parishioners pelt him. Fearing that Julia might be abducted by her intimidator, Chance Macy, the newlyweds flee to London. Nevertheless, Julia’s attempt at holding a secret related to her earlier life with Macy proves to be challenging, and the “scandal of the century” breaks loose. In posh drawing rooms, Julia becomes the talk of after-dinner conversations. Seeking revenge, Macy changes tactics. His masterful manipulation of events leads to a most provocative case of marital law to be petitioned before the English court. When, to make matters worse, public opinion sways in Macy’s favor, Julia has to muster all her courage to contest the trial of her life, and pay the price of privilege.

This novel, like the others in the series by Jessica Dotta, not only has a true-to-life feel, but also a touch of the Regency and Victorian-era classics. These features make the narrative all the more enthralling. It’s no wonder, for in online interviews (with Reading the Past and the Southern Literary Review), Dotta has confided developing her heroine Julia’s mindset from areas of her own past and personal life, and the plot from her love of reading novels by the Brontë sisters and others. This is indeed a dark romance told brilliantly in Julia’s amiable first-person voice, much like Jane Eyre’s. Although Dotta has included much backstory in this, the final book of the trilogy, readers who have read the earlier novels will enjoy the story even more, particularly the dramatic conclusion. Highly recommended.