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Reviewed by Phumeza Ndzambo for Readers' Favorite
The Viscount Without Virtue by Katherine Grant is a story of a community ahead of its time. In a world of slavery and exploitation, the people of Northfield are living by the principle of fair work and fair pay. Everything is either earned or sold at a reasonable price. Having lived there her whole life, Ellen Preston has internalized the principle to form the very core of her identity. She is not unaware of the evils of the outside world, but her convictions have made her somewhat immune, with the willpower to resist even the most alluring of its temptations. When Max enters her world, Ellen is determined to prove him wrong about their way of living. Could she be the one proven wrong and how much does Ellen know about her way of life and the people in it?
I like the way Katherine Grant challenges stereotypes about women of history. Generally, the virtues of a 19th-century woman were tied to chastity. The Viscount Without Virtue takes a rather liberal and feminist view with regard to what the main character views as right or wrong. This enriches the story and makes it exciting and unpredictable. I also enjoyed the effort the author put into creating her characters. They are neither good nor evil, just human. Their actions are purpose-driven, but they are also sentimental and contrary, which makes them complex and interesting. In the end, this is not a story about good and evil, right or wrong, but about the grey areas that make us human.