I am a huge fan of Courtney Milan’s historical romances, in large part because they are like their author — smart, original and interesting, with a wicked streak. This third full-length book is a perfect example.
Unveiled has an intriguing premise. Ash Turner, a distant relative of the Duke of Parford, stands to inherit the duchy because there is no closer legitimate heir. But unlike most fictional history (paging Downton Abbey), in this case the heir apparent is the agent of his own good fortune; Ash set in motion the events that caused the duke’s children to be set aside. For that, the duke’s daughter Margaret is unlikely to forgive him. Margaret’s brothers have petitioned Parliament to set Ash aside as unfit and reinstate them as their father’s heirs, and to help in that effort, Margaret is disguised as her father’s nurse and set to spy on Ash as he comes to see the estate he will inherit.
I don’t always enjoy revenge plots, but that’s usually either because a character gives up on revenge too easily (in light of how determined he or she was) or because in pursuit of the revenge, the character becomes unlikeable. Milan has avoided both of those pitfalls. She believably portrays how much reason these characters have to be enemies — Ash’s desire for vengeance is justified, but of course Margaret is not the one to blame, although she is paying the price by losing her home and her place in society. It’s a great set-up, and Ash and Margaret’s journey towards acknowledging their feelings for each other and then working together to find a shared future is fascinating.
Ash, in particular, is a wonderful hero. He’s a self-made man; as in some of her previous work, Milan doesn’t confine herself to members of the gentry as her heroes and heroines. Issues of class, inheritance, and gender equity are familiar and yet new here; fascinating as they are, those issues don’t overwhelm the story. I can’t say a lot more without spoilers, so let me just emphasize how much I enjoyed reading a book that engaged my brain while it touched my heart. WIN.