Smart Romance Unveiled

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.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phyl
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 03:56:11

    How nice to find this on my Kindle this morning 🙂

    Looking forward to reading it!


  2. Liz
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 16:42:31

    Curse you, Kindle readers! I have to wait until the 1st. (For some reason, this annoys me, even though I wouldn’t be able to start it today if I COULD buy it, and probably won’t get to it for weeks once I can). But if a book is out, it should be OUT. I could drive to the mall and buy it, so why can’t I download it for my Sony reader? This is just to say, your review makes me WANT to read it, as usual when you like something. I will refrain from cursing you for this, however.


  3. sonomalass
    Jan 25, 2011 @ 20:58:44

    I hope you both enjoy it.


  4. Portia Da Costa
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 00:26:38

    I’ve just started on this, and I’m already finding it exceptional. It feels very grounded and deep, but without being heavy going. She has a wonderful voice.


    • sonomalass
      Jan 28, 2011 @ 11:35:01

      Portia, that’s what I think, too. Her writing is thoughtful without being heavy. Have you read Trial By Desire, her book featuring a hero who suffers from depression? It really touched me, and yet I laughed in places, too. It was both serious and joyful, like this one.


      • Portia Da Costa
        Jan 28, 2011 @ 11:59:33

        Nope, this is my first Courtney Milan read, but it won’t be my last. I’ll probably buy her previous ones as soon as I’ve finished this. 🙂

        I love the balance of a witty voice and believable emotions and issues. She does gorgeous description too.

        It’s the sort of writing that provokes me to strive harder to ‘lift’ the level by own work.

  5. Portia Da Costa
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 14:10:28

    LOL… I meant lift the level ‘of’ my own work.


  6. Trackback: RITA Nominee Congratulations « Sonomalass's Blog

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