Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Jen

This anthology cashes in on the popularity of Hamilton with a trio of love stories against the backdrop of characters marginalized by race, religion, and sexuality. I haven’t seen the musical that has captured the hearts of so many, but you really don’t need to be familiar with it to understand what’s going on here. Eliza Hamilton is collecting stories from her husband’s soldiers after his death about their history with him. Hamilton, the Yorktown, and the Revolutionary are the threads that hold the novellas together. [Read more…]

Review: Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan

once upon a marquessReviewed by Jen

Courtney Milan does such a good job crafting characters who feel like real people. In this case, it’s the heroine who I felt a connection with. Judith has endured loss and ruin that would have destroyed most ladies. But she has not only survived, but carried two of her siblings through the ordeal. Now, so much of what she has worked for is threatening to unravel –and the only person she can turn to for help is the man who ruined her life in the first place. [Read more…]

Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

trade meReviewed by Carrie

The premise of the book sounded good (even if a bit implausible) – college rich boy trades lives with poor girl. The book is penned by a solid and well-reviewed author of historical romance. So why did I not care for this book? Is it because it’s the author’s first go at contemporary? I’m thinking it is more likely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. [Read more…]

Review: The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

suffragette scandalReviewed by Jen

This may not be my favorite Courtney Milan romance, but there were many things I enjoyed about it.  The premise original and engaging. The heroine is intelligent and independent.  And the hero manages to be strong and self assured without ever being threatened by a woman who is his equal.  It’s witty; it’s smart; and it’s an overall fun read.

Free is one of the most confident and self possessed historical heroines I have ever read. She is so sure of herself and so comfortable in her own skin.  She is bold and she makes me laugh and she makes me proud of the women in history who stood up for women’s rights when it was very unfashionable to do so.  [Read more…]

Review: This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan

this wicked giftReviewed by Jen

From most other authors, I doubt I would have been able to enjoy this story. In fact, part of me finished it feeling like I really should have disliked it.  After all, the hero was willing to essentially force himself on the heroine.  It wasn’t actually rape; and despite his intentions, it wasn’t even extortion.  But the point is, he was willing to do it and that’s a pretty substantial thing to overcome. [Read more…]

Review: The Countess Conspiracy

countess conspiracyReviewed by Jen

Let me start by saying what a fan I am of Courtney Milan. Just about any time I pick up something of hers, I feel like it’s a given I am going to love it. Unfortunately, this book proved the exception to the rule.

This is the third book in the Brothers Sinister series and it focuses on Sebastian and Violet.  You may remember Sebastian from the previous books as the controversial scientist who had society aghast with his lectures on reproduction and inherited traits.  What we learn here is that none of those ideas actually belonged to him. In fact, all the theories came from Violet. Sebastian agreed to present them because no one would take the ideas seriously from a woman. [Read more…]

Review: The Heiress Effect

heiress effectReviewed by Jen

Sometimes I worry that I sound a little like a broken record when I review a Courtney Milan book. But it’s not my fault, really. She is just so consistently good that all the same accolades apply.  Her characters are so well drawn. They make me feel; they make me cry; they make me shake my fist and jump up and down in the chair.  Milan paints such a clear picture, I am completely drawn into the story and I don’t want to put it down, even after I get to the last page.

This second story in the Brothers Sinister series, focuses on Oliver Marshall, a bastard son who aspires to be more than his place in society. He is educated and savvy, and he has a plan to reach his goals in politics. Unfortunately, he needs the support of a less than stand-up nobleman to make it happen.

Jane is independently wealthy, and any man would want her sizeable dowry.  Unfortunately, marriage is the last thing she wants. She needs to stay single in order to live with her younger sister and to care for her.  If she receives a solid offer, she knows her uncle will expect her to take it, so she makes herself as unattractive to suitors as possible. She is loud, garish, and tactless at every turn. No one wants her around — much less on a permanent basis.  She is so offensive to the ton, Oliver is tasked with taking her down, by the very man whose support he needs in Parliament.

The thing is, Oliver is largely a good guy. His parents taught him right from wrong. But his ambition is strong, making his choice a difficult one.  It gets even harder once he learns the truth about Jane’s behavior.  They fall for each other, each knowing that it could never work between them.  No matter how much he sees her worth, Jane would be a liability to his future –and therein lies real problem.  It’s either give up his dream or give up his heart.

I’ll tell you, this book made me tear up. Jane felt so real to me. She has to endure so much to take care of her sister.  And she faces it all with such strength and stoicism.  I wanted so much for her to feel real love and acceptance from someone after all that ridicule.  But Oliver let me down more than once.  The thing is, though, I understood him too.  Why he felt he had to what he did.   Even in the face of this undeniable tie between them.  I believed in the romance 100%.  The sexual tension was amazing. The love scenes were great. It was wrenching and consuming and just so good!

There is also a great little b-plot romance for Jane’s sister I enjoyed; and a good setup for Sebastian’s story. I must find out what is going on with him and Violet!  Even the “bad-guys” were interesting.  All in all, it’s a really good book — and you don’t have to be familiar with the series to enjoy it.  But it’s nice to see what happens to the child at the center of The Governess Affair, and to see Hugo again.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Heiress Effect
by Courtney Milan
Release Date: July 15, 2013

Review: The Governess Affair

governess affairReviewed by Jen

You can’t go wrong with Courtney Milan! This is the novella that sets the stage for her Brothers Sinister series and it definitely whets the appetite for more, while still giving you a complete and satisfying love story.

Hugo Marshall is the son of a coal miner, with an unerring drive to make himself into something more.   If he can turn around the finances of the Duke of Clermont, it will put a tidy sum in his bank.  Unfortunately, there is something standing in his way –or rather, someone.  Serena is a former governess who was coerced into the Duke’s bed.  Now she is with child and is threatening a scandal if the Duke doesn’t do right by her baby.  The Duke dispatches Hugo to get rid of her, but refuses to tell him the nature of her grievance.

Day after day, Serena sits outside the Duke’s home, waiting for a response, until finally Hugo ventures out to address her directly.  He is intrigued by her fortitude.  One encounter turns into two, then more. Slowly, he begins to unravel her secrets and to fall for the woman who stands in the way of his future plans.

Milan is so great with novellas. Despite the short length, she really draws such well developed characters.  I felt like I knew them –especially Hugo. I understood their motivations and I believed in the development of their affections.  Hugo is a great hero. With the childhood he had, it’s easy to see why he is so determined to succeed, but when push comes to shove, his humanity wins.  I love the moment he finally makes his peace with the Duke!

The romance is really quite lovely.  Serena has given up on happy endings –and Hugo seems like the most unlikely man in the world to change that.  But somehow they fix something broken in each other. They see the value in one another that everyone else has overlooked.  It’s heartfelt; and when they come together physically, it’s quite satisfying too.

And the Epilogue is great too. (How rarely I say that!)  It sets up the remainder of the series in a way you can’t help but be excited about.  Another winner from Milan.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Governess Affair
by Courtney Milan
Release Date: April 21, 2012

Review: Unraveled

Reviewed by Jen

Smite Turner is a very damaged man.  Raised by a mother who went mad and nearly killed him, he has made Justice his life’s mission.  A magistrate for the court, he’s married to his duty.  Nothing comes before his need to do right.

But when Miranda makes her second appearance as a witness in his courtroom, he remembers that she once went by a different name and had a different color hair.  He doesn’t know why she is pretending to be someone else now, but he is intrigued enough to follow her and confront her about it.

Miranda doesn’t want to get in trouble, but she is indebted to a local crime boss. Either she does what’s asked of her, or her young ward Robbie will pay the price.  That was the reason she had jobs to do in and around the court and why Smite spied her there a third and fourth time.  She tried to run from him, but he caught up with her –and that would have been bad enough– but then Robbie saw the confrontation and lobbed Smite over the head.  The fallout from that, and Robbie’s later brush with the law, draws Smite and Miranda together over and over.  Finally, he decides to no longer fight his attraction to her and asks her to be his mistress.

The arrangement is only supposed to last a month and feelings are never supposed to come into play.  But Miranda can’t help falling for Smite as she learns the intricacies of his character.  She respects his devotion to his calling and understands the effects his childhood have had on him.  And though Smite tries his hardest, Miranda cracks the tough shell he carries around him like a shield.

I really enjoyed the book and one of the things I liked best is that Courtney Milan didn’t take the obvious route.  When she’s got her back up against the wall, Miranda doesn’t make the eye-rolling, frustrating decisions most heroines in HR would.  (You know, the one that would set up the big conflict readers know could have been avoided if she weren’t a giant idiot.)  She makes the smart choice instead.  We don’t have any big misunderstandings; any lies that loom over the path to happiness.  The conflicts –both internal and external– never felt contrived.  They all felt organic to the characters and their circumstances.

I loved poor, screwed-up Smite. And that Milan didn’t try to fix him.  He simply found some measure of peace in the woman he loves.  The romance is great; the pacing and action were just right; and the sex was satisfying too. Another winner from Courtney Milan.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon
Unraveled
by Courtney Milan
Release Date: December 9, 2011

Review: What Happened at Midnight

Reviewed by Jen

Mary’s life as a proper lady came to a crashing halt when she discovered her father not only had embezzled from his company, but he killed himself in shame.  She could do nothing about the embezzlement, but she made it her mission to keep the suicide a secret, so that he could receive a proper burial.  Unfortunately, her quick escape to hide the body only served to make her look complicit in the crime.

Fast forward a year and a half, and Mary is living in misery. She is a companion to a woman trapped by a domineering husband.  And Mary is trapped too.  Her employer withholds her wages and keeps her from leaving.  She holds out little hope for anything better.  Until John walks back into her life.  He was her fiance when the disaster happened with her dad and she walked away from him, thinking never to see him again; thinking he never really loved her at all.

Meanwhile, John believes it was Mary who never really loved him; and that she is hiding the money her father stole, money that was supposed to go toward his nephew’s inheritance.  He tries to cozy up to her, in the hopes of convincing her to reveal her secrets. But their time together only serves to rekindle the feelings between them.

It’s easy to sympathize with both Mary and John. Courtney Milan does a great job showing how each of them truly believes they are the only one to love the other.  Both characters are afraid to risk their hearts, but it makes it that much sweeter when they stop fighting their own feelings.  Their love story is heartfelt, easy to root for, and totally emotionally believable.

This was originally published in the Midnight Scandals anthology.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by author for review  

Click to purchase: Amazon
What Happened at Midnight
by Courtney Milan
Release Date: March 14, 2013