Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.
Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly--so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…


The Duchess War is the first full length novel in Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series, and a story that I've been looking forward to. Having read The Governess Affair, the prequel to this story, and having read the epilogue that sets up this book, I knew that what was to come would be an wonderful, emotional read, but this... it was so much more than I had hoped for.
Let me get this said right up front. This book is brilliant. The way Ms. Milan writes historical romances, the way she uses the ridiculous social standards of the times to not only hinder her characters but to make them triumphant – yes. Brilliant.

When I first began reading historical romances, I thought things like the ton, peerage, seasons, the need to marry well… I thought they were all silly things, a bunch of hogwash made up by authors to flesh out their stories. But then, as I did more research of this on my own, I discovered that not only was it not hogwash, it was often far worse than historical romance portrays it. So when I read books like The Governess Affair and The Duchess War, and knowing that this was a reality of the times, I find I become very emotionally attached to the… lessers. The Underdogs. Those who don’t fit and will never fit regardless of the kinds of people they are. It doesn’t matter how much good they do, how many lives they might save, or how they treat others. They would never fit. And yet there were those who took up more space than they were worth, but were welcomed wherever they went… it all seemed so unfair. So hopeless.

But not the way Ms. Milan tells the story.

The Duchess War is a story of right and wrong. Of honor - and not just honor when it’s convenient. It’s being a person of high integrity, no matter the cost. It’s also a beautiful romance. And not just about discovering love and holding on to it with every single thing you are - more importantly, it’s about being worthy of that love.

Robert and Minnie are such compelling characters, and had they been real people, I would truly believe that their chance meeting was destiny giving them a hand. They’re so very opposite from one another, but alike in the ways that matter. Both flawed, emotionally scarred people who recognized that in one another, and that's what drew them together. Were they perfect? No! They were human! There were times I was angry with Robert, times I was livid with Minnie, but in the end, I came to adore them both. And that's all that matters.

The bottom line: Courtney Milan never ceases to amaze me with her stories that are witty, clever, intelligent, sexy and so very romantic. She’s one of very few auto-buy authors on my list, one of the few whose stories I am guaranteed to love, and books like those found in The Brothers Sinister series are why.

So do yourself a favor and pick up the novella, The Governess Affair and this story, The Duchess War and settle in for two of the most delightful, poignant, lovely romances you’ll likely ever read.

My sincerest thanks to Ms. Milan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts with you. It was a true pleasure, start to finish.

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