Friday, April 4, 2014

Courtney Milan Mini-Reviews

I discovered Courtney Milan's historical romance novels early this year and have spent the better part of the past three months making my way through her back list. Of the multitude of novels and novellas I've read of hers, these are the three I took the time to review, albeit briefly, and they are in the order in which I read them, which wasn't chronological (though I'd likely recommend reading these books in order as they're likely better appreciated, in some ways at least). Needless to say, I hope to convince many more readers to pick up her work - particularly if you believe historical romance isn't a genre that appeals to you. Milan will likely prove you wrong.  

Title: Unraveled (Turner, #3) 

Author: Courtney Milan

Rating: 4.5 Stars

It's official: Courtney Milan is my new favorite author. While I'm not known to have much luck in the historical romance genre, Milan subverts a plethora of overused tropes, making her novels enticingly real. Although I've only read three of her works so far, they've featured a doctor intent on using revolutionary means to prevent the spread of infection, a thug (of sorts) who has followed instructions without questioning them for years, and now a magistrate whose middle name might as well be justice itself. None of her heroes are, from the surface, heroic but they all lend themselves perfectly to an exploration of the time period and to an unknown source of depth. Moreover, these heroines are no less stunning in their portrayal, vivaciously strong and determined to survive despite the odds they are constantly battling. Unraveled is a historical romance, yes, but it will do so much more than simply set your heart on fire; it will melt it.

Title: The Countess Conspiracy (The Brothers Sinister, #3) 

Author: Courtney Milan 

Rating: 4 Stars

What do you get when you combine historical feminism, science, and a best friend romance? If you answered The Countess Conspiracy, you'd be right. I seem to be making it a habit to start off with the third book in a Milan series, despite the fact that I fully intend to read the predecessors. With its synopsis of a widowed countess whose science experiments are masqueraded off by her best friend, however, I couldn't resist. Compared to the previous full-length Milan novel I read, Unraveled, this romance is remarkably chaste. And yet, the palpable tension between Violet and Sebastian, two friends who have been pillars of support for one another for years, is a welcome torture. Milan manages to build their relationship dynamic without resorting to flashbacks, a pet peeve of mine, but the strength of the bond between these two is undeniable. For me, however, the best aspects of this novel lie in the fact that Sebastian loves Violet for who she is - determined, stubborn, loathe to trust due to her tragic past, and fiercely intelligent. Despite the fact that she is not a great beauty and that her behavior defies the strict rules of society, he cannot help but admire her for the person she is. Milan's tidbits of feminism, evident both in the scientific aspects of this tale and weaved throughout the story line, are true gems. In the end, The Countess Conspiracy does, after all, prove to be a conspiracy. One to win over your heart.

Title: Unclaimed (Turner, #2) 

Author: Courtney Milan 

Rating: 3 Stars

I blame myself. I began this series with the third Turner brother, Smite, who is by far the most enigmatic, intriguing, and (let's be honest) sexy sibling of these three very fine brothers. After absolutely loving Smite's story, I - naturally - rushed out to grab a copy of the previous books in this series. While I've found myself falling in love with both Ash and Mark, the other two Turner brothers, and their respective romantic interests, there has always been a missing spark, if you will. Neither of these brothers charmed me nor did they win over my hearts. Moreover, the plot lines towards the end of these two installments veered off, becoming increasingly drawn-out. While I admire Milan's knack of including truly historical aspects into her work, the romances in these first two novels did, nevertheless, leave me feeling a twinge of disappointment.

Nevertheless, Mark Turner of Unclaimed makes extremely important points regarding sexuality, chastity, and mutual respect in a relationship. Seeing these ideals espoused - and carried out - by a strong, inspirational male character (who is a virgin, no less!) is the direction I wish more novels would move towards. Especially in an era which glorifies the male empowerment over the female. As such, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Milan's discussion of female treatment in this book, along with her exploration of their sexuality. Jessica, despite being a courtesan, has never liked herself or felt empowered by her gender. Instead, she has seen relationships as possession - only she is the one being possessed. While I didn't always enjoy the direction Jessica's actions took her, I really did love her continual growth throughout the novel which was linked both to her physical and mental psyche.

While not a stunning Milan piece, Unclaimed is still far superior to the majority of historical romances out there. And, if you read this series in the right order, you'll be awarded with Smite Turner next. Who could turn that down?


The Bookish Manicurist said...

I've never heard of these series or the author, but I really like the subtle messages the author shares via her stories. These sound like great reads when you're in the mood for romance + intelligent ideas!

Mary @ BookSwarm said...

I like Courtney Milan! While I haven't loved everything she's written, those that I did love, I loved with a passion. Her stories are fun and sexy without being over the top and there's always an awesome HEA. Great minis!

Blodeuedd said...

Nice minis :)
I have only read one of those

Jenny said...

YEAH KEERTANA!!!! I'm so glad you've been on a Courtney Milan kick lately, I just adore her books! I agree with you completely on her heroes and heroines, they're all outstanding and I can't help but fall in love with all of them over and over again when reading. So very good:)

Courtney Reads A Lot said...

These sound absolutely delightful! I might have to give one of her books a try. I do love me some historical fiction, and the author shares my name! How could I resist? From your reviews, it sounds like these books are definitely entertaining reads. I will admit usually covers like these send me running the other way, but I trust you and will have to give this author a chance. Great reviews, Keertana!

Inis Ravishing Reads said...

I definitely belong to camp of readers who hasn't read many historical romance, but I would love to. Courtney Milan's books sounds really good. Thanks for putting this on my radar. Fabulous reviews, Keertana!! (:

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I haven't read a good historical romance in far too long. Would you believe I've never heard of Courtney Milan, either? Clearly I will need to rectify this because it sounds like there is actual character growth throughout these books. Lovely mini reviews, Keertana!

Tanja - Tanychy said...

You always remind me that I should read more historical novels. I haven't read any in a while and men in them tend to be really irresistible! The Countess Conspiracy sounds the best to me as the combination of feminism and science seems really intriguing. Great reviews, Keertana :)

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Wow! Even the one you liked the least got such a glowing review. I have a book of hers on my tbr and I need to dig it out of the pile to read. I have a feeling she will be on par with Maya Banks for my historical fiction. Thanks!

Lauren D. said...

The few historical romances I have read I've enjoyed, but I just don't tend to gravitate to them naturally. I will definitely need to make some room on my shelf for these! Especially Unraveled - how can I resist an endorsement like this "it will do so much more than simply set your heart on fire; it will melt it." :-) Wonderful reviews!

Rachel said...

I do love a good historical romance every once in a while. I loved the Lisa Kleypas book you recommended, so I'll have to jot these down to pick up. Great review, Keertana! :)

Rachel said...

I meant reviews!

Lily B said...

I think I picked up one of her books for free recently and have not read it yet, a shame it seems since I love historical romances and she gets lots of praises

Wendy Darling said...

I've only read the novella so far, but I loved it--and I'm so excited to read the other Turner books! SO happy to see that you enjoyed them. :)