Friday 2 March 2018

#CBR10 Book 11: "Unveiled" by Courtney Milan

Page count: 384 pages
Audio book length: 12 hrs 14 mins
Rating: 4.5 stars

A long time ago now, back in April 2011, I first discovered Courtney Milan as an author, having read favourable things about her on various romance review blogs. My original review of this book, can be found here.

Fondly as I remember Ash and Margaret's story, this is not the Turner series book I've revisited most often. According to my records, I've only re-read it once before, back in 2012, so I was very interested to see if it was as good as I remembered. I listened to the book in audio (because I'm still not advanced enough to wrangle my e-reader and feed my child at the same time, certainly not at night). Nicole Quinn has one of those nice, crisp British voices that seems so very suitable for historical romances.

Even after nearly eight years, and with many, many, many more historical romances read, this is a very good book. I read through my original review, and I very much still agree with myself. So many romance heroes are domineering alphas and unrepentant rakes, who seem to think that women should just fall into their beds and can overwhelm with the sheer force of their personality. In these post-#metoo-times, having a hero who's very open and honest about what he wants, but also determined about obtaining clear and enthusiastic consent before he makes a move is encouraging (especially since back in 2011, when this book first came out, that certainly wasn't the norm among romance heroes. To a modern reader, it's also more appealing to read about a man who's not afraid of hard work. In the Victorian age, when these books are set, most of the landed classes came to realise that they couldn't survive merely on the income from their properties alone and society was changing rapidly. Ash is next in line for a dukedom, but has lived through poverty and need and worked since h was fifteen to make his fortune. He's no idle and cosseted fop.

So many of Ms. Milan's books are about clever and capable women who achieve great things, even with the limitations placed on them by the society they live in. Margaret isn't one of these heroines, having lived a sheltered and privileged life as a duke's daughter until Ash's revelations suddenly shook the very foundations of her existence. Even posing as a servant in her childhood home, she's not actually lower class, and never has to suffer true hardship. Being the youngest child of the duke, and being a woman, she's frequently been ignored by the duke an her brothers. She's never been away to school, she's been raised to be a nobleman's wife and a pretty ornament. Now that her legitimacy has been taken away, it's as if she has no worth whatsoever. Ash sees her, all of her, and does his best to build her confidence. He doesn't know that he's speaking to Lady Anna Margaret, youngest daughter to the duke he despises. He believes her to be a low-born nurse, and yet he still wants her to know that she is important, she has value, she should believe in herself. It is thanks to Ash's bolstering of Margaret's confidence that they are able to sort out the complicated tangle and find a happy ending eventually.

At some point this year, Ms Milan will hopefully publish her next historical novel (it's been years since her last one). Until then, I'm going to try to revisit her earlier books in audio format to see what I think about her back catalogue now. This was a very good start to my re-read project.

Judging a book by its cover: This is one of the books that Ms Milan published through Harlequin books, before she decided to do her own thing and self-publish. As such, my book has a somewhat different cover to the "lady in a photo-shopped wedding dress" that she so often employs on her own books. Not that this is all that much more exciting, with your trysting couple both in a state of semi-undress. I like the shades of blue they've used though.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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