Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Duchess War

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan

Set in England in 1863.

Minerva Lane has been hiding. Hiding from her past and her childhood, and even her name, going by another name, Wilhelmina Pursling. No one but her great aunts knows of her past, not even her best friend Lydia, whose dangerous secrets she’s held for years.

Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont is not hiding from his past, but is instead trying to atone for it–less his past and more the actions of his father. When his atonement causes problems for Minnie, she is determined to keep her secrets–and expose his.

I knew I really liked this series, but for some reason, even though it’s not been that long since I last read it, I was convinced it was better in my memory than in actuality.

I was wrong.

Let me get one thing clear, I do love Ilona Andrews books. But the series I just re-read had a great number of weaknesses that I’d noted upon re-reading; weaknesses that became more glaring in close comparison with Courtney Milan’s writing.

First, the dialog is delightful.

If I do it my way, when it’s all said and done, people will say, ‘Well, Minnie really kept her head, even when a duke was about.’” “And men will marry you because of that?” he asked dubiously. “I only need one man to do so,” Minnie shot back. “More would be illegal.”

Second, Robert is a wonderful hero. I adore him.

The man bowed his head. “Forgive me, Your Grace. The woman is nothing. I erred. I never thought you would take an interest in one so much beneath you.”

“What’s the point in being a duke if I don’t?” The query was out of his mouth before he could call it back— but he wouldn’t have, even if he could.

But to be clear, he is far from perfect.

For himself… He could rarely think of how to respond when immersed in that heady back-and-forth. Sometimes he thought of clever things to say… hours later. Usually, he committed the worst sin possible: He said what he was really thinking. That was why he came out with gems like, I like your tits. Not one of his finest moments, that.

But he is a kind man, and that is something that can be–and is–used against him. Which is the source of his problems.

Of course, we also get Sebastian, who I utterly adore.

“You know me,” Sebastian said. “I’m the soul of discretion.”

“No, you’re not. You are exactly the opposite.”

But it’s more than that. Lydia, Minnie’s best friend is so well developed she gets her own novella. And her personality is very different from Minnie.

“Every time I laugh, he looks at me, judging me for my frivolity. I can’t stand being around him.”

“I had no notion,” Minnie said, moving over to sit beside her friend.

“I work so hard for my frivolity.” Lydia’s hands were shaking. “How dare he judge me for it!”

And then there’s Oliver’s family and Robert’s relationship with them…

But what I like best is that the story isn’t over once Minnie and Robert get married–instead it continues on, showing how they learn to deal with their differences, and–we also get a surprise that is both unexpected and marvelous.

This story is complex and compelling, and even the boinking bits have parts that are fascinating and unexpected. It’s marvelous and amazing and a fantastic start to a wonderful series.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Courtney Milan

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