Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: Unveiled - Courtney Milan

Review: Even though I've only read one of her novels and one novella, I'm already a huge Courtney Milan fan.  Unveiled is another great story with well-developed characters and a story that sucks you in until you can't put it down.

Ash Turner set out for India at the age of 14 to make his fortune in an attempt to save his two younger brothers and provide them a better life.  Before that time, Ash had made a desperate plea to the Duke of Parford, a distant relative, for help to save his desperately ill sister.  The Duke was wholly unsympathetic (to say the least) and sent Ash on his way.  Ash swore revenge, and we begin the book with his having succeeded.

Ash provided evidence  that the Duke had already been married when he married the woman believed to have been the Duchess of Parford...the woman who produced the Duke's three children and his heir.  By proving that the Duke was a bigamist, the Duke's three children were declared illegitimate, leaving Ash as the Duke's heir.  As we meet Ash, he and his youngest brother, Mark, are arriving to spend the summer at one of the Duke's estates, the same estate where the Duke is living in desperately failing health.

The Duke's daughter, Margaret, has had her life turned upside down.  Not only has she been deemed illegitimate, she has lost her family name, her friends and her fiance.  Her brothers, however, still have hope that they can regain the family name, and have left Margaret at the estate to spy on Ash and provide them with ammunition to support their plan.  Margaret, in the guise of the Duke's nurse, is not known to Ash, who doesn't realize that she is the Duke's daughter.

Unveiled is the story of Ash and Margaret.  Ash is a hero you fall in love with.  He's far from perfect - brash, arrogant, harsh in some ways, brutal in others - he's also kind, responsible, brilliant and would do anything to give his family a better life.  Margaret is also a likable character, you can't help but feel for her as she attempts to regain her bearings.  Neglected horribly by her family, it's not until Ash comes along, with some of his revolutionary ideas, that Margaret really begins to learn who she is and finally feel comfortable with herself, gaining courage and independence.

As Ash and Margaret fall in love, Margaret is placed into a horrible situation.  How can she choose between Ash, the man she loves, and her family?  While this seems like a cut and dry story, it's far from it.  It's so well developed, the characters are used to play out the numerous family dramas and relationships and yet that doesn't overshadow the ways the characters themselves grow throughout the book and the numerous interrelationships and secrets.  Ms. Milan's books do a great job of using the time period that the story is set in, yet challenging the accepted perceptions of the time and incorporating characters that fall in many ways outside the "norm" of those you see in many historical romance novels. 

I don't want to give anything away about this story, I want you to enjoy it and the various emotional twists and turns as much as I did.  The side stories and characters are wonderful, and I'm very much looking forward to the stories of Ash's brothers down the road.

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