Trial by Desire (Carhart, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart #2
Published by HQN Books on September 28th 2010
TRIAL BY DESIRE is the second novel in the Carhart series. It is the sequel to PROOF BY SEDUCTION and fans of that book will be happy to see Ned Carhart get his happy ever after. In PERIOD BY SEDUCTION, Ned gets married after mistakenly compromising Lady Kathleen. This book takes place three years later. Ned, who is bipolar (though it is never called as such in the book) left because of his struggles with depression. He has now returned to a wife he barely knows. Kate has spent the years that Ned has been away helping women flee their abusive husbands.
This story is about two people who have secrets and yet are married. I liked how Milan makes these two characters struggle. There are no magic answers in this book. At the end, Ned still struggles, but has learned to struggle with Kate. I thought that was a wonderful and hopeful message.
The edition I read is an enhanced version that includes some additional material from the author including deleted scenes, commentary, pictures and some small audio clips. While these enhancements are not extensive, they are an interesting addition. For example, I learned how difficult this book was for Milan to write and how many problems she still had with it.
Proof by Seduction (Carhart, #1) by Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart #1
Published by Entangled: Edge on July 7th 2014
Story of People Trapped By Their Pasts
PROOF BY SEDUCTION is the first book in the Carhart series (there is a prequel novella as well). It is the story of Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely who is determined to save his cousin from the fraudulent fortune teller who Gareth believes is taking advantage of his cousin. Madame Esmerelda is actually Jenny Keeble who doesn’t intend to allow Gareth to judge her as unworthy.
This is Milan’s first book and is not as polished as her more recent books. Milan, however, has such an interesting take on characters. Jenny and Gareth are an interesting mix of hope and despair, optimist and pessimist. Both are constrained by what they see as their role in life although Jenny had taken the “bad” road while Gareth never deviates from what he sees as his role as Marquess. Jenny is adorable in this book and Gareth is hard to like because he protects himself with coldness and he has trouble connecting with people. I liked how Jenny challenges Gareth and he changes.
I ultimately liked this story because I felt that there was real change and growth in the characters.
The version I have is an enhanced edition that includes some additional information that reveals Milan’s thoughts about the book and explains some of the events, relationships, and quirks of the book.
This Wicked Gift (Carhart, #0.5) by Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart #0.5
Published by Entangled: Edge on July 7th 2014
Interesting Twist on Premise
THE WICKED GIFT is a prequel novella for the Carhart series. It is the story of William White who has had his eye on Lavinia Spencer for a year. William is barely getting by and has no prospects for marriage because although he was raised as middle class, he had slipped down the social ladder. When William discovers that Lavinia’s brother is in debt, William spends his entire ten pounds to but her brother’s note so that he can blackmail Lavinia into going to bed with him. Lavinia is not about to allow William to control her. I loved their relationship and how William and Lavinia grow and change and manage to find a better life together. This prequel is not about aristocrats or gentry and this gives a different view than most historical.
The version I have has additional supplemental content by the author. There is nothing earth shattering here, but some of the material is very interesting especially about the dilemma that William faces.
In Which Madame Esmerelda Makes a Prediction by Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart #0.3
This is a short story that tells a story of the heroine of PROOF OF SEDUCTION acting in her guise as Madame Esmerelda. It really assumes that you already know the story of PROOF OF SEDUCTION and it is a nice add on to the series but should be read after PROOF OF SEDUCTION.
Dark Horizon by Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart #0.25
Dark Horizon is a short vignette set in the Carhart world (#0.25) and tells a story of Gareth Carhart’s trip to Brazil and the dangers involved. This is a nice add on to the series but doesn’t substitute for any of the books. I appreciate the additional content but it is for fans of the series rather than a new reader.