Review: The Heiress Effect

Review: The Heiress EffectThe Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #2
Published by Courtney Milan on July 15th 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 280
Goodreads
four-stars

Beautifully Crafted Story

THE HEIRESS EFFECT is the second novel in the Brothers Sinister series. It is the story of Oliver Marshall, the illegitimate son of the former Duke of Clermont and half brother to the current duke. Oliver was raised in humble circumstances (see the prequel THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR for the story of his parents) but has great ambitions. He meets Jane Fairfield who definitely doesn’t fit into his plans.

I really didn’t expect to like this story. Oliver was too judgemental and too rigid in the beginning of the book. He treats Jane in an abominable fashion by treating her like she is not good enough. When I started reading the book, I skipped around to get an idea of the plot and I really, really did not like Oliver. Thus, why one should read the book. Milan has done a great job of making over complicated characters. Oliver and Jane are not simplistic characters. They are not purely good. They make bad decisions. They contemplate bad things. By the end of the book, I had sympathy for Oliver and as Jane was able to forgive him, so was I.

Although this is the second full novel, it is not necessary to have read the first. It would be good to read the prequel THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR because it really sets up Oliver’s story.

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four-stars

Review: Talk Sweetly to Me

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Talk Sweetly to MeTalk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister, #4.5) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #4.5
Published by Courtney Milan on August 18th 2014
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-half-stars

TALK SWEETLY TO ME is billed as a coda to the fabulous Brothers Sinister series. The novella tells the story of Stephen Shaughnessy, who was introduced in THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL. Stephen writes a column for a women’s newspaper. (As an aside, the column is hysterical and THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL is worth reading just to catch up on them.)

In this novella, Shephen meets Rose Sweetly. Rose is a mathematician who helps with calculations regarding astronomical issues. Stephen and Rose live close to one another and Stephen loves to hear Rose talk about mathematics. Rose is intrigued with Stephen, but she is wary of him because he has a reputation as a rake and also because she is of African descent, she fears that he might believe she has loose morals.

This novella is short, but I loved the interaction between Rose and Stephen. Rose is brilliant and Stephen is clearly entranced with her. The story between the two is sweet and caring. The story reminds me somewhat of THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY, but with much less angst and pain.

The edge in this story comes from the racism and sexism of the society at large. What brings the characters together is that they both represent outsiders in society. Rose is black and is a brilliant female in a predominately male field. Stephen writes for a feminist newspaper and is an Irish Catholic. At one point, Rose points out that any children they would have would be black Irish Catholics and all of their lives would be immensely difficult.

Milan writes original stories. It is difficult that seduction and romance can be expressed through mathematics, but that is exactly what happens here.

This novella doesn’t have the complexity of a full-length novella, but I found it a beautiful addition to THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL. There are no appearances by other characters of the series so fans may be disappointed, but new readers can pick this one up without missing much (although it is best read after THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL because a reader will get to know Stephen better).

NOTE: I received a ARC copy of this book through Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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four-half-stars

Review: The Suffragette Scandal

Review: The Suffragette ScandalThe Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #4
Published by Courtney Milan on July 15th 2014
Genres: Historical
Pages: 260
Goodreads
four-half-stars

THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL is the fourth novel in the Brothers Sinister Series. It can be read independent of all the others, but the others are so good that a reader should start with the prequel novella THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR. THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL is the story of Frederica “Free” Marshall, the younger sister of Oliver from THE HEIRESS EFFECT. Free is a modern, strong, independent woman. She is a supporter of women’s rights and runs her own newspaper. Edward Clark is a self proclaimed scoundrel. Having been abandoned by his aristocratic family, Edward has spent years making himself. He returns to England to help an old friend and ends up involved with Free.

I loved this book. Free and Edward are characters that I haven’t seen before. Free is strong and independent without being strident and yet has brought pain to herself. Edward is damaged and believes himself unworthy of a happy ending. These two are haunted by their pasts but Edward has a very poor self image. I liked how adult and reasonable these two are. This book is also funny. From the beginning Free and Edward have a repartee that had me lagging, smirking and giggling. For me the pages flew in this book.

The romance ended up being sweeter than I expected, but I was completely happy with how the book turned out. Milan has a wonderful way of subverting expectations and tropes. The language, characters and resolutions always end up being fresh and vibrant. The previous heroes and heroines appear but not in ways that works befuddle new readers.

There is one additional novella that follows that will finish off this series. Huzzah!

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four-half-stars

Review: The Countess Conspiracy

Review: The Countess ConspiracyThe Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #3
Published by Courtney Milan on December 16th 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 309
Goodreads
five-stars

Friends to Lovers

THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY is the third novel in the Brothers Sinister series. It is the story of Sebastian Malheur and Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. Sebastian and Violet have been friends almost all their lives. They share a secret but also have deep secrets from one another. The shared secret is that the scientific research that Sebastian is known for is actually Violet’s. In an age where women were not accepted for their intellectual gifts, the two created a way for her work to be accepted.

I absolutely loved this book. From the beginning Violet and Sebastian have an incredible relationship that is founded on respect. Sebastian has loved Violet for years and has always cared for her. I don’t think I have read a romance book with such a unique relationship. Both Sebastian and Violet present facades to the world but know one another. As they discover the secrets that they kept for one another, they discover how to make the transition to lovers.

This book was not a lighthearted read. Violet’s secret is heart wrenching and it makes the relationship between Sebastian and Violet complex and serious. I won’t give away her secret here since it is central to the story, but it and the entire storyline demonstrates how oppressed women were in that era. This book makes the point without being preachy or anachronistic.

I love the strong women that Milan creates. Violet is fallible and sometimes weak, but she is intelligent and strong and independent. The complexity of her characters is amazing.

A beautiful book that I immediately wanted to read again.

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five-stars

Review: A Kiss For Midwinter

Review: A Kiss For MidwinterA Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #1.5
Published by Smashwords Edition on December 18th 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 121
Goodreads
four-stars

Romance Between Two Prickly Characters

A KISS FOR MIDWINTER is a novella in the Brothers Sinister series. It is the story of Lydia Charingford, Minera’s friend in THE DUCHESS WAR, who was seduced at left pregnant at the age of fifteen. Doctor Jonas Grantham is a bad reminder of that time since he was observing Lydia’s doctor during her pregnancy. Five years later, he has met her anew and fallen in love with her. However, he is part of her bad memory.

This is a novella and the story is short, but it did not feel rushed to me. These two characters are very forthright. They speak plainly and their romance is very straightforward. Lydia has further to travel in this book. She was Hubert very badly and has not truly dealt with her pain. It is easier for her to dislike Jonas as a reminder of her past than to deal with her feelings for him.

This book is a nice Christmas treat that clears up Lydia’s story and only tangentially touches upon the main story from the Brothers Sinister series.

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four-stars

Review: The Duchess War

Review: The Duchess WarThe Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #1
Published by Courtney Milan on December 8th 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 270
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Very Enjoyable Book

THE DUCHESS WAR is the first novel in the Brothers Sinister series. It is the story of Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, who suffers from the evil that his father did. Robert is a good man, and a radical, who wants to use his position for changing the world. He meets Minerva Lane, who has made a point of hiding because of her scandalous past.

This book took a while to really grab me. There is a lot of set up involved in the story and at times the threads of the story just went on and on. However, by the middle of the book, I began to really love the character of Robert, who is sensitive and caring. He lived such a sad life but did not become hardened.

These two characters have a slow building relationship that I really enjoyed. These were two people who had seen a hard world and yet found in each other a kindred spirit.

Spoilers: I really loved that Robert and Minerva were both virgins on their wedding night and that things did not go perfectly, but that they worked through learning together. There was something really real and sweet about them.

I look forward to the other books in the series. There is a great introduction to them here.

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four-half-stars

Review: The Governess Affair

Review: The Governess AffairThe Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister #0.5
Published by Courtney Milan on April 21st 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 110
Goodreads
four-stars

Good Novella Prequel

THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR is the prequel to the Brothers Sinister series. It is the story of Serena Barton who was raped and left pregnant by the Duke of Clermont. She is seeking recompense for her and her child. Hugo Marshall, known as the Wolf of Clermont, has the job of taking care of the Duke’s problems and finances. Hugo soon begins to have feelings for Serena and has to make a choice between his future and Serena.

I liked this story. My only complaint is that considering the seriousness of Serena’s story, I thought that it was too quickly resolved. For me, she too quickly got over her rape and moved on. I think this would have been better as a full length novel. That being said, it was well done considering the length. The characters were well drawn and I really liked the romance between the two. The notes and letters between the two are classic — funny and romantic.

It made me interested in reading the other books of the series, which is the goal, I think.

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four-stars