Unveiled by Courtney Milan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ms. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for Suitors\ This Wicked Gift. I loved the way she wrote her hero and heroine, and knew she was a writer I wanted to follow. I'm glad that she had written another story that I felt that way about. Her characters are very well-crafted, deep, complex, and textured. I found myself continually evaluating things from each one's perspective, and it was difficult to 'choose sides', which is a good thing. In real life, no person is all good and bad (at least for the most part). We are a complex mix of both, and we often make decisions out of our human drives, sometimes good and sometimes bad. In the case of Ash and Margaret, I could see what drove them, and I felt for them both. Family is very important to me as well, and even though I don't always like everything my family does, I love them, and I'd do anything for them. That's why I couldn't get mad either at Ash or Margaret at the choices they made. Even though their brothers didn't always understand the sacrifices they made for them, it was both characters' choices to give up so much for the love of their siblings. In the end, I was glad that they found each other, and realized that someone saw them truly and loved them honestly. I was glad they found their other halves, because I think that this kind of love is so valuable to humans, and they both needed it. It takes a writer of considerable skill to create such real, lovable characters, and Ms. Milan shows it.
I loved the intensity of her writing, and the strength of the story here, a romance, and a good one, but something more. I liked how she integrated the sensual moments into this love story, making them intrinsic to the development of the relationship between Ash and Margaret. I liked that Ash saw Margaret and knew she was what he wanted and needed. I liked that even though it was a seemingly bad idea to fall for Ash, Margaret did anyway. I know that she had some tough choices to make, and I was glad that she was able to make a choice that was right for her, down deep, and that that choice included Ash. I was glad their feelings for each other, that trust and understanding of each other stayed true, even in the face of what seemed insurmountable. I also loved the authenticity of the Victorian setting, drawn in subtle strokes, but very evident. I could tell that the author knows her subject, and she managed to convey that without overwhelming the narrative with facts about Victorian England and inheritance law.
Giving this book five stars is a foregone conclusion, based on its many strengths, and how much I enjoyed reading it. It was deep, rich, fascinating, sensual, intense, and rewarding. All the things I love about historical romance. Highly recommended.
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