Unlocked by Courtney Milan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Unlocked is a fantastic short novel about a man who faces his past, and earns the love, trust, and forgiveness of the one woman he always wanted but was afraid to go after honorably, to break out of the mode of society's expectations for him.
I totally identified with Elaine. I was picked on incessantly growing up. No matter what I did, it was the focus of ridicule in school. I followed her plan of attack and withdrew into myself, pretending like it didn't matter. If you pretend like it doesn't matter, after a while, you can deal with it and keep your composure. The prey animal that runs gets chased by the predator. Ms. Milan was spot on with her psychology in this story. It felt therapeutic to me, that she could hit at the heart of such an issue that many of us experienced, and do it so well in the context of a love story. Although I could never imagine falling in love with one of my adolescent tormenters and settling into a HEA, she made it plausible, because she showed that Evan was just a man, a man who was too scared to be real and to be stand out from the crowd in a good way. I completely fell in love with Evan, for his honest desire and efforts to make amends and to be a better man. That took so much courage, more courage than climbing a mountain. Sometimes you have to go away to grow, and he did that, and came back to fulfill his destiny. And what a man he became. Also, Elaine showed courage. She was afraid to trust Evan, to believe he had changed. He proved that he had, and she took that leap of faith when it counted. And leapt right into his arms.
Courtney Milan clearly puts a lot of thought and heart into her stories, and that's why they resonate with me. She writes about men and women who I want to see happy, to see fall in love. They aren't cardboard, samey characters. They feel distinct and real to me. I liked that Evan is somewhat awkward and afraid but works past his fear. I like that Elaine has been a social failure with a mother who is so brilliant she doesn't fit into society. She gets the passionate aspects right too. They belong there, very organic to the story's development, showing the bond between the characters, so that I hold my breath with expectation. For a die-hard historical romance novel lover, it's been a bit depressing to see an endless ocean of new books out there with few that actually move me that way romance used to. I'm glad that I have Courtney Milan's books to do that for me. It feels good to be excited about reading historical romance again. Short but sweet, Unlocked is a delightful treat for the historical romantic. I highly recommend it.
Thanks for encouraging me to pull this off the pile, MrsJ!
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