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review 2016-07-15 17:39
Review: Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister #4.5) by Courtney Milan
Talk Sweetly to Me - Courtney Milan

The book starts without a cute meet, so I felt a little like I was dropped into a show where the story was already in progress. Rose and Stephen were neighbors/kind of friends when the book opens. I liked Rose, but she needed a longer book to be fully fleshed out character and to create a more believable change in her mind about falling for Stephen. Stephen first made his appearance in the previous book, so I was familiar with him. Rose is a math genius, Stephen is an expert in math puns. I really liked that this was another science-based plot, although it did have a feel of repeating Violet's and Sebastian's story from earlier in the series.

 

One thing about the story line that kept me from connecting to the romance was that Rose threw around her race and gender as the reasons why her life was much harder in Victorian England than Stephen's and why she had to be extra careful about the choices she made concerning marriage, children, work, and performing in society. I don't doubt that 1880s England was hard to live in when you are from a minority group, especially as a woman. Stephen realized how her race (especially) influenced every social interaction she has when he witnessed the doctor being racist to her and her sister. No mention of how Rose saw how hard living in Victorian England was for Stephen, an Irish Catholic - not exactly a welcoming environment. The Irish (especially the Irish Catholic) were not considered "white folk" until the 20th century; during the time of the story, they were very much "other". I felt that if Rose had a chance to see how life is as an Irish Catholic, like Stephen saw how living was for Rose as a black woman, there relationship would have had a deeper understanding to it.

 

3.5 stars.

 

 

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review 2016-07-14 21:21
Review: The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister #4) by Courtney Milan
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

A great big beautiful bounce back in 4-5 star territory with this installment of the Brothers Sinister series. Edward Clark/Edward Delacey was a gem of a hero, a break from the "perfectly perfect in every way" heroes that are found in romances. Edward has seen some shady stuff and it has given him a particular skill set that is greatly used in this book both character wise and plot wise. Edward has no F*CKS to give the world in general or British nobility crowd he was born into specifically, but is always ready to help a friend in need.

 

I had already taking a liking to Free (Fredericka) from the prior books, and this book solidifies that liking. She gives as good as she gets and is a BOSS without having to demean/demand things of her colleagues or family. She gets stuff done. The scenes between Free and Robert were really great to read.

 

Amanda (Violet's niece from the previous book) also gets her romantic storyline, and it involves one of the Johnson sisters from Jane's book. I love how Courtney Milan introduces new characters as side characters in books, then continues their smaller story lines throughout the series rather than just ignoring them after the one book appearances.

 

The angst level in this installment was lower than in previous books; with the addition of a second romantic storyline, the book had a lighter feel to it and made it a quick read. I needed the break from all the angst. 5 stars.

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review 2016-07-12 19:15
Review: The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister #3) by Courtney Milan
The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan

Trigger Warning: miscarriages, fertility issues

 

The plot line was great; Sebastian decides to stop being the face of/public lightning rod for the scientific work of Violet, Countess of Cambury. These are two characters we barely met in the first novella, then got to know through their conversations and actions in the preceding books; mostly, they work to move those books' story lines along. So I was really excited to read their story, for both the plot line and the romance. The plot line worked....the romance didn't; this ended up being the weakest book in the series so far.

 

Violet was easy to know and love in the earlier books, but in this book she was cold, brittle, and a bit cruel. She was and is an incredibly smart character, but there wasn't anything else to add to her personality. Lily (Violet's sister) was such a carbon copy of the typical titled rich bitch you would find in historical romances. Sebastian was a little too Mr. Perfect in this book and his begging for his brother's approval and Violet's love got old. This book could have benefited from cutting down on each of the characters' inner monologues and wallowing in their respective gloom and doom. Sebastian's brother was a drag to read about/read their conversations - another area for editing for a tighter story line. Robert/Minnie and Oliver/Jane were mere cardboard cut outs of their former selves.

 

The science-centered plot line was great, especially when Violet was in the courtroom, defending herself and gladly taking the credit for her work. And I really enjoyed the second conversation Violet had with her mother (Dowager Rotherham). Finally, I really enjoyed Alice Bollingall's aid in helping Violet with the biggest scientific discovery; the Bollingall's relationship, both personal and professional, was a great mirror for Sebastian and Violet's relationship.

 

Bottom line: there was too much angsty characters/situations, too much repetitive dialogue and inner monologues that brought down a decent story. 3 stars.

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review 2016-06-30 17:08
Review: The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister #2) by Courtney Milan
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan

So much awesomeness, I stayed up until 2 am reading this book. I just couldn't go to bed without knowing that ending. Much like most of Milan's work, angst level is high.

 

The main romance is between Jane Fairfield, heiress, and Oliver Marshall, aspiring politician. Jane doesn't want to marry but is forced into a situation in which she must appear to be actively seeking a husband while also trying to offend any potential suitors. The social "faux pas" is one long comedy gag, with hideous dresses to match. I loved Jane; the way she works her insults into polite dinner conversation is funny because what she is saying is true. I looked forward to each new dress and how OTT the author's imagination would go in color (and lace - lots and lots of lace). Although Jane was born into wedlock, she is the product of one of her mother's extramarital affairs; her birth father set aside 100,000 pounds for her dowry, making her attractive to titled men looking to shore up their family's finances in spite of those dresses. Also, I loved Jane's friendship with the Johnson twins.

 

Oliver the son of the series' first couple; although born in wedlock, his birth father is the former duke and his half-brother is the current duke. He is working on an important legislation; this the Reform Act goes through, he can give his step-dad a gift of gratitude for being a father to him - the right to vote. It will also help Oliver move up the political ladder, and hopefully a seat in Parliament. Oliver is a serious beta hero, and there were times in the first half of the book he seems more like a wet blanket. Jane is the one to re-lit the fire in his belly again, although he does remain a beta hero.

 

Their verbal interactions and physical embraces made their relationship real and Oliver did a proper amount of groveling at the end for my taste. I liked it best when they were working together on a scheme, as they respected each other's talents and brains. You might need a hanky for the scenes of Oliver's grief after his Aunt Freddy died (her story was so nicely woven into the bigger story).

 

The secondary romance involves Emily (Jane's younger sister) and Anjan Bhattacharyra, a law student at Cambridge. I loved their story, both as individuals and as a couple. I have a special interest in Emily, who has epilepsy ("fits" to use the layman's term from the era). Emily's epilepsy manifests itself differently than what many people think of epileptic seizures. I pretty much cried over the fact that an author really understood the many different types/manifests of epilepsy - from the triggers, to the auras (vision, auditory, and smell), to the seizures themselves, and finally the recovery. It was also realistic that very quack snake oil salesman and "experimental" medicine doctor tried to cure her condition. Anjan knew what he was getting into when he embarked on a relationship with Emily, as she had a seizure during their cute meet - and he wasn't scared off. Emily saw the racism Anjan was forced to endure during their cute meet. Both of them went into their relationship with eyes wide open, despite their youth. I liked the scene with Anjan's mom meeting Emily for the first time. Rock on Emily and Anjan!

 

5 stars. COYER eligible.

 

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review 2016-05-02 19:01
Review: A Kiss for Midwinter (Brothers Sinister #1.5) by Courtney Milan
A Kiss for Midwinter - Courtney Milan

This was a fun book that did not really get too bog down into Christmas holiday madness, making the reading easier as today was a rainy Monday in May. I liked the story a lot and I really liked the MCs, but was a little bogged down by the sex scene. It was a bit longer than a novella (roughly 250 NOOK pages), but the length felt right for the story.

 

Bets/wagers are also a favorite plot trope of mine, especially when the MCs discover/admit their feelings to themselves about half-way through the wager and scheme to get the other person to win. It was angsty, but a little lighter than book one and about the same level as the prequel. Some subjects this book covers include miscarriages, hoarding as a mental disorder and part of the aging process, and old school medicine vs. new school medicine.

 

Another favorite is specific to Milan's historical romances - her author's note detailing the research finds and how those finds weave into the story. This author's note was especially enlightening and entertaining.

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