Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Turner, #2
Publisher: HQN Books
Hero: Mark Turner
Heroine: Jessica Farleigh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 27, 2011
Started On: April 06, 2020
Finished On: April 09, 2020

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan is book 2 in the Turner series, the debut book of which I skipped and jumped straight to this one. Unclaimed can definitely be read as a standalone, as I could follow the unravelling story just fine.

It has been a while since I have read a Courtney Milan. Though her books receive rave reviews from readers now and again, I have found her books a bit bland for my tastes at times, steeped in too much bantering back and forth between the main protagonists, perhaps in a bid to show the intelligence behind her characters. But seeing a glowing review of Unclaimed on Instagram made me want to see what the fuss was about; after all, who doesn’t love a hero who is a stickler for principles and presents a cold-hearted front to the rest of the world, while inside he is teeming and burning with fire and desire to be unleashed on the right woman? I have read a couple of books of the type, the last one I read being Laura Lee Gurhke’s Secret Desires of a Gentleman which I absolutely adored. So of course, I had to see what the fuss was about.

28 year old Sir Mark Turner finds himself in the intriguing company of Mrs. Jessica Farleigh, who presents herself as a widower. While Jessica is a courtesan who wants out of the business, having grown wary of the life of servitude that she had been forced into, seducing Mark is her way out.

Mark, being the author of A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity has a reputation that precedes him, where people put him on a pedestal and likens him to a saint who is exempt from desire and sins altogether. However, Mark is the farthest thing from that, and it is one of the aspects of his life that troubles him, which is the reason why he retires to the country for a while, trying to regain his balance from all that is required of him.

When Jessica turns up in his life, Mark finds himself sorely tempted by the woman who is an enigma on many levels. While her intentions are obvious enough, her body language tells a tale of its own, which makes Mark wonder and dig deeper where she is concerned.

While the romance between Mark and Jessica turned out okay for me, the most intriguing aspect of the novel for me were the brothers themselves; the Duke, Mark, and then Smite if I am recalling his name correctly. The bond between the brothers and the premise upon which Courtney has created their characters was fascinating. I found each of them unique in their own way, with a bond that holds strong – that was how I felt during the sneak peeks into their characters, seen through the eyes of Mark.

I found the heroine to be just okay. Apart from Jessica being a coutesean who had been forced into the situation by an act of youthful indiscretion on her part, the rest of her was just average in my opinion. What she went through with her last paramour and how she had come to detest the touch of a man on her body, how she awakens to the touch of true desire; all of that failed to move me in a way that was significant.

Mark’s character was also pretty much the same – he is a beta hero which was rightfully pointed out in a review I came across. While the entire populace tries to label him as a saint, untouched by worldly desires, Mark reiterates over and over that he in fact he is not one. And he proves the same, even though he sticks to his principles and stays true to the course of not hurting a woman and leaving her in the lurch.

I found his thoughts on marriage profound – chastity and fidelty in a marriage depending on being married to a person who is worthy of it perhaps? Or moreover, someone who is your everything, someone who desires you, wants you, is captivated by you, and you return those feelings just the same. Having common interests and values is important, and at the same time, Mark’s views on settling for someone just because, struck a chord deep inside of me. I am guessing it would for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship and have had those questions of what-if once in a while.

While I enjoyed those thought provoking bits and pieces in the novel, I skipped some huge chunks of the story towards the end, just because I wanted to find out how it all ended. Recommended for those who love Courtney Milan’s voice in the genre.

Final Verdict: Unclaimed is a story that seeks to see the world through the eyes of a male protagonist who holds virtue to a higher degree than most, and the woman who is made for him who has defied all those conventions.

Favorite Quotes

“Mrs. Farleigh.” His words were choked. “You have no idea how long I have waited for someone to recognize that. I’m not an innocent. I’ve never been innocent. And yet I’m treated as if I were some sort of divine being, untouched by lust.”
She swallowed.
“It cheapens what I’ve accomplished,” Mark said, “to imagine me a saint. To believe I am untempted, that I pass through this life without feeling lust or want or desire. I said it in the first chapter of my book, and yet nobody seems to believe me. Chastity is hard.”
“I hadn’t thought—”
“I want. I lust. I desire.” He scrubbed his hand through sandy blond hair at that, shaking his head. “No. You’re right. You don’t deserve euphemisms. I want you. I lust after you. I desire you.”

She reached down to touch his erection. It was heavy in her hand, the head wet already. He hissed, his hands clutching her arms, as she stroked down his length.
She slid up onto her knees. One of his hands clasped her waist. He was the one to adjust his member into place, the one to set his hands on her hips. He was the one to apply just the slightest pressure. This wasn’t possible.
It was possible.
And then, it simply was.
His hands clenched around her arms. His breath came in explosive little gasps. His body entered hers—not in possession, but in desire.

It felt fragile, that kiss. As if this, too, would break. As if the future could rise up and choke the life from even this mutual desire. But he pressed her against the wall, and there was nothing delicate about his want. She couldn’t envision the future, but she comprehended this now—the hard ridge of his lust against her belly, the demands of his mouth, her own lust rising, hard and fast. She brought one leg up to draw him in. “Hold me,” she explained, guiding his hands to her hips. It took a few moments for him to get the idea—a few seconds until he slid inside her once more.
Each thrust speared through her uncertainty, each kiss grounded her. His hands held her up. When she came, it shattered her anxiety, splintering dark fears away.
His orgasm followed, fierce and relentless.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBooks

ARC Review: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Format: E-bookthecountessconspiracy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brothers Sinister, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Sebastian Malheur
Heroine: Violet Marie Waterfield
Sensuality: 2.9
Date of Publication: December 16, 2013
Started On: December 22, 2013
Finished On: December 24, 2013

Why do books that you have been anticipating for so much so that you stalk the author’s website on regular basis just to find out whether the release date of the book you are coveting for has drawn any nearer always tends to disappoint you the most? The Countess Conspiracy has been THE book that I have been waiting for ever since I read and fell in love with The Duchess War, the first book in the Brothers Sinister series. Each book had drawn out my fascination with Sebastian, the rake with the scandalous scientific theories that had society in titters. And then there was Violet, the countess of Cambury who seemed to be the object of Sebastian’s affection, and oh how I used to rub my hands in glee waiting for the day that Sebastian would fall flat on his face with want, desire and need for Violet.

Instead of the storyline that I had been rooting for, Courtney veered the story in a direction totally unexpected; even that I could have worked with if not for the fact that both Sebastian and Violet’s characters did a complete about turn that had me dumbfounded to say the least. The Countess Conspiracy is based on the fact that Violet had been living a lie for the past couple of years, making use of Sebastian to hide who she really is, until Sebastian puts his foot down and tells Violet in no uncertain terms that continuing as they had been would be an impossibility for him.

Violet though feels that keen sense of loss from losing her closest friend, the only person in the world who sees her for who she is and understands her, doesn’t know what to do in the face of all that emotion. If not for Sebastian who kept on doggedly coming after her, steady in his determination to win over the affections of the woman he has loved more than half of his life, I bet Violet would just have continued on as she is, thinking, that just like everyone else, Sebastian too had had his fill of her.

As one reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, as a pioneer of science, Violet totally earns 5 stars and beyond. As a romance hero, she somehow fell flat and didn’t stir much of an interest in me. In all the other books in which I encountered Violet’s character, never did I come to see her as someone who is prickly, indifferent and cold. But that is exactly what Violet thinks herself to be and the image that she tries to live up to, always expecting that when it comes to her, no one would truly understand or love her the way she is. There is a psychological factor to it all of course, behind how Violet actually turns out to be the way she is.

Sebastian turned out to be the biggest surprise in one aspect because he used to be the character that completely stirred things up, always said the very thing that would rouse wicked thoughts and brought every scene he stepped into life. But his character is not what it was portrayed to be then, perhaps that was what Courtney was going for when she made him into the patient man who would wait by Violet’s side, even if it takes forever for her to look up and notice him, really notice him for all that he is.

The note tucked at the end of the story was a moving one, one of the main reasons that I believe Courtney wrote this story as it is. She wanted to give a voice to all those women who had been shunned by society for being more intelligent than men, she wanted to give women silenced eons ago who had to hide behind men who took credit for their work a voice because simply put it just wasn’t acceptable for a woman to think and come up with complex theories that could change the world. And in that regard, Courtney did a stupendous job at the cost of the romantic elements in the story which left me totally unmoved which turned out to be the most heartbreaking aspect of it all.

But perhaps, fans of romances featuring tender, patient heroes would fall in love with Sebastian and Violet’s love story. Though The Countess Conspiracy did not work for me, I still look forward to the next book and hopefully it will fulfill me and my thirst for a good romance along with a great storyline altogether in one. Recommended for fans of the series!

Favorite Quotes

“Sebastian,” she whispered.
“At your service.”
She kissed him. She’d kissed him once before in fury and anguish. But this was different. This was a kiss that came from every ventricle of her heart, every last valve. All four chambers of her heart pumped for him. And it was a damned good thing he didn’t know what she was thinking, or he’d realize that she had gone mad.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords


ARC Review: The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Format: E-booktheheiresseffect.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brothers Sinister, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Oliver Marshall
Heroine: Jane Victoria Fairfield
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 15, 2013
Started On: July 14, 2013
Finished On: July 17, 2013

He wanted her, everything about her.
Everything except… Her.

Oliver Marshall is a duke’s son born on the wrong side of the blanket. Though Oliver hadn’t wanted for much as far as familial love went, society had never let him forget that he would always be left wanting because his father had never claimed Oliver rightfully as his. Ambitious & driven by the need to prove himself, Oliver is a man at times torn between the desire to do whats right and walk a bit on the darker side for the greater good, or so he tells himself.

Miss Jane Victoria Fairfield or the Feather Heiress as she is famous for has only one goal in mind. Protect her younger sister Emily at all and any cost, even if means making a spectacle of herself in the society. Jane counts herself as a loner, fighting a lonely & dangerous battle if the ones that hold the power in their hands were ever to figure out just how good she is at deceiving them into believing what she wants them to believe. Never quite seeming to fit in, Jane is the one that vividly stands out, a little too loud & bold for society’s comfort.

When Oliver’s ambitions collide in the path that Jane walks upon, Oliver is decidedly torn on whether to carry through with the nefarious task designated to him, which would be oh so easy if it were’t for the fact that Jane and her plight seems to echo a bit too closely with what Oliver had experienced during his childhood and adolescence. Somehow, the woman that Oliver bluntly says is the opposite of what he wants as a wife begins to grow on him, the taunting memories and dreams on the impossible woman for him being oh so deliciously right for him driving him to the brink of wanting that refuses to be denied. But the ultimate question lies in whether Oliver would be courageous enough to take that step towards accepting the fact he needs Jane in his life or would he walk on the path society dictates and leave Jane behind, even if it tears him into bits and pieces on the inside.

Set in Cambridgeshire of England in 1867, The Heiress Effect is the second full length novel in the Brothers Sinister series. Told from viewpoints of multiple characters, The Heiress Effect can be read as a standalone though I’d recommend reading at least The Duchess War before proceeding with The Heiress Effect.

You know those books that are hard to part with, not because it didn’t give you what you wanted but because it delivered exactly and rightly what you wanted that they are hard to let go? Well, The Heiress Effect is a book of the sort that makes you want to soak up and wallow in the emotions left behind in the wake of the story for a day or two before even attempting to pick up another book to read.

Courtney Milan skyrocketed her way to my auto-buy list of authors right after my very first novel from her which was the first book in the series. Ever since, I’ve been waiting a tad impatiently for the rest of the books in the series to come out and Courtney certainly have made the wait worthwhile. There are authors who can draw you into the story just be the prose & at times poetic and hypnotic writing style that begs a reader to lose themselves in the unfolding story. And Courtney definitely is one of them.

There are so many things I loved about The Heiress Effect. Namely Jane’s character that surprised, beguiled and made me fall in love just like that. The strength of her character and the burdens she shoulders all alone is admirable, her honesty refreshing and the way she cannot help but talk a person’s ear off when nervous endearing. The fact that Jane stayed true to her character, even towards the beautiful little epilogue tucked at the end which takes place 6 years down the line was what made the story in my opinion. I’ve seen very few authors manage to keep a character true to who they are, and so Courtney, I bow down to the refreshing honesty the story brought forward.

Oliver is definitely not the type of hero you’d go gaga over because of his good looks, rather you go crazy over him in spite of all of that. He might not be handsome in the classical sense but he more than makes up for it by that sheer intensity of his character alone. He has this way of saying certain things like, “Keep talking Jane”, which might be a very innocent statement given the circumstances and all, but the way he says it goes deep and I was sighing over his fascination with Jane and how out of character she makes him feel.

The secondary romance tucked into the story was a delight to read as well, not to mention other characters such as Oliver’s younger sister Free and his aunt Freddy that lends the story an extra richness that at times brought tears to my eyes. Courtney Milan just doesn’t write a romance, she paints a beautiful masterpiece everytime she puts pen to paper and that’s exactly why I’d always keep coming back for more. I cannot wait for Sebastian’s story to come out. I have a feeling that the pages are practically going to explode from the sheer force of his character alone which I am absolutely looking forward to!

Recommended for fans of Courtney Milan, fans of the series and practically EVERYONE who loves a good romance that can make you sigh and swoon in all the right doses. This one’s for you!

Final Verdict: Poignant, beautiful and poetic, there are few authors who can rival what Courtney Milan brings to the genre.

Favorite Quotes

She kissed him back, lips to lips, and then tongue to tongue. She kissed him until he wasn’t sure who was kissing and who was kissing back. The kiss took on a life of its own, roaring through his blood. As if somehow, if he kissed her hard enough, he could avoid the past and the future altogether. He might stay in the present forever.

And then there was just him—his weight, his breath, his body bearing her down, joining with her so intimately. His hands, turning her face up to his, and his kiss, warm and sweet on her lips. There was no other time at all.
Just now.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords


Review: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Format: E-booktheduchesswar
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brothers Sinister, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Robert Alan Graydon Blaisdell
Heroine: Willhelmina Pursling
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 6, 2012
Started On: February 10, 2013
Finished On: February 13, 2013

What an utterly beautifully captivating story. I finished this book in the wee hours of the morning and I was so overwhelmed by the emotions that raced through me all throughout the read, sometimes taking me unawares, other times caressing me with a gentleness and bittersweetness that made me want to weep; needless to say my very first Courtney Milan definitely impressed me beyond any level of expectation that I had when I first started reading.

The Duchess War begins with a glimpse into the very interesting and contrasting character of Willhelmina Pursling (Minnie), whose very entrance into the novel begins with her encounter with the ninth Duke of Clermont Robert Alan Graydon Blaisdell. Dressed rather severely and buttoned up to the extent that nobody would give her a passing glance, Minnie would rather she never be the focus of attention of anyone for long. But her days of hiding behind her the fortress that she has built around herself and perfected over the years are over when Robert enters her life and makes her yearn for the impossible.

Robert’s one mission in his life has always been to stay off the path his father had walked on as much as possible. Going as far as to atone for the bundles his father has made along the way, Robert is unlike any duke you would meet in any book. Well, I certainly haven’t come across any duke like Robert and that’s saying something since I have read my fair share of historical romances back in the day. Now, it is authors like Sherry Thomas and Jeannie Lin that makes me come back for more of a genre which I usually shy away from reading and with The Duchess War, Courtney Milan certainly has earned herself a spot in my list of authors to look out for when pursuing historical romances.

The Duchess War is certainly by no means your usual run of the mill variety historical romance. Contrary to that its comprised of complex characters which I had a hard time placing whether they belonged in the “good guys” category or not. Needless to say, Courtney continuously kept surprising me with the depth to her characters as she unraveled the story, one layer at a time and gives the reader an experience or rather a journey that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

There were times when I thought that I would hate Minnie for the choices that she seemed on the brink of making. But then I should have known better than that and trusted Courtney to do what fans of her books always rave about – that she delivers and hits all the spots and then some. And that was exactly what happened with each of her characters and the story that kept spinning its magic on me until I turned the very last page and heaved a sigh of contentment that would definitely have been heard from all corners of the Earth; if not for my need to quietly contemplate on what the story had done to me and my emotions.

Robert’s character is so so wonderful that it just begs some gushing on my part before I end the review. There were times I wanted to weep for the boy that had been the object of the tug of war contest between his parents, a boy who had grown up thinking himself to be unworthy of love of the lasting kind. A parliamentarian at the young age of 28, Robert is a champion of the underdog, someone who detests what the peerage system means. And above that all he is a man who has contained his passionate side for far too long and when he does start on the journey of discovery, boy does he make up for lost time and then some. The love scenes were so tastefully done and made me burn like a furnace that would never run out of wood anytime soon. Trust me on that.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about a book that wooed me in all the ways that counts. As a true lover of romance I definitely could not have asked for more.

Absolutely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Look in a mirror sometime,” he suggested. “Look beyond this.” He touched his cheekbone, mirroring the spot on her face where her scar spread. “Look at yourself sometime the way you are now, all fire and anger, ready to do battle with me. If you’d ever once looked at yourself that way, you wouldn’t question whether I’d want a flirtation with you. You’d know I would.”

Her head remained stubbornly bowed before him. He wanted to grab her and shake her. He wanted to tilt her chin up and force her to gaze in his eyes. He wanted –
He wanted to do a great many things after that, none of which he was going to get from her by force.
“I’m not pretending to flirt with you,” he said instead. “There’s no pretense in it. I want you. God, I want you.”
She let out a little gasp and then – almost involuntarily – she looked up.
For just one moment, he saw something he thought was not pretense – a hopeless yearning in the way her face tilted toward his, a flutter in her ragged exhalation. Her lips parted, and she seemed suddenly, devastatingly beautiful.

“Indeed,” Violet said. Don’t mind us. We’re scarcely even here. And rest assured, if you’d like to talk of secrets, I’ll never repeat one. I’m known for my trustworthiness.”
“This is true,” Sebastian said. “The Countess of Cambury is like a deep, dark hole – secrets go in, but none of them ever come out.”
“Sebastian,” Violet replied calmly looping the yarn about one of her needles, “it is neither proper nor respectful to let a woman know that you think of her as nothing more than a hole.”

Her hips rose to his. Her hand continued its motion, an added stimulation at the base of his cock. He could feel her pleasure all around him, first ebbing, and then gathering again as he took her. And as if the dam had been broken to bits with her first orgasm, this time she came quickly – in scarcely a minute, her release a scalding hot wash of pure lust that had her clamping down on him.
He couldn’t have enough of her. He pounded into her again and again, each thrust better than the last, each one building, building to a crescendo that washed over him in fierce waves. It was almost painful, his second release. It was messy and slippery and wrong, and it felt so, so damned right.

“It’s a good thing you have hold of your urges,” she said, more quietly, “because I’m so wet now, and it would be dreadfully embarrassing if you were to – “
He lifted her against the wall, wrapped her legs around him, and slid inside her. She was wet, so wet, and hot. The pleasure of her body, clasped around him, was so intense that it almost hurt. The light rhythmic sway of the car rocked him into her.
He braced them against the wall, his muscles straining.
“That’s right, Robert.” Her arms cane around him. “That’s right. Just like that.”

She came around him, tightening in waves of pulsating heat around his cock. And he pounded into her, hard at first, and then even harder, until his own climax came. In the moment when he spilled his seed, he imagined them connected by far more than the scrape of his teeth against her jaw, the tangle of their hands, the clamp of her legs still wrapped around him. It was more than just the physical act of burying himself in her body.
In that moment, for the first time in his life, Robert believed that there was someone for him.

He stood. She couldn’t read his expression at all.
But then he put his hands on her shoulders, and, when she looked up at him, he kissed her. He kissed her with no finesse, no gentleness. He kissed her with all the emotion that he hadn’t shown since he’d walked in the door – fiercely, savagely, as if he’d returned from an absence of ten years and needed to remind her of everything that had happened. His arms came around her, wrapping her to him as tightly as chains. He was scorching heat against her.

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