Bitchin' Blog Posts
Author: Courtney Milan
Publication Info: Harlequin 2011
Genre: Historical: European
Ash Turner has waited a lifetime to seek revenge on the man who ruined his family—and now the time for justice has arrived. At Parford Manor, he intends to take his place as the rightful heir to the dukedom and settle an old score with the current duke once and for all. But instead he finds himself drawn to a tempting beauty who has the power to undo all his dreams of vengeance….
Lady Margaret knows she should despise the man who's stolen her fortune and her father's legacy—the man she's been ordered to spy on in the guise of a nurse. Yet the more she learns about the new duke, the less she can resist his smoldering appeal. Soon Margaret and Ash find themselves torn between old loyalties—and the tantalizing promise of passion….
And here is Michelle's review:
Normally, I'm not a fan of the whole mistaken identity/hidden identity trope, but Courtney Milan uses it here in such a way that it works. Not only that, but she avoids some of the most annoying romance pitfalls, particularly by not dealing in manufactured misunderstandings to keep the hero and heroine apart.
Ash and Margaret have very, very different goals from chapter one, and those goals remain in opposition for nearly the entire story, no matter how much they come to care for each other. This was one of the first romances I read where I genuinely had no idea how the HEA would come about until the very end.
Ash loves his brothers more than life itself, and feels incredible guilt for the poverty in which they grew up. Since then, he's sworn they'll only have the best of everything. He also has good reason to hate the current duke and his sons, in large part because of the way they've treated him and his brothers over the years. For him, obtaining the dukedom is as much about revenge as it is securing his brothers' futures.
In Margaret's case, she's had her entire life turned upside down, her very identity yanked away, all because of Ash and his quest for the dukedom. Now, Margaret's utterly alone, except for her bedridden jerk of a father. She hates Ash for very legitimate reasons, and in a way, hates him even more when he turns out to be so damn likable.
It's fascinating to watch as Ash and Margaret surprise each other, as they come to know each other, and as they gradually fall in love. They're great characters, with strengths and flaws and passions and insecurities.
My heart hurt for Ash every time he saw his brothers together; much as he loves them, he was gone for so long that it's like being on the outside looking in. My heart hurt for Margaret in dealing with her father and her brothers; she tried so hard to be selfless and loyal, and got stepped on in return every time.
Milan has a way of finding the little moments between characters and showcasing those, which is part of what makes her such a delight to read. Nothing feels rushed in the story, and even the secondary characters make a strong impression. (I loved Mark so much in this one that I bought Unclaimed, his story, about fifteen minutes after I finished Unveiled.)
As I mentioned before, I usually don't like the mistaken identity/hidden identity trope in books and movies. Inevitably there's the big reveal, and then the last 1/3 of the story is unmitigated moping on the part of the protagonists until everybody forgives each other in the end (see: Wedding Crashers). However, I love the way Milan handles the reveal of Margaret's identity, and she turns the expected reaction on its head, making this scene one of my favorites in the book.
Unveiled is the first in a series, with the next two being Unclaimed ( A | BN | K | S | ARe ) and Unraveled, ( A | BN | K | S | ARe ) which are Ash's brothers' stories. The series as a whole is phenomenal. If you haven't read Courtney Milan and you like historical romance, pick up Unveiled. You won't regret it.