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The Duchess War (The Brothers Sinister Book 1) Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B00AKKGX4W
- Publisher : Courtney Milan; 1st edition (December 6, 2012)
- Publication date : December 6, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 3074 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 271 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #75,210 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The plot is thin to non-existent. The heroine supposedly lives in fear that her deep, dark non-secret will be revealed. The hero is a duke who secretly behaves as a social reformer, which makes no sense whatsoever. A duke is a member of the House of Lords. He wouldn't have to be secretive about social reforms, which were increasingly government regulated during the Victorian Age--thanks to Charles Dickens, a REAL author (rather t
than a mere hack writer like Milan) whose novels directly affected the treatment of the poor during his lifetime.
If you think endless pages of meetings about (historically inaccurate) Victorian disinfectant & worker's rights, interspersed with endless conversations about social class, are fascinating reading, you'll love this book. Myself, I kept waiting for people to stop talking & actually DO something both interesting and logical. Milan's characters aren't exactly paragons of logical reasoning. They're overly emotional drama queens without a single Victorian stiff-upper-lip in sight. I get the point that this book is supposed to be a sort of Cinderella story where love overcomes class inequality, but with so much of the book taken up with social causes, the attempt falls as flat as a Victorian post card.
I also don't consider graphic depictions of characters fantasizing while masturbating to be very romantic, but Milan apparently believes readers will find this "hot" because such scenes are featured more than one. Ugh.
If Milan is determined to write books set in the Victorian era, she should put all that education she brags about in her author bio & do a little basic research. Poverty-stricken young ladies with shady pasts didn't enter the same social circles as a duke, yet these two meet 'by chance' over & over again. There are very few dukes in Englan, and as they were essentially the celebs of their time, it's ridiculous that nobody seems to recognize the "Duke of Clermont." A duke would never have owned a factory during the Victorian era (let alone a series of duke owning a factory for 3 generations) as actual work was considered "beneath" men of their class; they were expected to spend their time in the House of Lords or devote themselves to charitable causes--so no need for Milan's duke to be secretive!
There were lots of other historical errors--too many to mention here---but there were several I found so ridiculous that I must mention them. Minnie's great-aunts live on a farm in the country (and how two elderly women manage a farm by themselves is never addressed) and can't even afford sugar, yet somehow they can afford a private carriage & horses to pull it. A "Workers Hygiene Committee" wouldn't have even existed at this point, since bacteria had not yet been discovered. Vaccines were mandated by law, but Joseph Lister was still being mocked for his theories about germs in 1863, and the hygienic solutions available then focused on eliminating odors as "miasma" (foul smelling air) was still believed to be the cause of illness. Minnie wants to sell disinfectant solution to the poor for a shilling a bottle, a price the ill-informed author believes is cheap--but a male factory worker earned less than two shillings a day, while a woman worker (much more common in Victorian factories) earned half that amount, so a shilling per bottle meant to last one month would have been hard for even factory workers to afford, and people of that era were more concerned with cleaning up trash piles & fixing drains to eliminate foul odors.
I read historical romances because I enjoy history, but Milan's work goes beyond mere inaccuracy. Her characters think, act, and speak like modern contemporary people, with modern concerns. She needs to make up her mind whether she wants to write historical stories, or contemporary stories. I think she should try writing time travel romances; at least then her characters would have a reason to have such modern attitudes during the Victorian Era. But as unoriginal as this book was, I'm afraid even a time travel romance written by Milan would contain stock one-dimensional characters and a pointless, rambling plot.
Milan is proof that knowing how to string words together into sentences isn't enough to make someone an author.
It really did have promise. I liked the idea of the "war" between the Duke and the poor, shy spinster. From the opening scene, I saw why the duke was taken with Minnie. I really enjoyed their banter. I liked that he insisted that his flirting would get her a husband, whether that would be another man or he himself.
But it was all down hill from there. The romance itself was 5 stars. Everything else, Minnie's ridiculous backstory, the Duke's extreme need to not be like his father, his horrible relationship with his mother, his need to write the handbills and then think there would be no consequences from it, and the villian, Cap Stevens' and his motivation, was just plain boring. Why did he care if Minnie had changed her name? It all came out in the end, but I didn't see any motivation for him to be so hell bent on it. It's not as if he actually cared for Minnie's best friend and his fiance. That much was obvious.
Ms. Milan spent SO MUCH time on the supposed sordid backstory of Minnie, it became incredibly tiring. I felt like she thought maybe we just didn't understand how awful the deception was so she kept finding new ways to explain what had happened. By the end, when it's being publicly explained, I skimmed the entire thing.
One thing I did like, was that she accurately wrote the first consummation of marriage between two virgins realistically. I'm so done with all the virgin brides having nothing but exploding orgasms their very first time they have sex. Even with an experienced partner, it's not fun the first time. And I didn't understand how Minnie knew ANYTHING about pleasuring herself. Virgins in the 1800s wouldn't grow up with that knowledge, especially one who'd been living as a boy for 12 years and then on her own til marriage. Made no sense to me. But I did like how they learned together, the way love making should be.
So at this point, I have only a very slight interest in trying to read the book about the Duke's half brother. I definitely won't be paying for the story. If the eBook goes for free, like this one did, or I can borrow it from the library, and if I can muster up enough interest in trying, I may read it. But dont hold your breath.
Top reviews from other countries
Robert is handsome and rich etc, but he's also not an alpha-hole. He realises that Minnie is cleverer than he is and he's totally fine with that.
The dialogue is excellent. The secondary characters were extremely likeable without being anodyne. To be honest, it's worth reading just for the conversation about how dragons can't milk princesses because they don't have opposable thumbs.
Smart heroines, beta heroes (albeit broad shouldered, rich and handsome ones), good dialogue... I'll read more of Courtney Milan's books
It is nice to read a story that has an exceptionally strong and intelligent female character in the lead so to speak, ( I usually find in historical romances that the female of the story is quite weak and only interested in buttons and bows and getting a husband), so Minnie is quite refreshing and unusual for a woman of her day.
I could go on like some do in the their reviews and spoil the story, but I won't, Ms Milan does the story telling so much better and if you want to know what it's about read the synopsis as I did, but I will just say pass by at your peril you will miss reading,a really good book if you don't buy it.
Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not your average aristocrat. His father was a womanising b*****d (not in the literal sense) who relied on his status to get away with anything he wanted, which has made Robert determined to be everything his father was not. Yet he is still the Duke of Clermont, so many people are unable to see past his title.
Until he meets Wilhelmina (Minnie) Pursling. On the outside she looks like the quiet, mousey type, but underneath is a razor-sharp intelligence, and Robert soon finds this out to his disadvantage.
You see, when I say that Robert is not your average aristocrat, I mean this in the sense that he tries to use his position to better the lot of those less fortunate than he, to the point that he is determined to abolish the peerage. He tries to right the wrongs his father has wrought, and at the start of this book he is writing and publishing seditious pamphlets to try and draw out someone who has been abusing his position. This is the industrial age; workers are starting to do things like try to form unions, go on strike to try and get better working conditions, and the upper class don't like it one bit, because God forbid that the cattle should have opinions of their own. Surely they can't have brains, right?
The plot is not what kept me engaged in this book, though it is by no means trite or predictable. What kept me enthralled were the constant surprises I came across. I have never, ever seen a Romance where even one of the main characters masturbates, never mind both of them, and I have always found it rather daft that in Romance, men in particular seem to resort to cold showers and whatnot rather than beating the old snake to get rid of their sexual frustration. Especially since that's exactly what most men do. And most women, for that matter.
Anyway, I won't mention every single instance where this book delighted me, but the characters were endearing and very believable, the dialogue was wonderful and often very funny, and I sniggered out loud at the scene where Robert joins Minnie on the train and gets his cousin and their childhood friend to chaperone him.
Truly wonderful, and refreshingly original.
Who is Miss Wilhelmina Pursling? She does not really exist, she is a creation to make Miss Minerva Lane safe from her past and from a terrible treason. When she caught the eye of the ninth Duke of Clermont, Robert, she just wants to get rid of him and carry on her unexciting existence. Just to be safe. But Robert too has a secret. Fate will unite them like two survivors from a capsized boat clinging to the same piece of wood. They will have to ride the high waves together. But, Robert, as a Duke, is practically untouchable. Minerva, aka Wilhelmina, on the other hand, is the ideal candidate for being branded a criminal. And what about Oliver, Robert's half brother, his father's bastard?
In The Duchess War, I have also learned why the series is called The Brother Sinister, which is not said in the first book The Governess Affair (The Brothers Sinister) .
Even though the book can be read as a stand alone, it helps to have read the Governess Affair. All the characters in this book are so likeable (except the Duchess, but at the end, we understand why she is so indifferent... but is she really? and Stevens). Robert is a tortured soul looking for love and approval and does not know that he is a lovely man in his own right, Minerva want to escape her past at all costs, even if it will cost her Robert's love. The peripheral characters are great, you really can feel the complicity between Robert, Oliver and Sebastien his cousin.
This is a lovely book that I recommend to anyone fond of love, intrigue and a bit of nail biting. And if you keep a look out, you can pick up The Governess Affair for very little, as it is often promoted free.
I have now downloaded A Kiss for Midwinter (The Brothers Sinister) which is the last one of the Brothers Sinister and I feel a bit sad as it is a short story and I would have loved more of them....
But I will definitely read more from Courtney Milan. I am hooked on her books...
anyway, as i was saying before i distracted myself, so ridiculously gloriously perfect that the (spoilery) spot of dodgy behaviour late in the book troubled me far more than it would have done in a regular romance novel. although i'm fairly sure it was troublesome anyway?