The Duchess War (CBR6 #37)

I’m writing this review without actually finishing the book. I know, it’s unorthodox, but stick with me here. Thanks to the lovely reviews of Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series I have decided to make these books my summer/fall romance reads. Based solely on the reviews I purchased all of the available books and novellas for my Nook and have been sliding these books in amongst my other reading. The Duchess War is the first full novel, second story, in the series and I am in love with it.

There’s a lot to love about these books. Courtney Milan’s style is infectious, her word choice is crisp, her grasp of humor, and how to deploy it, are top notch. Then there are the characters. I love a well written, complex, but not unknowable character. I love them. I think it’s why time and again I am drawn back into the land of Romance novels. The stories are often dictated by known tropes, but the really good ones have some of the richest characterizations you’ll find in fewer than 300 pages. And then there’s the lovely times where your expectations of tropes are turned on their head and you have what makes a truly wonderful story.

In the case of The Duchess War the trope that is turned upside down is that our male lead, Robert, portrays many of the uncertainties one would expect from the female lead. Not that Minnie doesn’t have her own tale of woe, she does. She’s had to change her name to escape a disastrous past that is beyond the simple ‘ruined woman’ trope. But it’s Robert who is afraid of love, afraid of wanting it, and afraid of having it taken away.  And that primal fear in him, placed there by battling parents who treated him like a chess piece and not a son, is what truly moves the course of the novel, not the will they or won’t they, and certainly not the question of whether Minnie’s true identity will be revealed, and if it is, how much of her life will be ruined.

And let’s not forget to mention that it’s steamy, wonderfully steamy without being time period inappropriate. And we have not one but two historical protagonists masturbating in the same book. I may be reading the wrong things, but I have never come across that before, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. And when our leads get together, that ain’t bad either. Through that in with socially aware protagonists worried about people’s rights and some lovely supporting characters who are going to be a hoot along the way (looking at you, Sebastian) and this is a thoroughly well rounded novel.

I promise not to post this review until I have actually read those last chapters. But, I can happily recommend this book to you without knowing how we get to the ending, or what the ending looks like. This book is that well written.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.

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About Katie

Museum educator, caffiene junkie, book lover, student of history, overall goofball.

7 thoughts on “The Duchess War (CBR6 #37)

  1. […] it’s his status as a commoner while being known as the brother of the Duke of Clermont (see The Duchess War), for Jane it’s the combination of her hundred thousand pounds (which was left to her by the man […]

  2. […] about the different tropes that Ms. Milan has turned on their heads in this landmark series. In The Duchess War the male protagonist shows the insecurities that one would typically expect in the female […]

  3. […] Brother Sinister books I was on the lookout for the trope that Ms. Milan had turned on its head. In The Duchess War the male protagonist shows the insecurities which would typically be portrayed by the female […]

  4. […] first pages of this book, a flash back to Simon’s childhood, much the same way my heart ached for Robert in The Duchess War. I wanted to see him overcome the obstacles that were set before him, to become the man he was […]

  5. […] Sinister series (and seriously, everyone should) we meet Lydia as the best friend of Minnie in The Duchess War and this story takes place in the months following the end of that book. When I first reviewed this […]

  6. […] it felt very by the numbers, even for a book that supposes its turning the tropes on themselves. (I unfortunately have a high bar for that.) Mrs. Julien is going to be so annoyed with me (she rates this book as 5 stars, I’d give it 3.5. […]

  7. […] of the Bowmans, and Rafe’s childhood was certainly no better and perhaps worse. While I have a fondness for men with terrible childhoods as romance protagonists, this book suffers from other shortcomings which bring it down to a […]

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