Unveiled by Courtney Milan
January 25, 2011
Paperback, 384 Pages
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “Miss Lowell, you magnificent creature, I want you to paint your own canvas. I want you to unveil yourself.”
Ash Turner is getting his revenge. As a young child, for religious reasons his insane mother gave away all of their money and Ash found himself on the doorstep of Parford Manor begging his very distant cousin, the Duke of Parford, Richard Dalrymple for help. His young sister was very ill, and everyone was hungry. Parford slammed the door in his face refusing any support. After his sister’s death a short time later, Ash decides to never see his brothers suffer the same fate. He takes himself off to India for four years to amass a fortune. Returning, he finds his two brothers skinny as a rail and on the street, but gets them through school.
As an adult he accomplishes something very important to him. He discovers Parford had married a mistress, prior to his current marriage, and after going through parliament he has Parford’s current marriage declared void for bigamy. Therefore, the children he had with his second “wife” are no longer able to inherit his title. This leaves Ash (his sixth cousin, twice removed) next in line. With Parford on his deathbed, Ash has the title of Duke in the very near future.
Margaret Dalrymple has lost her title, her fiancé and her mother all in the recent past. She is Parford’s daughter – and as her brothers are in London battling Parliament for their father’s title back, she is pretending to be a servant, in particular Parford’s nurse to essentially spy on Ash. To gain any information she can to send back to her brothers that would help them get the bigamy ruling overturned.
Ash takes one look at Margaret, standing in the servant line and an attraction develops. Margaret thinks Ash is a greedy tyrant intent on ruining her family’s name. Ash thinks Margaret is a mere servant, but one with spunk and independence. But their attraction towards one another will lead them to discover many new truths.
Unveiled is the third book I have read by Courtney Milan and the third that I have adored. And by adored I mean – this book is on my favorite list for 2011 and will proudly sit upon my favorite shelf. From the very beginning Courtney Milan had me. She has such a way with words – they are to be absorbed and savored. Like when Ash first sees Margaret:
Whatever it was, the sight of her struck him deep in his gut. It reminded him of the cacophony of an orchestra as it tuned its instruments: dissonance, suddenly resolving into harmony. It was the rumble, not of thunder, but its low precursor, trembling on the horizon. It was all of that. It was none of that. It was the sheer animal instinct, and it reached up and grabbed him by the throat. Her. Her.
Ash is great with people. He is not good at analyzing things on paper, but let him look someone in the eye, and this is how he has built his fortune in trade. The reason he has a fortune, and the reason he is vying for the Dukedom are for his brothers Mark and Smite and only his brothers. After he watched his young sister die, he vowed to himself his brothers would have a better lot in life. While earning his fortune there were many years he did abandoned them – but once he had the funds, he forced them to go to school and encouraged them to be successful members of society. But his relationship with them is far from perfect. They don’t dote upon him – both Mark and Smite have bonded with each other, leaving Ash out of their circle. Their dynamics are very intriguing and different.
Ash never looks upon Margaret as a lowly servant (for a time, he doesn’t know she is actually Parford’s daughter). He is enamored from the start. Margaret wants to hate him for what he has done to his family. She is not only mourning the death of her mother, but her father is on his deathbed and her and her brothers have all been proclaimed bastards. But the man she meets is not the man she expected. He really is trying to do the right thing. Yes he wants revenge on Parford (who truly is scum) but he treats everyone else with the utmost respect. He is charming and just – nice. As Margaret notices he can be a man of business, with the utmost honor in parliament, but also have dinner conversations with servants without a struggle.
The best thing Ash does for Margaret is gives her confidence. He dares her to defy her station in life. He tells her by both words and actions that she matters. She is important. Something I love about Margaret is her trust and acceptance of Ash. She may have confusing feelings because she doesn’t want to go against her brothers, but she knows Ash would never do something to intentionally harm her, and she has no qualms about letting people know that.
Mark and Smite both get page time in this book, especially Mark, whose book is out later this fall. Mark is a scholar writing a book on why men should practice chastity, something he himself follows so I very much look forward to watching how he gets his happily ever after. And Smite is still somewhat of a mystery. He lives a very small lifestyle, and not a lot is resolved about his relationship with Ash or who exactly he is. Which of course has me extremely intrigued to find out more about him!
Unveiled is an absolutely beautiful book.