Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “If I’m to list the things I want, I want to own your quiet possession,” he continued, “and drive the wariness from your eyes.”
Do you remember when you were young and a kid would pick on you or tease you and your parents would say – oh, that’s just because deep down, he or she really likes you? This is Lady Elaine’s life – except she has to endure it as an adult, in the eyes of the ton. Elaine has quite a laugh – some say it sounds like a horse with a pig’s snort and they have nicknamed her Lady Equine. Evan Carlton, the Earl of Westfield pretty much knew he was in love with Elaine the first time he met her. But he was immature, and didn’t want anyone to know he was in love, so he made fun of her. He teased her and he made her feel small, and embarrassed. After awhile, his entire group of friends would turn and say hurtful things to Elaine, Evan felt bad. Really bad. He fled England to travel abroad. He became a mountaineer and learned the true value of friendship.
Ten years later, he is back in England, and at a house party, in the presence of Elaine. Now he wants to make amends, but he has much ground to cover. A mere apology is not going to make all those hurtful years go away. The teasing is actually still occurring from many in the ton, and Evan can’t believe he was ever a part of it. So he decides to become friends with her. And it is a wonderful journey to read.
Unlocked is a novella by Courtney Milan that is an amazing read. It affected me so much, I just want to read it over and over again. Elaine immediately cringes inward when she sees Evan at the party. She lives her life always planning how to stay out of everyone’s way. Wearing pale, muted dresses or she takes notice in the décor so it doesn’t look like she wants to dance. But once the teasing starts, she uses laugher as her defense.
Her laugh had been the cause of their torment all those years ago. And so when Elaine laughed without holding back, she sent them a message.
You cannot break me. You cannot hurt me. You cannot even made me notice you.
But she does hurt. And she does break. I also find it very intriguing that her mother is a social outcast. Extremely intelligent in mathematics and science, she is slow in other parts of her life. She doesn’t get sarcasm. She thinks if people are laughing they are happy, not laughing at her. So not only is Elaine the butt of jokes, but her mother even more so. And Elaine gets embarrassed for her mother. And her mother is not there to understand the insults both of them receive. It is this constant circle that exhausts Elaine to no end.
For as much pain as Evan has caused, there is still attraction. But when Evan starts to make amends, the trust is so slow to build. Elaine wants to be embraced, but in the back of her mind, she thinks he is just setting her up for ridicule in the next few minutes. I love how hard he has to work to get to a place where a romance can develop. This is a pretty short story and about halfway through we jump ahead nine months – which makes their basis for a friendship and eventual romance very believable.
Unlocked show us such exquisite pain from both the hero and the heroine. It is a really beautiful story of acceptance, forgiveness and of course, love.
(And it’s only $.99) :)