Review: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan (Brothers Sinister #1)
December 8, 2012
Historical Romance
Self Published

Reviewed by May

Beside her, Mr. Charingford swallowed, the sound audible at this distance. “He is, of course, His Grace, the Duke of Clermont.”

Minnie almost yanked her fingers back. A duke? A bloody duke had found her behind the curtains? No. No. Impossible.

Minnie is living a lie. As a child a scandal rocked her world, and she took on a new identity and went to live with her aunts as a quiet, inconspicuous young lady. With money so tight and her prospects being so very thin, Minnie is working up to accepting a marriage proposal when an incident behind some curtains at a party has her looking at things a bit differently – and her whole world being shaken to its core.

She was nothing. He had everything. And for what little it was worth, he was embarrassed by his own strength.

Robert Blaisdell, ninth duke of Clermont has a lot to overcome. His father’s sins have shaped his life, causing him to lead a life dedicated to correcting as many wrongs as he can, and living by a code more strict than any other duke would. In short, he doesn’t believe he should be treated specially because of his station in life.

When Robert and Minnie meet up, she’s under suspicion of writing radical handbills. The thing is – it’s actually Robert writing them. He has his own reasons for writing them and a whole plan of action as well. That the pair is unlikely would be an understatement, and yet Milan makes it clear right away that this couple is in fact absolutely perfect for one another.

“Arousal makes me stupid. It makes me say idiotic things like, ‘I like your tits’ and ‘Help, we’ve had a paste emergency over here.’ It makes me want to stay around you even though I know I’m overmatched, even though I’m sure you’re going to win.” His voice lowered. “You see, I want to watch you do it.”

While their differences in station was extreme, considering Robert’s outlook on life and disdain for titles it worked for me. I could believe in these two as a couple.

What is most interesting to me is that when I review just my highlighted quotes, it is like reading a different book. It sparkles and shines as a Milan book always does for me. The problem for this, is that overall while reading I found this book fairly boring. That really is the only word I can use to explain why I am not gushing and raving over this story. I can’t quite put my finger on it either – perhaps because Robert and Minnie are each so very perfect, to the point that they were rather unappealing to me. Perhaps it was because the plot with the handbills was not interesting for me.

Coming into this book, I expected to be wildly in love with it, and I believe that I expected it to be something more exciting, more romantic, or simply more than an ordinary  historical romance novel. Now to be fair – it is definitely unique.  I’ve never read a duke quite like this one! Yet, it lacked that certain X factor that makes Milan’s books stand above and beyond any other being written in historical romance today. Perhaps that is part of my problem, that her books are always such solid A reads that my expectations were too high.

This is the hardest review I’ve had to write this year because it is so hard to vocalize how this book had such excellent qualities as well as such problems for me. I loved the relationship between Robert and his brother Oliver and the scenes that involved them, I also really was intrigued by Robert’s mother and Minnie’s aunts – I wished we had seen more of those ladies. On the downside, there are secrets and twists are held in secret for too long, there’s really not a lot happening action wise, and the characters are instantly interested in one another in a way that was dull. Yet when I go to pick those things apart, I can argue for why these elements work just as well as I can explain that they didn’t quite work for me – that is really the bottom line here in this review.

Despite my complaints, this book was still beautifully written and while the story might not have captured my interest as I’d hoped, it was definitely better than average. I do look forward to the other books, and I hope to find stories and characters that I can get really invested in and love from Milan in the future.

Grade: B-

Recent Reviews:
Another Look Book – 5/5
Smart Bitches – A+
Under the Covers – 4.5/5
Happily Ever After – C
It’s My Genre, Baby
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Comments

  1. Mandi says

    So I DNF’d this one.

    So that happened.

    And then I felt weird about it because it’s Milan and I’ve either given an A or a B+ I think to all of her books.

    But then I remember how bored I was and I can’t pick it back up.

    But it’s Milan. So I might just have to.

  2. Kristi says

    Ditto to everything you’ve said. What a relief to know I’m not alone! When I thought back about distinct scenes, I loved them. But woven together into a story, they somehow became weaker. It’s been a week since I read it, and I still can’t figure out exactly what it is that didn’t work–I’m not sure I ever will. All I know for sure is that it didn’t measure up to the other Milan books I love so much.

  3. pamelia says

    I was on the fence about this book up till about the 60% mark. I thought it was well-written, but kind of static up to that point. As soon as his mom showed up though and stuff started happening I found it really fun. Don’t know how I would grade it — maybe a B+ or A-.

  4. Lexi says

    Sometimes it just doesnt click. This was self published, are Courtney’s usually self published? I will have to look this up.
    Anyway, a well written review. Nicely done!

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