Well, irritatingly, I left my kindle at my in-law's house when I came home, which sucks because I had a whole bunch of highlighted passages that I am now unable to access. Therefore, I must do this review without the quotes that I intended to use as references.
The buddy read experience, over all, has been a good one for me. I enjoyed seeing other people's thoughts on this book, and have agreed with many of their points. As an aside, if you are interested in more from the Duchess War readers - click on the tag: "Duchess War Read 2013" for the rest of the reviews/status updates.
Let me begin by saying that I read A LOT of historical romances about 2 years ago - so many, that I pretty much overdosed. Most of Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Mary Balogh, a number of Heyers, Sabrina Jeffries, Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean, etc. There was about a six month period where I probably read over 50 of them - including some by Courtney Milan. After gorging myself, I, not surprisingly, got sort of sick of them - similar to the way I feel at Christmas, if I eat too many of those amazing Costco chocolate truffles.
So, I've been avoiding romance in general, and historical romance in particular (with the exception of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen) for a while now.
This one was a good re-entry into the genre, because although it is actually set during the Victorian era, it has many of the same themes as regency romance (societal rules, characters who don't quite fit the mold, etc).
I really like Courtney Milan's writing. Her stories are well put together, and her characterizations are some of the best in the genre. She isn't as funny as Julia Quinn, or as warm as Kleypas, but she is a bit sharper of wit, and her characters tend to be a bit edgier. Her dialogue is excellent.
I loved her secondary characters. Robert's three best friendss - Oliver, Sebastian, and Violet - were delightful. There was a scene on the train that I thought was hilarious. The older generation, some of whom we have met, some of whom are new, are also well-developed. Robert's mother, the Duchess, is sufficiently ambiguous to be convincing. The downright dreadful Duke of Charingford's presence remains a pall over most of the book.
These two characters had massively shitty fathers, and this fact tainted their lives. Both of them are damaged, and are in the process of coming to terms with the failures of their parents. This is a common theme in historical romance, and it works well in this book.
I am not addicted to angst. But Minnie and Robert were so sad in places, that it made me cry. This is very unusual for me, and is a testament to the strength of Milan's characterizations. I was very invested in these two characters. I will definitely read the next in the series. I also want to go back and read the remainder of the Turner series, which I have never finished.
Let the reading begin!
Holy shit. This book made me cry. Review forthcoming. At least 4 stars. Gotta process.
Oh, the feels. These two broken people. Robert is killing me, with his sadness, his need to make up for the sins of his father.
"Lords should be indicted like commoners and tried by juries. We should not have the right to reject laws that Commons proposes. In fact, I don't think the House of Lords should exist at all. I wish to hell I was simple Mr. Blaisdell. My father - you have no idea how dreadful he was."
"So," he said, "you think that I am charming. You didn't list that among my assets before."
"Of course you're charming." She didn't look up. "I'm charmed. I'm charmed to my teeth."
There was a note in her voice that sounded so bitter that it almost tasted sweet.
"You're a force of nature, Your Grace ," she said. "But so am I. So am I."
there are secrets, and other mysteries afoot. I like Minnie so far.