Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly - so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past.
Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.
But that is precisely what she gets.
Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to her than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy Miss may prove to be more than his match...
The Duchess War is the first full-length book in the Brothers Sinister series. It is preceded by The Governess Affair, a prequel novella.
©2012 Courtney Milan (P)2013 Courtney Milan
I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!
Although this book is fascinating, it's not perfect. The beginning is a little slow and Milan holds you distant from the hero and heroine. I didn't quite like the heroine for a while, but then, I came to love her; I loved the hero almost instantly. Even though you can put the book down in the beginning, it is so thought provoking, so interesting, that is one of a handful of "best romances" that I've read in forty years.
THE DUCHESS WAR is different because of the intelligence and awareness of Courtney Milan. The central theme is the lasting damage that distorted, desperate, or narcissistic parents do to their offspring. Whether it is Robert's friend who is studying the controversial theory of genetic inheritance or the fanatical mother who mistreats her son to show the superiority of Christianity, Milan slyly unites this theme in its variations. Many writer have explored the theme of parental abuse, usually by the character's pain and her (it usually is a "she") eventual triumph of shedding her inhibitions to marry the hero. Instead, Courtney Milan shows a man who holds himself to an almost impossible standard of goodness and a damaged heroine who does the best she can for those she loves, even if it means destroying her own future. Then, in parallel dilemmas, the hero and heroine must decide whether to sacrifice their own happiness, betraying each other to protect more vulnerable people. Because life is seldom as easy as it is in most novels, Milan's books consistently explore the anguish, the uncertainty, and the grit it takes to lead a fulfilling and honorable life. It is impossible to read Milan's books and not to think, not to consider ethical problems, not to learn something about life. Most romances tell of fairy tale marriages with perfect happiness with effortless unity unto death. Milan's marriages are made up of imperfect humans, who often say the wrong thing, who knowingly almost destroy the person they love. Minnie and Robert have a vital, living commitment because both are capable of genuine love, honesty, and honour.
As always Rosalyn Landor bought the story to life with her wonderful narration
I have a PhD in American Literature but my love affair with romance novels on audible is going strong.
I've just discovered Courtney Milan, and I think she's one of the best. This story has everything, wallflower and handsome Duke, mysteries discovered and revealed, a social conscience exposed, hilarious dialogues, and 2 amazing admirable and lovable and unusual heroes. Why the handsome Duke even struggles with his wedding night, and the way they solve it is so real-human-like. It's about 2 people finding love, and even surprising who is in need of it the most. I admire writers who don't copy the Romance genre's lists of behaviors but ones who create unique stories and characters and write well, without that sense of needing the cuts of a good editor to make the story tight. If you miss part of this story you need to go back and rewind, and the writing is so fluid and intelligent you forget about the writer and just get engrossed in the story. A definite credit-worthy selection. I'll be looking for more in the Brothers Sinister series.
Rosalyn Landor always does a great job.
Just couldn't get past the first hour of this book. It was confusing, poorly written, and uninteresting for me.
Rosalyn Landor made this book a 4-star because the story was a little slow.
Minerva Lane was hiding a secret. She isn't who she says she is and she has been passing in the ton as the niece of two old spinsters. But now someone is investigating her.
See someone has been writing and circulating scandalous pamphlets trying to encourage workers to unionize against their betters and Mr. Stevens thinks that rebel rouser is Minnie Lane. The only thing Minnie can do is figure out the real author of the pamphlets so she can throw Mr. Stevens off the scent of her past before he discovers what she is really hiding.
Minnie's investigation leads her to Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, whom we met in the prequel as the legitimate heir of Clermont. In the prequel, Robert was so miserable to his illegitimate half brother Oliver at their boarding until Robert decided he wanted a brother and they became close.
Robert admits to Minnie that he is indeed the author of the letters, but he tells her that no one will believe her since he is a duke and it's not in his best interest to get the lower class to unionize. But Robert offers her a deal instead--to marry him and become his duchess and they both will be covered.
What's a girl to do, give Mr. Stevens a new suspect or accept the offer of marriage to a man who is doing something that will call attention to her and her past?
This book was good though it took a while to develop. I liked Minnie and I didn't think the past scandal was that bad. What made this book a 4 star for me was Robert's thoughtfulness and need to fix some society wrongs. He was brave and I am glad he stood up for those unable to fight for themselves.
I wish the author told us what became of Minnie's aunts that took care of her despite the secret. I am also glad she reconciled with Lydia, the heroine of the next book as I just started audiobook 1.5.
AKA The Geeky Blogger
Read/Listened for Fun (Kindle/Audible)
Tracking Books Read Review (Short)
Overall Rating: 4.25
Story Rating: 4.25
Character Rating: 4.25
Audio Rating: 4.50 (not part of the overall rating)
First Thought when Finished: The Duchess War was just as heavy as the novella was--these are not light historicals but they are good!
Overall Thoughts: I am just going to say it: Courtney Milan goes for the emotional gut every dang time and won't stop until she has rung you dry! These are not for those that prefer light historicals. The issues addressed in this series are real, raw, and sometimes downright emotionally gripping. In this one, the leading lady dealt with something that is pretty easy to identify now but back then would have been paralyzing. I love how Courtney dealt with it and made the love story happen around it. I was less emotionally gutted by the leading guy, Robert, but he was a great match for Minerva. I think together they brought out each others better qualities.
Narrated By Rosalyn Landor / Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
Rosalyn is one of my favorite historical romance narrators! I just love how she makes the characters come alive. This was another knock out of the park and I think Rosalyn/Courtney make a good audiobook match set!
Final Thoughts: Emotionally gripping and extremely fulfilling.
This book is why Courtney Milan is an auto download for me - thanks to her gifted writing you're transported back to1863 where she crafts loveable compelling but flawed characters who find themselves involved in an emotional, touching, sexy, humorous, heartbreaking, breathtaking love story that's full of secrets and scandals that'll keep you riveted.
This is the story about Robert (a handsome, caring, radical Duke) and Minnie (a 'Plain Jane' with brains) both of whom are emotionally scarred but for different reasons and the class differences and obstacles that they have to overcome. Their relationship starts off as a skilful game of wits but, as attraction between them flourishes, there's great chemistry and witty, flirty banter between the pair then they soon realise that their needs, goals and ideals are actually the same.
However, when their feelings for each other grow it forces them to reveal vulnerabilities, share secrets and undergo personal life changes but before their romance can ever progress to a HEA ending that they (and the listener) craves, the truth must painfully and publicly come out by betraying each other and only then can honor, acceptance, forgiveness and love follow.
Plenty of twists, interesting secondary characters, friendships, passion and a bitter-sweet romance can be found in this very entertaining and enjoyable listen but so too can we get a feel for the social divide and working environments between the Upper and Lower classes of a, thankfully, bygone era. Robert says such touching, tender, thoughtful words that you can't help but fall in love with him too.
Worth a credit? As long as CM keeps writing them and they're hopefully narrated by the talented Ms. Landor, then I'll keep buying them - so that's a YES and I hope you too will fall in love with Minnie and Robert as I did.
I would recommend anyone who values the power of great phonetic pronunciation.
The subtlety of the most apparent intimacy of the main characters makes the main sub plot though serious quite gentle.
This is the first time I have listened to Rosalyn Landor and I will say that I will now search for her performances with great intent.
I would have absolutely loved to have listened to this book start to finish
I"m a audible addict. My eyes have gotten really bad so I really hadn't read much in the last 10 years until I discoverd books on CD and Audible. Now I'm a fiend. Other than audio books I enjoy my family, work and dabbling on the computer.
This is the continuing story from the novella The Governess Affair. Although that one was short it had a great deal of content. I couldn't wait for this first book.
The series seemed to focus on three best friends. Robert, The Duke. Oliver, the bastard brother of the duke and Sebastian, the cousin. The series has expanded to sisters, friends, etc. Which has been fine for me. I hope to see it never end..lol.
Here we get an introduction to Oliver, the son of Serena from The Governess and bastard brother. We get some insight into the relationship between the brothers and their love for one another as well as meet Sebastian and Violet.
This book is about Robert, The Duke and Minerva (Minnie) and how they meet and fall in love. The book follows some great ins and outs and the humor never fails.
Keep an eye on Miss Charingford. She's the next in line with the novella, A Kiss for Midwinter.
Last but never least is the wonderful narration of Rosalyn Landor. Her voices are amazing and her dramatizations enhance the characters in the stories.
I love the series!
Love reading. Love listening.
Setting: Leister, England 1863
Genre: Romance with a bit of mystery and suspense
Narration was wonderful. Rosalyn Landor has a pleasant voice with excellent vocal range. She can do masculine as well as feminine, and different English accents as well. I love when a reader gets that right.
This is the first in The Brothers Sinister series. It was preceded by the novella The Governess Affair (which I read in electronic form, so you will have to look for my review of that on Goodreads).
The heroine, Minnie, is a wallflower on purpose. There was a scandal in her past that she escaped by changing her name and living with her great-aunts, but she is fearful of being found out. She needs to marry to see to the welfare of the aunts who took her in. Her only real prospect is the oafish son of the local distiller.
Robert Blaisdell, the ninth Duke of Clermont is the hero. He is in Leister to right some of the wrongs of his father. He has issues having to do with his upbringing, and he is a political radical. But he is kind and caring, and sees in Minnie a strong, good woman. They fall in love, but it is impossible because he is a peer and she is a lady of good standing in the community. He is too high socially to marry her, and he can't, because of his ethics, take her as a mistress.
The villain is Captain Stevens. He is an arse who oversteps his authority and uses his position for personal gain. He thinks Minnie is responsible for handbills encouraging the workers to unionize. He investigates her because he doesn't believe she is who she says she is.
Minnie's best friend is Lydia. She is one of the key players in this novel, and has her own story in the novella A Kiss for Midwinter.
Another key player in the story is Oliver Marshall, Robert's half brother. His story is book 2 in this series.
Overall, this was an enjoyable listen. In some places it seemed to bog down, like it should be ready to wrap up. But it's a multidimensional story with a very satisfying conclusion. It's worth the credit and the time.
I am a singer and Celtic harper specializing in the music of Scotland, where I go often to study and perform. I love romance books because I like a light hearted story with a happy ending!
Loved this book! An engrossing story and a very interesting hero and heroine. I have listened to it twice and enjoyed it both times. I would definitely recommend it.
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