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Trial by Desire (Courtney Milan, Carhart #2)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is the first full-length novel of Milan’s that I’m actually unable to recommend. Though there are a lot of good aspects here, there is just too much unevenness… the subplot (helping an abused wife and child escape from a violent, unstable husband) overwhelms the main story. The characters are left without time to fully develop on their own, and we’re left to infer a lot of their romantic journey. The heroine feels very hazily drawn (sometimes she’s a firecracker, sometimes she’s an actress, other times, she seems genuinely unsure and immature). She’s got a cause (helping abused women), but little else to recommend her. Similarly, our hero struggles with demons of his own… and overall, the characters struggle more with their internal conflicts than with each other; their story ultimately feels more annoying than intriguing.

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Proof of Seduction (Courtney Milan, Carhart #1)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
There’s lots to like about this — thoroughly interesting and believable central characters who have entirely different motivations and back stories. They are multilayered and complex: you’ve got a woman who’s pretending to be a gypsy fortune teller because she was born on the wrong side of the sheets and really has nothing else to do with a ladies’ school finishing education combined with no family name or background. The hero, as an earl who sees his title as an encumberance to his scientific pursuits, is also interesting. However, while this is a strong novel (perhaps more so because it was Milan’s debut effort), there are parts of it that take some patience to get through, and it doesn’t feel as effortless or buoyantly entertainingly as many of her other works. Still better than a lot of historical romances out there… but not my favorite Milan.

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