The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

December 19, 2012
Into everyone's life a little rain must fall.

You know you cannot find a bigger fan of Courtney Milan's than me.  I loved her books from the very beginning!  Most of her books I have rated extremely high and one of them, Unraveled, is one of my absolute favorite books.  I have cheered her on in her new venture into self-publishing...she is just fantastic, so, when The Duchess War was released I was trying to think of a way to read it at work and hope my employer didn't catch on.  However, reading books at work isn't what I'm paid for, so I abandoned that idea and waited until I hit the door at home.  I was very excited, and had high, high expectations.  The beginning caught my interest and I thought, yes, this is going to be a great book!  And, then the unthinkable happened.  Somewhere around page 60 or so, I started to lose interest.  I kept hoping that each page I turned would touch off a spark and yes, sometimes that would happen.  I'd say to it's going to get really good!  And, then it would just sputter out.

Much to my great sorrow, I was just not able to connect with this story.  I've been kicking it around in my head, and I couldn't come up with one main reason why I found this particular story uninteresting, but there were a couple of scenarios in the story that may have been responsible for my reaction.  And, yes there are spoilers. 

There were so many things about The Duchess War that I loved.  For one, the writing.  I just love the way Ms. Milan can glue a few words together and have tears squirting out of my eyes.  And, it's just not the boo-hoo stuff that Ms. Milan can write, but humor also.  There were a number of laugh-out-loud moments in this book that had me waking my husband up from a sound sleep.  The secondary characters were all intriguing and I'm looking forward to Sebastian and Oliver's stories.  Even the secondary characters who don't have a book in the works were fascinating.  Robert's mother was especially strange and intriguing.  I also loved the two main characters, Robert and Minnie, especially Robert.  Robert was a wonderfully troubled angst-ridden hero, just waiting for someone to save him.  And, as with other heroes in her other books, Ms. Milan as a way of making the words floating out of Robert's mouth romantic.  The story was at its best when Robert and Minnie were together, floundering around in their new-found relationship.  There is also an especially tear-jerking moment involving Robert and the alphabet. So, what went wrong for me?

What bothered me were the outside stories that were supposed to create some of the conflict.  I never bought into Robert's attempt at saving the working clods of the world by writing handbills.  I found this bit of sedition to be a distraction and at times absurd.  After awhile I would skip over the parts involving the working men.  The other scenario that kept me from truly loving this book was Minnie's scandalous secret.  When it was finally revealed what the big secret was that made her hide from the world I had a "you have got to be kidding me" moment.  Yes, I understand that she had a trauma as a child.  I understood her fear of crowds, but not her fear of creating another scandal if her true identity was discovered.  A five/twelve year old girl disguised as a boy chess champion who is found out and chased by a crowd and rocks are thrown at her...yes, I understand the fainting in a crowd.  But, I never bought her hiding this for years and years.  If it had happened in the dark ages, then maybe I'd understand...but not this particular time period.  So, those two plots are what kept me from loving this book as much as I have loved Ms. Milan's other stories.

Now, does this mean I'm through with Ms. Milan?  Are you kidding me?  I'll be right there in the front of the line for her next little hiccup is not going to stop me from reading a truly fantastic author.

Time/Place: Victorian England
Sensuality: Hot!!

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