rameau's Reviews > The Duchess War

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
4884555
I had a spoilery discussion about this book with Anachronist that is now posted on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog. I recommend you read the book before the blog post.




The blurb says… actually, I don’t have a clue what the blurb says. At this point I never look at the blurbs for Milan’s books because they feel like spoilers. I’d rather go in without any expectations and just enjoy the story and writing. Of course, for The Duchess War I was partly spoiled because of The Governess Affair.

Here, the only legitimate son of the previous Duke of Clermont, Robert Blaisdell finds a mouse in the library and becomes fascinated. Of course said mouse is clad in a severe blue dress and scowls without her glasses, so that’s a perfectly natural reaction for a handsome young lord to have. Except anyone who’s read The Governess Affair knows Robert’s upbringing wasn’t quite the traditional kind and he’s grown up bent by the aristocratic standards.

Minnie Lane has her own secrets and an unusual past to hide. She uses her scar and simple clothes to mask the final vestiges of her former self, her exceptional mind. She struggles with her new name and the attitude that comes with it, but treasures the friendships.

Both Robert and Minnie are having and identity crisis of sorts and they need each other to lean on and to guide themselves out of it. It’s the best kind of growing together that can happen to two people who fall in love and end up married. Or course because it’s a romance novel and more importantly a romance novel written by Milan, things aren’t quite that easy. There are truths and lies to be told, betrayals and choices to be made, there are apologies to be made and forgiveness to be asked.

There’s history be distorted.

What I like most is that Milan takes a historical fact and builds around it. She chooses a time period, looks what was going on in the world then and picks the things that fit her characters. In doing so, she reminds me of things I’ve learned and forgotten, and she tells a brilliant character driven story. Her characters make mistakes because of who they are instead of because what the plot requires, deus ex machinas are wonderfully absent, and whatever misunderstandings happen are dealt with promptly instead of prolonged unnecessarily.

That isn’t to say that this novel was perfect. The beginning was slow and felt like it was progressing in fits and starts. I’m not quite sure why, but the pacing felt off and didn’t get better until the later half of the book. I also wished there’d been more interactions between Minnie and Oliver considering their shared interest. At the end, I would have been happy with a casual mention of chess boards being left all round the Duke’s household for the two enthusiasts. It felt like an obvious connection Milan somehow missed.

I’m not quite sure the Dowager Duchess earned her son’s forgiveness. She could have been on her way to achieving it, but I didn’t believe she quite got there and that’s another reason why the epilogue felt like an easy out or a too tidy a bow on a messy gift wrapping.

Also, at the end (view spoiler). That scene quite decimated the high I was feeling—there were tears—after the brilliant scenes between Robert, Oliver, and Oliver’s mother.

I’ve read worse, but Milan at her worse is better than most authors are at their best.
15 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Duchess War.
sign in »

Reading Progress

12/08/2012
4.0% ""For one thing, she was fairly certain that any sentence that used more exclamation points than words was an abomination.""
12/09/2012
41.0% ""She blinked. 'Puns,' she said, without turning around, 'are the lowest form of humor.'
'Not when a duke utters them.'"

I'm savouring it, okay. I'm savouring it."
12/09/2012
43.0% "I feel comfortable adding this book on the "can-I-has-a-devin" shelf even though he's named Robert."
12/09/2012
44.0% ""If only he'd been less handsome, less wealthy...and not at all a duke. A blacksmith. A bookseller. Someone else with a keen mind, those piercing eyes, that brilliant smile that seemed to be made for her alone.""
12/09/2012
53.0% ""'That,' Minnie said, 'must be water fetched all the way from Bath. Did you walk there yourself or take the train?'""
12/09/2012
66.0% ""It was as close as he'd come to admitting that he wanted her to love him.""
12/09/2012
68.0% ""Figuratively speaking. My point is, be the cat. Everyone respects a cat.""
12/09/2012
73.0% "All I can think of is "that was hot" and "I knew it"."

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

Anachronist I see why you liked Minnie more than I did. Identity crisis indeed. You put your ideas across better than me. :)


Keri Great review! I too felt that mom didn't quite do enough to make up to Robert, but in the overall love of the story...I let it slide. wish the epi could have been longer, but they are never long enough for me. :-)


rameau Keri wrote: "Great review! I too felt that mom didn't quite do enough to make up to Robert, but in the overall love of the story...I let it slide. wish the epi could have been longer, but they are never long en..."

Thanks. I wouldn't have minded it hadn't Robert called her Mama at the end. Us readers didn't get to see her earn that moniker. As for epilogues, I'd rather that when a story ends it just ends.

Anachronist wrote: "I see why you liked Minnie more than I did. Identity crisis indeed. You put your ideas across better than me. :)"

You flatterer. No, I don't.


Anachronist I didn’t believe she quite got there and that’s another reason why the epilogue felt like an easy out or a too tidy a bow on a messy gift wrapping.

I loved that comparison - another proof you are better with expressing yourself than me. No flattering. Why should I flatter you? ;p


rameau Let's file that tidy bow on a messy gift wrapping under "things that rameau writes when she's too tired to really think."


Anachronist rameau wrote: "Let's file that tidy bow on a messy gift wrapping under "things that rameau writes when she's too tired to really think.""

Pfffffft. It is a good similitude. If you write such things when you are tired I would like to read your not-tired-at-all review or even better, a not-tired-and-champagne-buzzed review.


Baba  ♥♥♥ Tyler, Marcus, Dean, Tate, Dan, Ty & Hunter The beginning was slow and felt like it was progressing in fits and starts. I’m not quite sure why, but the pacing felt off and didn’t get better until the later half of the book. I also wished there’d been more interactions between Minnie and Oliver considering their shared interest.

Very true, Rameau.

Great review!


Kathleen Good review. You said, "I’m not quite sure the Dowager Duchess earned her son’s forgiveness. She could have been on her way to achieving it, but I didn’t believe she quite got there."

I agree. She was a rotten parent all those years. Why was she featured in the epilogue, all happy? Also, I thought Minnie's horrible actions at 60% into the story were quite out of character. But a good read.


back to top