Rachel Brown's Reviews > Unraveled

Unraveled by Courtney Milan
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Aug 10, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: romance, historical, england

This book was basically written for me: a sweet, sexy romance, with some action and lots of psychologically-based angst. Bonus points for including a bunch of stuff which I happen to like, including scenes at a theatre, food descriptions, characters with families and responsibilities, period-accurate birth control (it bugs me when I keep thinking that the heroine is going to get pregnant at any moment), and a "mistress for a month" agreement.

I managed to read the last in the series first, but it didn't seem to matter. It's a series of historical romances about three brothers who were raised by a psychotic, abusive mother, and what happens to them afterward. In an afterword, Milan said that she was interested at looking at how different people react differently to similar events: a theme right up my alley.

This book focuses on the middle brother, Smite (short for a long Bible verse) Turner, who grew up to be a justice-obsessed magistrate with PTSD. I would love to claim the credit for the increased frequency, realism, and individuality of portrayals of PTSD in romance novels, but I think it must be some sort of zeitgeist phenomena. Anyway, it's very believable, and, of great interest to me, the way he thinks about and deals with it is also very believable.

There was a point early on where he tells the heroine that he isn't broken and doesn't need fixing, and I thought, "Oh, God, here comes the anachronistic lesson on the social construction of disability!" Thankfully, later events proved that he had something much more specific and personal in mind. (Nothing against the social construction model! But while I don't look to romance novels for historical accuracy, I do look to them for plausible characterization. And while people with PTSD often have very complicated mixed feelings about getting better, there is a lot of inherent suffering going on completely apart from social stigma and lack of accommodations.)

I also liked the dialogue, the subplot involving the heroine's entanglement with a mob boss, and the way that the characters consistently told each other what was going on, thus averting a great many opportunities for stupid misunderstandings. They were adults with problems, who acted like adults. Also, I count five sympathetic gay men in the cast. Good going.

Milan was a Harlequin author who decided that she could do better self-publishing. This book is selling for under four dollars on Kindle.
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04/02 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Estara You bring it to the point much better - but then I would have expected that from a writers ^^


Wealhtheow Very well put! I was astounded when Miranda flat-out told Smite about the blackmail attempt. I'd wished she would, but never expected she would. Kudos to Milan for writing brave and sensible characters! There have been scads and scads of plots dependent on misunderstandings and lack of communication, so it's delightful to have an author sidestep the trope.


Rachel Brown I love romance where the protagonists actually talk to and trust each other.


Wealhtheow Me too! It's weird that it's so rare, but I bet it's harder to write natural dialog than histrionics about someone being kidnapped or the like.


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