Erika's Reviews > The Duchess War

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
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Dec 12, 12

bookshelves: historical, romance
Read from December 08 to 10, 2012

2.5 stars

It's very hard for me to rate this book. For a book with such a beautiful writing, it feels almost like a crime to give it a low rating. However, reading is not just a process of thinking, but also a process of feeling. And with romance genre, my rating should reflect how I feel toward the main characters and their way to get the HEA.

With this book, what I felt mostly was frustration.

When I've finished reading The Duchess War I liked the title even more because honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better title that could describe what I’ve found inside the book.

Terrible past. Trauma. Conflicts. Lies. Betrayals. Pain. More conflicts. More lies. More betrayals. More pain.

Hell, it is a WAR indeed.

Our heroine Minerva Lane has a traumatic past. So has the hero, Robert Blaisdell. I don’t know whose past is more terrible. The only difference is Minnie’s scar is visible while Robert’s is not. Because of her shameful past, Minnie has to live in lies such as hiding her true identity. Apparently a fake identity is not enough to convince us that she has a very bad past, so we also have to deal with her scar, her trauma, and her introverted traits. Minnie also suffers from a severe self-esteem issue. As much as I understand it is not her fault because her great aunts unintentionally shove uninspiring thoughts inside her head, I was tired with the repetition that: she is nothing, she can’t be more, she can’t hope. And then Minnie knows Robert and she is starting to hope. Who wouldn’t? Robert is all sweet, kind, and caring, pretty much a trademark of Courtney Milan’s heroes. He lives forever under his father’s shadow, he can’t forgive his mother, he believes no one could love him, and he’s desperately in need of love.

I didn’t like their desperate voices when they are alone, contemplating their pasts. But when Robert and Minnie are together their interactions were great. Courtney Milan also intelligently mixed the story with some historical facts which makes it more compelling. I had been compelled, before everything went downhill right after Robert (view spoiler).

The story raised its tension by using conflicts-storm and multiple plots-attacks. It’s like the author tried to use every possible way to make the characters as alive as they could. When a process to develop a great character is overdone, tiresome process is all I can see. However, I felt Minnie’s conflicts are not for nothing. I didn’t enjoy the process of her transformation to a better character, but I did like the outcome. Robert, on the other hand, was losing his authenticity. I could understand him no more.

(view spoiler)

It was very stressful to find that Robert was not the only character who does things contradictory to their nature. That is, if you really can be sure what is their true nature. Almost all of the supporting characters are there to provide more and more conflicts to the hero and heroine. Take Minnie’s great aunts, for example. They had saved Minnie and we can see they truly care for her. Yet it is because of them Minnie has the false believe that she is nothing. Robert’s mother is another example. She knows exactly she has miserably failed as a mother. When she reveals how she had been feeling when Robert was a child, at some point I did believe she possess a tiny bit of compassion. Yet she can easily transform to Cruella De Vil when she talks about Sebastian, her very own nephew, and Oliver, her late husband illegitimate son. How about Minnie’s bestfriend, Lydia? They appear to have a very strong friendship you can almost believe together they can move mountains. Yet when Lydia knows the truth about Minnie, the betrayal hurts Lydia so much she turns her back in an instant. (view spoiler) And is Oliver count? He’s been a great brother and friend to Robert. (view spoiler). Sebastian and Violet were the only two characters that genuinely there “only” to support the hero and heroine. But of course, because they don’t dramatises the story, they only have so much appearances.

In the end, I wasn’t happy when all the conflicts are resolved and comes the HEA. Robert and Minnie can betray each other once again for all I care. I just wanted to arrive at the last page safely and get over with it.

Will I continue the series? Most likely. Thanks to Courtney Milan's Christmas novella The Wicked Gift in The Heart of Christmas which I read in between my short break while reading The Duchess War, I have found hope in her stories again.

Buddy read with Anna and Mimi
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Reading Progress

12/08/2012
15.0% "“Family isn't a matter of history. Or biology,” he said softly. “It's a matter of choice. And don't look so grim. You know what I meant. Just because I refuse to let that man be my father doesn't mean you can't be my brother.”

What else do I need to love this brotherhood?" 4 comments
12/09/2012
51.0% "Hmmmm... the question has come out way too early."
12/09/2012
74.0% "Seriously?" 5 comments
12/10/2012
86.0% "Another plan to break another heart. How many hearts have to be broken to get their HEA?"
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Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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Erika It's going to be three stars Baba. A weak three stars. After the first 30-40%, everything went wrong for me.


Baba  ♥♥♥ Tyler, Marcus, Dean, Tate, Dan, Ty & Hunter Erika wrote: "It's going to be three stars Baba. A weak three stars. After the first 30-40%, everything went wrong for me."

I see. It was very slow-paced. Seriously, I have nothing against that. If anything, I appreciate a great build-up, however, the "climax" was very disappointing. After my last update (at 70 %) everything went down the drain. The plot was depressing. The book provided too many conflicts. Also, I think that (view spoiler) Definitely.


Erika I pretty much agree. For me it went downhill after (view spoiler) It was one of so many things that was put in the story to compromise what had happened in his past. But what is the purpose? I didn't get it. And yes, conflicts are all over the book.


Rain ~miss kinky knickers~ So far, this one seems like a disappointment all over the place.
Sorry it didn't work for you, sweetie! Looking forward to reading your review, though.


Baba  ♥♥♥ Tyler, Marcus, Dean, Tate, Dan, Ty & Hunter Yep. I agree, Erika. Dunno why he was (view spoiler) It was totally needless.


rameau The (view spoiler) issue didn't bother me because I thought it was well founded in his characterisation. Just think (view spoiler)

I'll be waiting to read your full review.


Erika Rain wrote: "So far, this one seems like a disappointment all over the place.
Sorry it didn't work for you, sweetie! Looking forward to reading your review, though."


Yeah it happens sweets, don't worry I'll get over this disappointment soon ;P Soooo how about our buddy read?

Btw I've just finished the review. Hope it helps sweets.


Erika Baba wrote: "Yep. I agree, Erika. Dunno why he was [spoilers removed] It was totally needless."

Thought so too Baba


Erika rameau wrote: "The [spoilers removed] issue didn't bother me because I thought it was well founded in his characterisation. Just think [spoilers removed]

I'll be waiting to read your full review."


rameau wrote: "The [spoilers removed] issue didn't bother me because I thought it was well founded in his characterisation. Just think [spoilers removed]

I'll be waiting to read your full review."


Rameau, I can understand your thoughts. It's just the way I see it, (view spoiler)


Baba  ♥♥♥ Tyler, Marcus, Dean, Tate, Dan, Ty & Hunter Excellent review, Erika! You really made some great points.


Rain ~miss kinky knickers~ Erika wrote: "Yeah it happens sweets, don't worry I'll get over this disappointment soon ;P Soooo how about our buddy read?

Btw I've just finished the review. Hope it helps sweets."


Great review, sweets! As I've already told Baba, I'll probably give it a chance, just because I've been waiting so long to read it, but I'm definitely not that impatient to start anymore. Not sure about (view spoiler). You know I like them experienced. LOL!

How about our buddy read? I'm ready, just let me know when.


Erika Baba wrote: "Excellent review, Erika! You really made some great points."

Thanks Baba! :)


Erika Rain wrote: "Erika wrote: "Yeah it happens sweets, don't worry I'll get over this disappointment soon ;P Soooo how about our buddy read?

Btw I've just finished the review. Hope it helps sweets."

Great review,..."


Yeah give it a go sweets, it worked pretty well with many readers, so it might as well work with you.

And do we need the list? the LIST?

Or we stick to the plan with Dream Man?


Rain ~miss kinky knickers~ Erika wrote: "Yeah give it a go sweets, it worked pretty well with many readers, so it might as well work with you.

And do we need the list? the LIST?

Or we stick to the plan with Dream Man?"


Nope, we'll save the LIST for later, and go with the Dream Man... unless you're in the mood for some *cough* experienced *cough* heroes (view spoiler)? description
It's up to you, sweets!


Erika Oh no, don't tell me Dream Man has (view spoiler)


Rain ~miss kinky knickers~ Erika wrote: "Oh no, don't tell me Dream Man has [spoilers removed]"

No, no, no... I should have said kinky (or added it somewhere to be clear) in the previous comment. LOL!
Don't worry, sweets, no (view spoiler) for you when I'm around. ;)


Erika Phewwww... http://www.smileycodes.info you scared me. I was like http://www.smileycodes.info

So when do we start! Up to you sweets! I'm ready!


Rain ~miss kinky knickers~ Wanna start now? Ready & willing, so... let's do it! :)


Erika Let's roll! :D


Rain ~miss kinky knickers~ Erika wrote: "Let's roll! :D"

Oh, fun, fun, fun! :D


rameau I've read through your review now and I don't know what to say. I guess (view spoiler)

It's a good review and just shows how different things we expect from a romance novel.


Kathleen What a thoughtful review. Thank you.


Erika rameau wrote: "I've read through your review now and I don't know what to say. I guess [spoilers removed]

It's a good review and just shows how different things we expect from a romance novel."


Yeah I guess it's about what we expect. Thanks Rameau.


Erika Kathleen wrote: "What a thoughtful review. Thank you."

Thanks Kathleen. You're very welcome :)


message 26: by Nana (new) - added it

Nana Love the review, Erika! Courtney Milan is one of my faves so I am (was) expecting a lot before I would go about reading this book. Haha. Thanks for the heads up. I'd have to read the book without sky-high expectation and you'd have saved me from a deep frustration.


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