UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish's Reviews > The Duchess War

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
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Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.
The Duchess War is the first full length novel in Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series, and a story that I've been looking forward to. Having read The Governess Affair, the prequel to this story, and having read the epilogue that sets up this book, I knew that what was to come would be a wonderful, emotional read, but this... it was so much more than I had hoped for.
Cover blurb: Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly--so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…
Let me get this said right up front. This book is brilliant. The way Ms. Milan writes historical romances, the way she uses the ridiculous social standards of the times to not only hinder her characters but to make them triumphant – yes. Brilliant.

When I first began reading historical romances, I thought things like the ton, peerage, seasons, the need to marry well… I thought they were all silly things, a bunch of hogwash made up by authors to flesh out their stories. But then, as I did more research of this on my own, I discovered that not only was it not hogwash, it was often far worse than historical romance portrays it. So when I read books like The Governess Affair and The Duchess War, and knowing that this was a reality of the times, I find I become very emotionally attached to the… lessers. The Underdogs. Those who don’t fit and will never fit regardless of the kinds of people they are. It doesn’t matter how much good they do, how many lives they might save, or how they treat others. They would never fit. And yet there were those who took up more space than they were worth, but were welcomed wherever they went… it all seemed so unfair. So hopeless.

But not the way Ms. Milan tells the story.

The Duchess War is a story of right and wrong. Of honor - and not just honor when it’s convenient. It’s being a person of high integrity, no matter the cost - and in this story, the cost is terribly high. It’s also a beautiful romance. And not just about discovering love and holding on to it with every single thing you are - more importantly, it’s about being worthy of that love.

Robert and Minnie are such compelling characters, and had they been real people, I would truly believe that their chance meeting was destiny giving them a hand. They’re so very opposite from one another, but alike in the ways that matter. Both flawed, emotionally scarred people who recognized that in one another, and that's what drew them together. Were they perfect? No! They were human! There were times I was angry with Robert, times I was livid with Minnie, but in the end, I came to adore them both. And that's all that matters.

The bottom line: Courtney Milan never ceases to amaze me with her stories that are witty, clever, intelligent, sexy and so very romantic. She’s one of very few auto-buy authors on my list, one of the few whose stories I am guaranteed to love, and books like those found in The Brothers Sinister series are why.

So do yourself a favor and pick up the novella, The Governess Affair and this story, The Duchess War and settle in for two of the most delightful, poignant, lovely romances you’ll likely ever read.

My sincerest thanks to Ms. Milan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts with you. It was a true pleasure, start to finish.
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Reading Progress

07/19/2013 marked as: own-have-read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 64) (64 new)


Shannonreads like crazy I love Courtney Milan books and have been waiting for her new series.My interest was piqued by the Governess Affair. This book sounds great. Great review!


message 2: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Dec 19, 2012 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Shannon! I really enjoyed this story. It grabbed me emotionally - seeing all that Minnie had to fight for and all she stood to lose... there were times I teared up a bit... it's emotional, for sure, and like I said, brilliant! Robert is not your run of the mill duke, either. He's awesome!


message 3: by Dd (new) - added it

Dd Great review Dhes!!:))


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thanks, Dd! *hugs*


Tiffanyluvsaaron Wonderful Review. I love historical romances and you made this sound like a great book to read


Baba  ♥♥♥ Tyler, Marcus, Archer, Dean, Adrian, Dan & Hunter Great review, Dhes! Yeah, it's true, I was slightly disappointed. Glad you enjoyed it though. :)


Susanne Lovely lovely review Dhes! I'm also a big fan off Courtney Milan and it is high time to bump this up in the tbr! Sounds like a perfect Christmas read!


message 8: by Kristen (new) - added it

Kristen Lovely review, Dhes.


Jill You said exactly what I thought about this novel and CM's writing, Dhes! I loved it. Wonderful review!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Tiffluvsaaron wrote: "Wonderful Review. I love historical romances and you made this sound like a great book to read"

Thank you! Be sure to read the novella, The Governess Affair first. It really sets up this story and the relationship between Robert and Oliver. And it's a wonderful story, in and of itself!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Baba wrote: "Great review, Dhes! Yeah, it's true, I was slightly disappointed. Glad you enjoyed it though. :)"

Thanks, Baba! I truly hope the next book works for you.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Susanne wrote: "Lovely lovely review Dhes! I'm also a big fan off Courtney Milan and it is high time to bump this up in the tbr! Sounds like a perfect Christmas read!"

Thank you, Susanne! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I'm very much looking forward to the next book!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Kristen wrote: "Lovely review, Dhes."

Thanks, sweetie!!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Jill wrote: "You said exactly what I thought about this novel and CM's writing, Dhes! I loved it. Wonderful review!"

Thank you, Jill! This was different than I had expected, but still amazing. I knew it would be emotional, but my reaction surprised me. I began feeling so protective of both Robert and Minnie, even when they were doing things I wished they wouldn't do. I was totally invested!


Victoria Excellent review, Dhes.


message 16: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill UniquelyMoi *Dhestiny* BlithelyBookish wrote: "Jill wrote: "You said exactly what I thought about this novel and CM's writing, Dhes! I loved it. Wonderful review!"

Thank you, Jill! This was different than I had expected, but still amazing. I k..."


I think what I really appreciated here was CM allowing her characters to do the unexpected...even if it was wrong. For instance, when Minnie spoke against Robert. I thought no!! CM won't do that. But she did. And even at the risk of alienating readers from Minnie's character, I'm glad she did write it as those actions are very real and very human. And very relatable. Plus, I want something different to the usual and expected.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Victoria wrote: "Excellent review, Dhes."

Thank you, Victoria!


message 18: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Dec 19, 2012 02:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Jill wrote: "For instance, when Minnie spoke against Robert. I thought no!! CM won't do that. But she did. And even at the risk of alienating readers from Minnie's character, I'm glad she did write it as those actions are very real and very human. And very relatable. Plus, I want something different to the usual and expected."

Or when he did what he did, knowing it was the only thing to be done. I was so upset! I kept waiting for a different outcome.

Like I said, there were times I was angry at them both, but they both struggled and suffered to do the right thing, and I loved that!

There was nothing predictable about Robert or Minnie - at least not for me. Like I said, they were human, and their actions and reactions proved it.


message 19: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill UniquelyMoi *Dhestiny* BlithelyBookish wrote: "Jill wrote: "For instance, when Minnie spoke against Robert. I thought no!! CM won't do that. But she did. And even at the risk of alienating readers from Minnie's character, I'm glad she did write..."

Or when he did what he did, knowing it was the only thing to be done.
True!


message 20: by Elizabeth (Liz) (new)

Elizabeth (Liz) Wonderful review, Dhes!! I cannot seem to get into her stories, but I really wish that I could. I'm so glad you enjoyed this:)


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Elizabeth!!

Sometimes that's just the way it is. Authors who work for many others, don't necessarily work for all. I'm sorry CM isn't your cuppa, but I'm glad to know that you've found many amazing authors who are!


message 22: by Tiffanyluvsaaron (new)

Tiffanyluvsaaron Will do...thanks for the tip :)


KatLynne Fantastic review Dhes!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thanks, Kat! Happiest of holidays to you!


KatLynne UniquelyMoi *Dhestiny* BlithelyBookish wrote: "Thanks, Kat! Happiest of holidays to you!"

Thank you sweet friend! Wishing you much joy and the Merriest Christmas ever! Hope you and your family make wonderful, happy memories:)


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, honey!


message 28: by B-M (new) - added it

B-M Well what an amazingly convincing review! I NEVER read historical romances...probably only 2 that I can think of but I'm seriously going to get to this book over the break......you just might have made me a believer! Hallelujah!


Jannockj I completely agree with everything, I found it was the constraints of the time really emphasised the triumph of the characters and their HEA


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Bridget wrote: "Well what an amazingly convincing review! I NEVER read historical romances...probably only 2 that I can think of but I'm seriously going to get to this book over the break......you just might have ..."

Oooooh, how exciting! I'd suggest reading the novella I mentioned, first. That way you have a deeper understanding of the relationship between Oliver and Robert. It really brings a lot to this story!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Jannockj wrote: "I completely agree with everything, I found it was the constraints of the time really emphasised the triumph of the characters and their HEA"

And I love that about it!


Mary (I ♥ Books) great review! I just finished the novella and will start this one soon.


message 34: by Fil (new) - added it

Fil great review


message 36: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Just read this book over the holidays and LOVED it! You put it so much better than I did, of course, but I find that I am not surprised we are on the same page. :) I hope that all is well!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Hi, Jen! Thank you... and I'm off to read your review of this awesome book! LOVE this series!


message 38: by Roza (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roza Dimka Your review gives me hope. So I think I'll read it, like today.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Roza wrote: "Your review gives me hope. So I think I'll read it, like today."

Oh, I hope you enjoy it, too! The story is fun...unique. Loved it!


message 40: by Roza (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roza Dimka I didn't love it, regretfully but I can't wait to read Sebastian's story. Have you read that one?


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Roza wrote: "I didn't love it, regretfully but I can't wait to read Sebastian's story. Have you read that one?"

Yep! Love it, too!


message 42: by Roza (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roza Dimka Well then that seals the deal. ^_^


Bespectacledreader Seeing the word 'bespectacled' -> okay, I need to read this. Then I saw your review and I said I need to read this ASAP. Oh, I love how you review this book! I believe I've asked people regarding CM and they totally love her.


message 44: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Dec 10, 2014 08:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Bespectacledreader wrote: "Seeing the word 'bespectacled' -> okay, I need to read this. Then I saw your review and I said I need to read this ASAP. Oh, I love how you review this book! I believe I've asked people regarding C..."

Oh, YOU HAVE TO READ CM! She is wonderful! Her stories are often drawn from real life heroes and heroines, but told in such an entertaining way!! Have you read The Governess Affair ?

The blurb:

Hugo Marshall earned the nickname "the Wolf of Clermont" for his ruthless ambition--a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner's son to the right hand man of a duke. When he's ordered to get rid of a pestering governess by fair means or foul, it's just another day at work.

But after everything Miss Serena Barton has been through at the hands of his employer, she is determined to make him pay. She won't let anyone stop her--not even the man that all of London fears. They might call Hugo Marshall the Wolf of Clermont, but even wolves can be brought to heel...


message 45: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Wonderful review! I have yet to read this author. I will have to get this one. :)


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Lisa wrote: "Wonderful review! I have yet to read this author. I will have to get this one. :)"

OMG! Seriously?? Grab it while it's free, but do read the prequel... well, it's not totally necessary but you'll be dying to know what happened with Hugo and Serena and oh, how I love them and what they fought for and how they live....so, so good!


message 47: by ◊♦ Naomi (new)

◊♦ Naomi Love the review, Dhes! Same as Lisa, haven't read anything by this author! You tempt me.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish ◊♦ Naomi wrote: "Love the review, Dhes! Same as Lisa, haven't read anything by this author! You tempt me."

*gasp* You better get on the ball and give her a try. I'd hate to have to unfriend you and Lisa because you lack good taste in historical romance!!! ;)


message 49: by Bespectacledreader (last edited Dec 10, 2014 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bespectacledreader UniquelyMoi ~ The 1-click Diva wrote: "Bespectacledreader wrote: "Seeing the word 'bespectacled' -> okay, I need to read this. Then I saw your review and I said I need to read this ASAP. Oh, I love how you review this book! I believe I'..."

I haven't read it but I am super excited to check the bookstores and the local library for a copy :)) With your enthusiasm and positive reviews I am sure I will like CM too! Thank you for introducing her work to me. :)


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish You're so welcome! ENJOY!!!!!


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