PUBLISHER: Courtney Milan
RELEASE DATE: May 2011
FORMAT: Ebook, 111 pages
GENRE: Historical Romance
A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back. Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…
This is the first Courtney Milan I’ve read, and to be honest I purchased it because it was a Kindle freebie. But I was delighted to find it was a great read. For a novella, the story is delivered with surprising depth, and I wasn’t left unsatisfied wishing the author had taken more time to tell the story, which is often the case with novellas.
UNLOCKED is such a lovely story. But at the heart of it, is an ugly subject – bullying. Lady Elaine, our heroine, has spent ten years being the subject of society’s cruel amusement. There were times when my heart completely went out to Elaine, also referred to as Lady Equine due to her rather loud laugh. She manages the unkind barbs her peers deliberately throw at her with grace and strength.
It didn’t matter what people said; if you pretended not to hear it, they couldn’t embarrass you. She need show no reaction, need show no shame. If you didn’t acknowledge what they said, you need shed no tears.
Oh how some of these scenes affected me. I wanted to hug her and then slap her tormentors silly. Watching how she slowly diminished and did begin to crumble under their bullying was heart breaking.
Then there’s Evan. Evan has been away from society for over ten years, enjoying the thrills as a mountaineer. But he lives with the regret that he was one of the people that originally instigated the bullying against Elaine. You are not aware of who he was in the past, although you get an impression, but you do begin to admire the man he has become.
How can Elaine trust him, let alone love him? Evan’s path to redemption is as enjoyable as Elaine’s to freedom. If you love grand gestures, you really will adore Evan. Milan manages to convey sadness and alienation in one part, with love and that delicious cosy romance feeling in the next.
There was one scene that didn’t quite work for me, which was the the final big love/consummation scene. You know when a character does something that is quite out of character, that it jars you out of the story and the fantasy in your head? Well…that. But the writing was such, that I was easily swept back in again.
I will definitely be picking up something by Milan again, she has a sweet, seductive writing style that is easy and enjoyable. This is a great Sunday afternoon read for people who believe that love conquers all.
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