Tag Archives: Courtney Milan

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Heroes and Heroines

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

Inspired by a commenter’s request, these are my favourite romance novel heroes and heroines, and I have a separate post for my couples. Ranking them would take too long, so I haven’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Favourite Heroes

Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron  – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting
Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year M/M clarification: Graham
Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant
Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night – Top 5 Hero
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  TWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger
Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney Unveiled – I’d marry him.
Milan, Courtney Unraveled FAVE
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter  CLASSIC
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Zapata, Mariana Kulti 

My Favourite Heroines

Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  CLASSIC
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Heyer, Georgette Venetia
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo She’s amazing.
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring 
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – I’d marry her.
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette ScandalI want to be her.
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Florand

So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

Alternatively: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

This recommendations list is gleaned from at least 80 authors and over 500 books.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Looking for something specific? Here’s a list of authors I’ve read enough to see thematic consistencies and it’s hard to go wrong with these writers:

Tessa Dare – FUN, bring your willing suspension of disbelief, on double-secret probation right now
Laura Florand – contemporary romances set in France, great intensity
Carla Kelly – lovely Regency romances, often military-themed
Lisa Kleypas  – the gold standard, also writes contemporaries
Julie Anne Long – extremely clever and funny
Courtney Milan – The very best currently publishing, one for the pantheon.
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons.

I lovehate Jennifer Ashley’s sincere romance mired in tortured heroes and overwrought plotting.

This list is an edited version of my Complete Reading List by Author. Reviewed books are linked.

Mallory, a frequent commenter, asked me to make a personal Top 5 list. I tried. I couldn’t do it.

CLASSICS

  1. Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous – historical
  2. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date  – new adult novella
  3. Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrelshistorical
  4. Gabaldon, Diana Outlanderhistorical
  5. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia) – historical
  6. Jenkins, Beverly Indigo  – historical
  7. Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm old school, historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of Youhistorical
  9. Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter  – historical
  10. Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke – historical
  11. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter – historical novella
  12. Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  – historical
  13. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle – historical now, but not when published
  14. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton  Bridgerton Book 4 – historical
  15. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game – contemporary

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The Worth Saga: Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan
Iconoclast

… is what I assume Ms. Milan’s business cards say.

Could she please to stop almost bringing me to tears with her messages of empowerment and self-determination? Why almost? Because I am made of steel. Why tears? Because the truths she writes about touch me deeply.

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Her Every Wish is the first novella in Milan’s new Worth Saga Victorian romance series. In the long-term, it will contain eight books for us to devour, for now there is just one other novel, Once Upon a Marquess, which I don’t recommend. I do suggest you read this one though, most ardently. Do some stretches first. You’ll want to be limber for all the fist pumping you find yourself doing.

Sole supporter of herself and her invalid mother, Daisy Whitlaw “manages” financially with her job at a flower shop and her mother’s occasional tatting work. Even so, like everyone, she dreams of more, so she has entered a charity competition to try to secure 50 pounds and open Daisy’s Emporium, a shop that will cater to working class women by providing affordable clothing and small luxuries. She knows it is virtually impossible that she will win, but, goddamn it, she will try. Derided by most of those present, Daisy is still allowed to move along in the competition. Witnessing her first pitch to the judges is her former inamorato, Crash, and he hatches a plan to help Daisy and himself.

Crash seeks Daisy out to assist in preparing for the final presentation, and to help his odds on the bets he has taken on the outcome of the competition. They were devoted sweethearts in the past, but Daisy is determined not to fall back into Crash’s arms and he is equally sure he doesn’t want her to. Equally aggrieved of each other in their parting, this is to be a business arrangement. At least, that’s what they tell themselves. Crash begins with velocipede riding lessons as he teaches Daisy that the necessary response to (riding) challenges is to go faster.

Clash, no last name, is a bright, charming man with an intractable vision for his own future. Bisexual and of mixed race, he has used his verve and ironclad self-worth to create a life on his own terms in a world that not only doesn’t necessarily welcome him, but goes so far as to question “What are you?” in their quest to lower him. People may find him attractive, but being enticingly exotic is just another pigeon-hole the culture uses to limit him.

The strength and courage to be true to yourself and, more importantly, insist on it when the world tries to slap you down is a theme in all of Milan’s books. Never preachy, never saccharine,  and eliciting some barks of laughter, Her Every Wish has themes of personal strength, identity, and autonomy, reminding readers that the world may try to stand in our way, but that life’s smaller victories, such as those of Crash and Daisy, are what pave the way for those and them that follow (see also: The Suffragette Scandal).

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A complete summary of Courtney Milan’s catalogue and the books in the Worth Saga, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

Links to reviews can also be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

 

 

 

The Worth Saga: Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan is the best, the very best, romance writer currently publishing, but she is not perfect and Once Upon a Marquess is a delightfully imperfect novel. Her trademark elements – eloquence, unexpected romantic moments, family politics, deciding for oneself who one will be – are here, they just don’t come together quite as successfully as they have in some of her previous efforts. The first book in her new Worth Saga, Milan is laying a lot of groundwork and she is mostly successful in establishing not only the main characters, but the necessary supporting relationships that leave the reader looking forward to the novels to come. I’d pre-order them now, if I could.

Lady Judith Worth is living in less than genteel poverty after a treasonous father and brother ruined the family name and fortune. At 26, she has held her remaining family together for eight long years through force of will and the kind of determination a general would marvel at. In her care, she has a fourteen year-old sister and a twelve year-old brother. The latter has just come home from a term at Eton, bloodied, bowed, and refusing to return. The former is somewhat spoiled and meant, I think, to come across as eccentric, but I found myself wanting either a fuller explanation for her behavior or some movement towards maturity. I assume both the reasons for her character and the growing up will be ongoing through the series.

Christian Trent, the Marquess of both Ashford and the novel’s title, comes back into Judith’s life when she requests his help. Once upon a time, they were young and in love. Once upon a time, he was asked to press the case against Judith’s brother and he did so successfully. Knowing he broke her heart – and she his – Christian wants nothing more than to do something, anything, to help the Worth family, even if it means keeping himself from Judith. He really does try, but Judith may be practical and managing quite well as head of the family, but she’s still unable to resist to the undeniable chemistry Milan has created for her leads. It handily separates itself from the “his eyes looked into her soul” fare of many genre works and, like real life couples, Judith and Christian have so much fun together and truly revel in each other’s company. Of course, their history stands in their way and Judith is determined to forge ahead on her own, but Christian is the world’s most adorable and charming tortured hero even when his quirkiness can be a bit much.

A complete summary of Courtney Milan’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here. Since it’s the holiday season, I’ll specifically recommend A Kiss for Midwinter as both a classic of the genre and one of my top five (three? two?) romances of all time.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

Links to my reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Courtney Milan’s Catalogue

The Themes: Don’t let anyone tell you who you are, only you get to decide that. Fear is a waste of energy and

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HISTORICAL ROMANCES

The Carhart Series:
This Wicked Giftwonderful, sweet
Proof by Seduction – for completists, you can see her potential
Trial by Desire – one of only two Milan books I don’t recommend

The Turner Brothers Series:
Unveiled – This is the romance novel hero I would marry, given that choice.
Unclaimed – She’s the rake in need of reformation.
Unraveled – great and a personal favourite
Unlocked – a bullied woman finds peace

The Brothers Sinister Series:
The Governess Affair – very good novella
The Duchess War great
A Kiss for Midwinter (novella)– CLASSIC and an absolute favourite
The Heiress Effect – the secondary plot was lovely
The Countess Conspiracy fantastic
The Suffragette Scandal CLASSIC
Talk Sweetly to Me (novella) – good not great

The Worth Saga: Starting 2015
Once Upon a Marquess – nah
Her Every Wish novella – excellent
After the Wedding
The Devil Comes Courting
The Return of the Scoundrel
The Kissing Hour
A Tale of Two Viscounts
The Once and Future Earl

Independent Novellas:
The Lady Always Wins – fair
What Happened at Midnight – fair

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES

The Cyclone Series:
Trade Megreat
Hold Me – very good
The Year of the Crocodile (novella)
Find Me
Keep Me
Show Me
What Lies Between Me and You

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