Tag Archives: Worth Saga

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.

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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.