I’ve read the occasional romance novel over the years, to greater or lesser degrees of enjoyment but never really been captured. I’m caught now, though! I think I needed some Courtney Milan in my life.
After reading many reviews here at CBR I decided to take the plunge. I read Unclaimed in an evening. The next day I read Unraveled, the next day I moved on to The Duchess War (because it was free) then A Kiss for Midwinter. I can’t remember the last time I zipped through series so quickly. I’m basing this review on the 4 books in 2 different series that I’ve read so far.
I won’t review each book individually, they’ve all been reviewed here so many times. There are tropes that I can see even in my shallow experience of Romance, which you are all much more familiar with than I. The hero and heroine are very attracted but kept apart by some plot contrivance which they inevitably overcome to live happily ever after. Tropes are fine. I read mystery novels all the time and they also follow predictable structures. The enjoyment is in the characterizations ad writing, for me. I can re-read a mystery novel that I love, knowing the solution the whole time and still love it.
What I enjoyed was how Milan worked within the structures. I take it that she is not typical, and maybe that’s why my previous genre reads didn’t appeal? I really liked that her feminism dripped from every page. I know it probably isn’t “historically accurate” that all her heroes wanted equality with their partners, but if I’m reading escapist literature, I don’t need that kind of accuracy.
Her characters were all terrific. So realized and complex and interesting and ADULT. Not like, sexy-adult (although I did like that, oh yeah baby) but they were fully-functioning adult people who were dealing with their shit, not waiting to be “fixed” by their One True Love. I am a single lady in her 40s, I have no interest in reading about delicate flowers being seduced by handsome useless dudes. These were people that had serious reasons to resist falling for each other, not just Because Plot, but psychological and emotional issues to work out. I loved that for the most part, the women and the men were all “damaged” but had found ways to cope and survive before they ever met their match. To quote Dan Savage: you don’t have to be perfect but you do have to be in good working order.
Favourite Romance Man= Smite Turner. I may be revealing too much, but that darkness appeals, you guys. He turned his childhood abuse and PTSD into Justice. le sigh.
Favourite Romance Lady= Minerva Lane. She was so extraordinary and she had to make herself so small. What a character!
So now that I read Romance, what else should I read, oh Ladies of Love? 😉