Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Unveiled

Courtney Milan
Historical Romance
384 pages
Available Now
Received for review thanks to Joni at Paragraph Books and Books With Bite

Lady Anna Margaret Dalrymple is no longer considered a lady by her peers. Stripped of her title when she and her brothers were declared bastards as her father's first marriage came to light, she is now posing as her father's nurse in order to observe the man who's ruined her life.

Ash Turner has been seeking revenge on the Dalrymple family since Margaret's father the duke denied him any assistance when he was younger despite his desperate pleading. Now, Ash has moved into the ducal manor to set his affairs in order as he is confident Parliament will rule in his favor and give him the dukedom despite the legal protests of Margaret's older brothers. He expects his retribution to heal the wounds inflicted by the duke's negligence, but what he's not expecting is Margaret herself.

Margaret tries to hate Ash for what he's done, but she finds herself not as immune to his attentions as she wishes to be, making her duty to her family difficult to fulfill as she does not wish to betray the man she's coming to care for. She knows when her secret is revealed, Ash's affections will be withdrawn and he'll reject her for what she's done and who she is, but she's simply unable to let it stop her from experiencing the man who makes her feel important as a woman whether she's a servant or a lady.

Unveiled reveals to us a time in history when wealth and social standing were the sole defining characteristics of a person's worth, their entire being summed up in a fancy title and a series of numbers on paper. In the midst of the glittering superficiality of this world to which few of us can possibly relate, Ms. Milan creates for us two protagonists who draw us into their story with ease, and we read utterly enraptured as Ash and Margaret's conflicting goals begin to shift and alter as their relationship progresses, but the weight of society's expectations is ever present and a constant reminder of the time in which they live. We plow recklessly forward with the two of them, hearts in our throats as we are painfully aware of the pressure resulting from their respective stations and watch helplessly as it wreaks havoc on their romantic entanglement.

One of the shining strengths of this story is male lead Ash, a man who unequivocally knows what he wants, sets out to claim it, and achieves his purpose with a charm and grace expected of a gentleman of the time, but also with a lack of artifice and mock dignity so many of the social elite thoroughly embrace as they hide their selfishness and greed behind a good family name. Ash is nothing other than honest, his intentions toward Margaret sometimes slightly less than honorable as he makes his attraction abundantly clear, but his feelings never waffle and his affection never abates despite outside familial and societal influence. Though he is plagued by a need for vengeance for the suffering endured by his two younger brothers, it's always those he cares about who come first. He often hurts others in his haste to please those he loves, but it's a flaw we ultimately understand and can't entirely hold against him, especially when the men of influence around him gladly sacrifice friend, family, or foe to gain more sure footing among the privileged.

So many times in romance novels, the focus on the male and female protagonists is so singular secondary characters become merely fleeting references instead of flesh and bone individuals who earn our loyalty and affection as much as the main characters do. This is most certainly not the case in Unveiled, as the emphasis on family dynamics and the joys and pains that result from interacting with those who know us best, and therefore can hurt us most deeply, is prominent. Ash's relationship with younger brother Mark and Margaret's connection to her invalid father are as emotionally taxing as the sensual turbulence between the two of them, creating an additional level of intimate knowledge we didn't necessarily expect but are more than grateful is included. For Ash and Margaret, two people with exceptional fortitude and strength of will, family is their greatest vulnerability–the one thing that belies the impenetrable mask they present to society, and our access to both their passionate relationship with one another and their personal struggles with those who share their blood is an enchanting combination that results in a richer, deeper, and far more memorable reading experience.

Lovers of historical romance will surely delight in this story, but it's appeal will certainly extend to those who love to be swept up in strong characters and engaging stories regardless of the time period in which they are set.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Thank you for this review, I have been eyeing this book and based on your review I will be picking this one up.

  2. I'm not really sure that I will ever be a reader of adult romance novels. That said, I would like to give it a try sometime, just to be sure.
    I like how you say the secondary characters play a more significant role in this one than in other romance novels. I'm pretty sure I would dislike it if a romance novel focused almost solely on the male and female protagonists.

  3. Great review Jenny. Not a big fan of historical fiction but Ash, the male lead, does sounds interesting ;) ;)

  4. I have never read any romance novels but I LOVE historical fiction. One day, I might try a historical romance :)

  5. While I love historical fiction I am not big on the romance aspect, which often seems way too formulaic to me. Great review though as always!

  6. I can't say I'm a lover of historical romance, but this one sounds interesting and that cover is very sexy!

  7. Great review Jenny. Mandi reviewed this one and really seemed to like it.

  8. I love that the story within the novel actually sounds promising in Unveiled. So often, historical romance loses a plot in overly muddled details, you know? Fabulous review...I'm adding this to my wishlist, Jenny :)

  9. Jenny!

    Another Ash to fall in love with. Can my heart take it?

    I'm slowing learning to love historical romances more and more, and this one definitely sounds appealing.

  10. BLHmistress - You definitely should, it was a great read!

    Aylee - I originally never thought I would be a fan of romance either and kind of stuck my nose up at it, but there are some wonderful stories out there, and this is one of them:)

    Nic - Ash was fabulous!

    Misha - I hope you do:)

    Jan - It can definitely be formulaic at times, but I like them, they're a nice break from all the YA angst for me:)

    Slowest - It was very interesting, I thought it was a great story with really strong characters.

    Tori - Thanks! I read Mandi's review and agreed with her completely.

    Melissa - I don't read too many historical romances for just the reason you said, but this one the characters really shine through all the details.

  11. Missie - Right? There are so many good Ash's out there! You should give this one a try, I think you'd like Ash and Margaret:)

  12. Historicals were what started my love of Romance :) I am starting to read them more and they are making another upsurge in the market again (YEAH)! This one is on my wishlist, it just looks yummy :)

  13. I love that this romance is more fleshed out than what we are used to seeing when it comes to characterization!

    Awesome review Jenny! You rock.

    Check Out My Early Review of The Demon Trapper's Daughter

  14. Felicia - I think you'll like it, I was really pleasantly surprised since historical romance isn't really my genre, I tend to stick to the weres and vamps:)

    Brandi - It is a hot cover, but tasteful which I like:)

    Carissa - Me too! I was quite in love with Ash and I'm really excited to read his brother Mark's story, he was a very interesting character.

  15. Oh this one sounds interesting. Ash certainly does! Hm... might have to pick this one up.

  16. I have a soft spot for historical romances :o) This one sounds very promising! Every now and then I will get such a huge craving for a historical romance, so it helps to know which authors write the really good ones :oP Great review!

  17. I don't really read adult novels much and especially not adult romances but if I did, I'd probably add this one to my wishlist since not only are the protagonists well-developed but so are the secondary characters.

  18. So I've never read a Harlequin romance. How racy do they get. Actually scratch that...I'm sure they vary widely. How racy does this book get? I think I'd enjoy a historical romance but I'm not into reading things with lots and lots of sex in them. Some is okay, but there only so much I can take without gagging.

  19. Melissa - I loved Ash, I love when male characters are unapologetically themselves regardless of what those around them think:)

    Laura - I'm going to start reading more of them I think, and I'd definitely read more from this author.

    Zahida - If you ever decide to pick a romance up, this might be a good one to test the waters with:)

    Alison - Sent you an email:)

  20. Sounds like another one I would like, its been a while since I picked up a historical romance.

  21. Squee!!!! So glad you like Ash. He is my fave guy! (well no actually Bones is) but at the moment I really enjoyed reading about their love. Great review!!

  22. I've heard such great things about this author-but haven't read her yet. I am so going to have to get on this! Wonderful review.

  23. I don't read Historical Romance, however, one of my goals this year is to read at least one book a month out of my "norm". This is added to that list! Thanks!

    If people keep naming their characters Ash, I may have to rethink one of my way-in-the-future baby names!