The Duchess War is the first novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 23.5.2021
[Here’s my review of the prequel novella.]
Minnie has perfected the art of going unnoticed. After a scandal forced her to change her name, she had no other choice. Now all she needs is a husband to find some security in her life. Impoverished and with her secret, she doesn’t have much choice. That is why she really can’t have it that none other than the Duke of Clermont, Robert Blaisdell, seems to actually notice her. His curiosity about her is a threat, and Minnie is determined to uncover his secrets first to protect herself. This decision leads both of them down unexpected paths.
The Duchess War is a really sweet book with wonderful protagonists and a good plot that makes good use of the period it is set in. More importantly, it’s easy to root for Millie and Robert and to enjoy their falling in love.
I have said it before, I will say it again: historical romances usually aren’t my genre. But I have liked everything I read by Milan so far and I have run out of contemporary stuff she’s written, so I dipped my toe into her historical stuff and I guess I just fell headlong into the pool here. The Duchess War is definitely a good read, even if I may have liked The Governess Affair (the prequel novella) a tad better.
I really enjoyed how Milan works with the time period this is set in (which is usually my biggest problem in historicals – they tend to romanticize or simply bend to modern sensibilities). Yes, both Minnie and Robert are very progressive for their time, but the societal rules don’t change because two people are very progressive, and Milan always seems aware of the realities of the time (as far as I can judge that, I’m no history scholar) and works with them, instead of plowing through them.
Both Minnie and Robert get their fair share of baggage, though I found that Minnie is the stronger of the two. Yeah, she gets anxiety attacks (and those aren’t suddenly magically healed, yay for that), but she can handle herself. With Robert there is this incredibly vulnerability that made me feel like he could break at any second (and I’ll be damned if I didn’t shed a tear or two at his backstory). Most importantly, though, they both have to learn to let the other take care of them, and it was beautiful to read that journey.
I also liked the people that surrounded them. I honestly can’t wait to read Violet and Sebastian’s book, those two had me in stiches. But really, I’m looking forward to the entire rest of the series. If they’re all this good, I might have to strike “I’m not so much into historical romances” from my vocabulary.
Summarizing: really good.