Talk Sweetly is the final installment (in the form of an additional novella) in the Brothers Sinister Series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 16.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]
Content Note: (critical treamtent of) racism/misogynoir
Rose Sweetly works as a computer at the astronomy department. She is happy when she gets to do math, especially in the field of astronomy, though very few people around her understand that passion. Stephen Shaughnessy is a satirical columnist for a feminist newspaper where he dispenses the wisdom only an Actual Man can share. He also lives next door to Rose and is utterly enchanted by her and her science rants. So much so that he hires her to tutor him in math. And if something more should develop, even better.
Talk Sweetly to Me was a really nice addition to the series, one that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. It combines political issues with a very nice romance in a very balanced way that I very much enjoyed.
Talk Sweetly to Me is a quick read and I am a little sad that it is “only” a novella – I wouldn’t have minded spending more time with Rose and Stephen. Not because their story doesn’t feel well-rounded but just because I really liked them and their story.
Rose is Black (which is great because Black protagonists are rare enough in romance and rarer still in historical romance) and the novella isn’t shy to point out how much racism she (or her sister) has to encounter. Especially as a Black woman. Milan doesn’t spend much time with subtlety when it comes to misogynoir – and that’s only fair since misogynoir isn’t subtle at all. But Rose herself isn’t defined by the prejudices she faces, although they clearly have an effect on her and her life. She is much more defined by her love and talent for math, and I totally understand why Stephen is so enchanted with her when she goes on one of her rants. I had hearts in my eyes myself.
I enjoyed how Rose is not naive, despite not being experienced, and how she walks with seeing eyes into the relationship with Stephen. Even though she should know better. even though it probably isn’t the greatest idea. Even though it certainly isn’t safe.
I also really liked Stephen. He reminded me a little of Sebastain (of The Countess Conspiracy) in that he is a rake and flirtatious and doesn’t deny having had his fair share of women, but at the same time he is utterly serious about Rose and pretty straightforward with his courtship of her. But he did work a little better for me than Sebastian because there was just less angst, hurt and bitterness between him and Rose. And he was funnier. I did swallow a little at him going to her boss to ask in this roundabout way for her to tutor him – that’s crossing several lines at once. But since he was absolutely respectful of every other boundary, I could forgive him for that.
To sum up: I liked these two people, and I liked watching them come together, and I liked that some serious issues were examined along the way. In short, there is little else I would as for in a romance novella.
Summarizing: extremely nice.