Recent Reading: The Duchess War, by Courtney Milan

Okay, this is not the first Courtney Milan romance I’ve read. It’s just nearly the first.

Also, this may be my new favorite romance novel ever.

When he meets her, Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, thinks that Minnie is a plucky, clever woman. That’s what I thought, too.

Shortly thereafter, he realizes she is actually waaaaay more than “plucky” and “clever.” This was a revelation to us both.

You know that post some time ago about really brilliant protagonists, like Azherit in Bradshaw’s Magic’s Poison series and Lord Vetinari and so on. Someone commented that most of these protagonists were men.

Well, not long after they meet, when Minnie and Robert are first sparring and the story is being set up, she says something like, “Yes, of course, you’re a duke and rich and everyone falls over themselves to do what you say, but on the other hand, I have …”

“Yes?” he demands. “What?”

“A sense of tactics,” she murmurs, and leaves him staring after her. I laughed out loud.

Fantastic setup. Great characters. Fundamentally simple, sure, but great. Minnie does not have the scope to show off her tactical brilliance as much as, say, Miles Vorkosigan. But she’s got enough scope to make me happy with the story.

I’ll give you one minor reveal: Minnie was raised as a boy until she was twelve.

Here’s a second reveal: when you think, But HOW could just being raised as a boy have been THIS traumatic, no matter what century this books was set in? you are right to think so. That was not the traumatic part, and the emotional scarring that Minnie carries around with her is not due to that. Associated, yes, but wow, is there more to that story.

It’s tough to design a male lead strong enough to play opposite Minnie, but Robert holds up his end of the story. In fact, in some ways he’s even my favorite character.

Lots of great secondary characters too. This is part of a series (“The Brothers Sinister”), so naturally we’re going to see those characters again.

The Governess Affair is a linked prequel novella, which I note is free on Kindle. I’m reading it now. It contains one of the very few sex scenes I did not skim lightly across. Looks like there are four novels in the series, plus another novella. There’s a boxed set, but since I already bought two novels and a novella separately, I guess I won’t get that, even though the price does make it a good deal.

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3 thoughts on “Recent Reading: The Duchess War, by Courtney Milan”

  1. I love this series – all the female protagonists are brilliant, unique characters. And, you didn’t even get to the one yet where one of the protagonists is basically an alternate history version of Mendel. I figure that will be a hit with you.

  2. SarahZ, I have at least encountered the guy who seems to be an alternate Mendel, and you are absolutely right. I’m looking forward very much to his book.

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