Minnie Pursling is poor, plain, and obscure, and that’s the way she wants to keep it. She’s spent the last 12 years with her head down, trying to not catch anyone’s attention. Attention is bad. She’s got a secret she’s keeping from everyone, even her friends. Now she has to find herself some guy to give her a home, as plain as she is, or she’ll be living on the streets when her aunt dies. It’s a cruel world for a poor woman.
Robert Blaisdell, The Duke of Clermont, has a secret too. A Big One. No one would suspect this respectable gentleman of being a rabble-rouser. When Minnie stumbles upon his secret, she uses it as leverage to keep her own respectability. Robert has an unexpected reaction to her strategy, he kinda likes it and he likes her. Minnie is unsure about this kind of attention. Being in the spotlight is the last thing she wants, but Robert has her all turned around.
Courtney Milan really knows how to do romance right. The plotline is fresh without the standard beautiful heroine. Minnie is plain. Our handsome hero falls for her inner fire and her sharp intellect. Her secret is much more interesting than a Secret Baby or Sordid Past. Robert has Major Issues too but he didn’t take out his frustrations on womankind with his sexuality like so many damaged heroes do. In fact, one of the things revealed about Robert near the end is rather sweet. The Sexytimes didn’t make me laugh, which is a problem I’m having with a lot of romance lately. Milan can write a hot scene without making it sound ridiculous.
There were touching moments that melted my cold heart. Ones that felt genuine and not schmaltzy. The secondary characters have interesting backgrounds. I’m sure they’ll have their own storylines in the future, as The Duchess War is the first (sort of) in The Brothers Sinister series.
So yes, this was a win for cynical old “I’ve read it all before” me.
Note: There is a prequel novella, The Governess Affair, in this series which I reviewed last June.