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Milan's Duchess War: an almost perfect book
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 352
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JaneO wrote:
I had an entirely different problem with this book. I found the hero's mother simply unbelievable—a plot device rather than a person. This wouldn't matter if she were just a walk-on part, but she plays a significant role in the plot, and since I found her unbelievable, I had trouble accepting Robert's and Minnie's reactions to her.


I agree that the Duchess was a plot device. However I really do not have a problem with that. Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice was a plot device as was Mr. Collins. I think caricatures definitely have their place.
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jc



Joined: 24 Mar 2007
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm about half way through and really enjoying it. I have a question for those who have finished - not a big spoiler. I get why, but I find Minnie sad, unhappy and angsty which makes it hard for me to get why Robert is so attracted. I know what he is looking for in a person, but it just seems hard to be so attracted to so much misery. Does Minnie ever start to smile or laugh in the second half of the book?

Also, I just got to the part where the mother arrives. I see I'm in for some drama. Looking forward to it. Thanks.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 718
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm only about halfway through and too have noted Minnie's intensity. Robert though is an earnest man with a political agenda and remorseful feelings about his father's history, which may partially reflect why he's so drawn to Minnie. Unlike many more light-hearted romances, their belief system and experiences draw them together, or at least that's how I'm interpreting the first half of the novel. Liking it very much thus far!
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1446

PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert says repeatedly that Minnie "gets him" and genuinely "sees him." He dislikes being admired and fawned over constantly, just because of his title. People only see his title, they don't see him. But as soon as he knows that Minnie has figured out that he is the author, he knows that she really sees him, not the title. As they get to know one another, he is falls in love with her because she shares so many of his radical values; he's fascinated by her mind. He envisions what they could do together because she's so good at plotting strategy, a talent she learned at chess. Robert, in reaction to his father, holds himself to a very high standard of goodness, and I think it's a real relief for him to have someone help him maintain this level. I loved him as a character because he IS so good, but he's so human as well.

You see Minnie as dour, never smiling, etc. She has a great secret. She is terrified that she'll be found out, and she and her great aunts will become destitute and ostracized. She is not a light-hearted woman. She never becomes giggly, but she relaxes by the end of the book as she becomes freer and more powerful in her actions, partially because of Robert's love. I came to love her because she's sensible. I know that sounds very tepid, but she makes a decision toward the end of the book that is so mature, so sensible, so unselfish, so loving, that I couldn't help loving her in return.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great book, probably Milan's best so far. It was refreshing to read about the hero who doesn't sleep around (Milan seems to like them) while still being believably sexy Smile
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cheri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1350
Location: michigan

PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting, I didn't know she had a new book out. I <3 this author!

Cheri
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graceC



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 470

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a great book and definitely worth the long wait for me. I still don't know how I managed to restrain myself from reading this book until after Christmas, even though I downloaded it the day it's released. It's probably one of the best books I've read in a while.

One thing I love about Courtney Milan is her heroes. They're decent, honorable, mature, and they treat their heroines with genuine love and respect. Her heroines are great too, don't get me wrong.. and every inch the equal to her heroes; but her heroes are what set her books apart, IMO. They're how heroes should be.

I also appreciate the way Courtney Milan writes the story, very adult-like and, while there's some angst, she doesn't drag it out until the last paragraph.

All I can say is: thank you, Ms. Milan..! May the Muse be with you always!
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 718
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ended up with somewhat ambiguous feelings about The Duchess War. I truly loved The Governess Affair and it ended up being my favorite romance from 2012, and so perhaps I just had too high expectations for this book. Like others I really liked the hero. I enjoyed very much the backdrop of the events that unfold here, especially as workers' conditions are not a common topic in romance writing. I like too that Milan makes class an issue in her stories. I never really warmed to Minnie, however, even though I sympathized with her plight. The emotional and physical scars combined with the submersion of her personality and desire to hide from life rendered her less dynamic as a lead character in a romance novel. I found that I enjoyed the novel more as an interesting story about class warfare and the dying of the peerage instead of as a romance. The chemistry between the two leads wasn't there for me in this one and so I would probably rate this novel somewhere in the range of a B read.
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Islandgirl2



Joined: 14 Nov 2010
Posts: 282

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X good review. I do agree. Just finished finally and skipped your review to see if I agreed and I sure do.

While it didn't capture me as much as I'd have liked (Loved The Governess Affair) I did enjoy for all the reasons you named.

A little something was missing for me maybe more time on the secrets or questions on loyalty than perhaps the romance but all in all Courtney Milan is one talented author that makes you appreciate the questions she brings to her characters and their relationship. It is never cut and dry with outsmarting the obstacle in the story for the couple.

I found myself too not loving Minnie for some reason to then liking her later.

And can I say I was happy that Robert wasn't your typical rake/male slut. Nice change!

Looking forward to reading about Lydia's romance with Dr. Jonas. Very intrigued to learn more about Oliver.

Hmmm not so sure about Sebastion. It's a personal taste of just being tired of the jaded rake.....but I'll have to judge after I've read really.

Enjoy for anyone who hasn't gotten to this one yet.
_________________
Romance my favorite reading pastime.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1446

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your comment, Blackjack1, is very interesting. Your objections to Minnie's character are exactly why it took me a while to warm up to her, but I couldn't express it as well as you did. Although we have tons of self-sacrificing romance heroines, they usually fail to recognize, in their eager self-immolation, that their self-sacrifice would bring true misery. They are, of course, rescued by the hero. Minnie is willing to sacrifice herself; after all, she's done it all her life, but she's not a victim. She's too aware. Once she realizes that her solution will not bring her safety, she changes. I respected the difficulty of truly confronting reality and changing. She appealed to me, in spite of her initial distance, because she wasn't masochistic OR stupid. I loved the theme that a loving relationship can bring the whole person out, that it allows her to become more than she would have been without it. Although this theme is so common in romances (the plain woman who blooms), usually it's not done as well. Usually, the hero acts upon the heroine, changing her. In this book, each changes him/herself AND the other.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X wrote:
I think your comment, Blackjack1, is very interesting. Your objections to Minnie's character are exactly why it took me a while to warm up to her, but I couldn't express it as well as you did. Although we have tons of self-sacrificing romance heroines, they usually fail to recognize, in their eager self-immolation, that their self-sacrifice would bring true misery. They are, of course, rescued by the hero. Minnie is willing to sacrifice herself; after all, she's done it all her life, but she's not a victim. She's too aware. Once she realizes that her solution will not bring her safety, she changes. I respected the difficulty of truly confronting reality and changing. She appealed to me, in spite of her initial distance, because she wasn't masochistic OR stupid. I loved the theme that a loving relationship can bring the whole person out, that it allows her to become more than she would have been without it. Although this theme is so common in romances (the plain woman who blooms), usually it's not done as well. Usually, the hero acts upon the heroine, changing her. In this book, each changes him/herself AND the other.


I agree with your comments about Minnie. She's not an easy woman for the reader to love, even though her reasons are understandable. But she upends both our and Robert's expectations many times, and it is clear why Robert falls in love with her. And she is not completely dour, as is shown by her responses in the train scene (which I found both funny and revealing of character).

I also liked this for the echoes of Gaskell's North & South, although it focused less on the actual working class than did the earlier novel.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 718
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X
Quote:
Minnie is willing to sacrifice herself; after all, she's done it all her life, but she's not a victim. She's too aware. Once she realizes that her solution will not bring her safety, she changes. I respected the difficulty of truly confronting reality and changing. She appealed to me, in spite of her initial distance, because she wasn't masochistic OR stupid. I loved the theme that a loving relationship can bring the whole person out, that it allows her to become more than she would have been without it.


I agree that Minnie does confront her fears and experiences and transforms herself by the end. Milan allows her female characters strength and autonomy. The Duchess War has so many elements of a very good story, but as a romance it didn't unfortunately work that well for me, and I suppose that if I had to put my finger exactly on why, it would have to be because the characterization of Minnie was too convincing as a repressed (and depressed) woman. I felt a bit too weighted down by this representation. Minnie's desire to fade into the background and present herself to the world as a listless person didn't make her believable enough as a romantic lead. I wanted also more of her transformation to involve her love affair with Robert. The short honeymoon was alas a little too short before we are pulled back to the consequences of Robert's clandestine rabble rousing, and then to a swift conclusion. When I look back on the book now that it's been at least a week since reading, it's the class conflict and its consequences that stick in my mind rather than the romance.
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Pan's Wife



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with the more negative reviews. Although the writing is excellent, the hero and heroine did not pull me in. I loved the scene where they first met and the train scene with Robert's relatives, but most of the events felt flat and draggy. Even Paris was a bit of a yawn. The story Robert tells Minnie at breakfast about his mother made me feel pity for him at a time in the story I really wanted to see him as the hero and not still a victim. In fact both sort of remain victims for me the entire book. Robert doesn't even call upon Minnie's strengths when the events could benefit from her wisdom. The historical inaccuracies also bothered me, but they have been well covered in other reviews. Overall, I love this author, but not this particular story.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 718
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did anyone get a chance yet to read Milan's follow-up novella, A Kiss for Midwinter? I want to read it soon but am just curious to read opinions about it. Thanks!
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 718
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did anyone get a chance yet to read Milan's follow-up novella, A Kiss for Midwinter? I want to read it soon but am just curious to read opinions about it. Thanks!
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