I fell for Smite Turner extremely quickly and never looked back. He is without doubt one of the most original and oddly endearing romantic leads I've come across in a long time. Miranda is also extremely likeable and the sex scenes - though quite explicit at times - managed to avoid becoming tacky. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will probably re-read it at some point in the future. Unfortunately, however, having subsequently read 'Unlocked', I was disappointed to find that Ms Milan's standard had slipped and the book was extremely ordinary - banal, even. This is a pity because Unraveled is one of the best things I've come across recently and I was hoping I had found a new author.
Smite is a magistrate, a harsh, cold man who believes in justice before all else. Miranda is a woman of sometimes dubious employment, whose ideas about justice are not quite so black and white. They find themselves thrown together and their curiosity is aroused. It's not long before Smite's famous control is coming unraveled.
The first few chapters of this book are a little slow as the author sets out the characters, the location and the conflict of the book, but persevere and I promise it's worth it.
The author delights in setting up situations where you expect the characters to do something stupid to create conflict, and they don't. Miranda is shown to be strong and clever, and does what she must to survive, and I like that in a heroine. She's drawn to Smite in a paradox of wanting the danger of passion for an unavailable man, and the protection that he offers.
Smite is so wound up, the very restrained ways that he reveals his feelings for Miranda is delicious. His sentimentality quota, his perfect recall memory, his pragmatism: he's an interesting character with plenty of real flaws and problems.
I was a bit irritated by several references to 'Bristol bridge' - which in modern Bristol would mean the suspension bridge. It clearly isn't by its relative location, but I kept on thinking of the suspension bridge and so that jarred for me. (It must be the Baldwin street bridge I think.) But seriously, that's a very small annoyance in an otherwise great book.
I could rave for quite a while about all the things that I love about this book, but I'll let you discover how delicious it is for yourself.
I loved this book and read it in about a day! The main characters are all brillant, Smite (Lord Justice) is cold, harsh and even towards the end of the book he doesn't turn into a gooey wreck of a man. Milan manages to keep his character the same throughout the book, even though he comes to love Miranda we can see that he can't get away from his childhood or his duty easily. Miranda is a strong independant woman and all that, but I respected that when she was in trouble with the patron in one part of the book, she turned to Smite rather than run off like a silly heroine and get herself killed. Robbie is also complicated and his relationship with Miranda is strained most of the time, he acted like an adolescent and is a real character. I could go on for ages about how great Milan's characterisation is! I don't live in Bristol, or anywhere near it, but I found that the depiction of an industrial city in the 1800's was good. I believed what the author described and she did seem to know what she was talking about when it came to the law and all that sort of thing. 'Unraveled' even had a good plotline (shock horror for a historical romance!) and I was pretty surprised by how it all turned out, although I did kick myself for being slow because I'm sure anyone else could have worked it out. The romance in this book was very sweet as well, the love scenes are quite hot rather than usual boring, cliche and I've never been so glad as to see two characters end up together ;)
I am always on the look-out for new (to me) authors. Courtney Milan writes a great story keeping you involved with the personalities of her characters. Smite Turner is a magistrate who because of the cruelty and poverty he suffered as a child has grown into a cold unyielding man. His philosophy is that he must listen to anyone who comes before him in an effort to avoid injustice. His coldness has had him nicknamed Lord Justice. Having an incredible memory, when Miranda Darling appears in his court in disguise to act as witness for the accused he recognises her an follows her.
Miranda too has had a bad childhood and is living by her wits to protect herself and a boy she has befriended. Because of her talents in disguise born from being brought up with actors, she is set tasks by the unknown Patron (a kind of Mafia Don) in return for being able to live in a rough area of Bristol without coming to harm.
She intrigues Smite and he sets her up as his mistress for a month only, but wants no emotion involved in this arrangement. He has two brothers, one a Duke, who are worried by his reclusive ways and want him to be more a part of their families. When Miranda and her boy Robbie are threatened by the Patron Smite must confront his past and heal old wounds. He needs help.
I loved this book and now want to find other books written by Courtney Milan. Unfortunately, Unraveled is the last one in a trilogy and the other two are not in Kindle form.
I've read a lot from Courtney Milan before and I would recommend all of her books (Unlocked is a great place to start), but I think this one might be my favourite. I think that the characters are endearing, the plot is solid, and the chemistry is extremely well-written. I don't tend to find the sexual dynamic very interesting in romance novels (because they are so often excruciatingly badly written and cliched), but I genuinely found some of the scenes in this book *hot*. The writing style is also very refreshing--there is some lovely language, but it's never overwrought. The prose is crisp and concise, and the dialogue is engaging and frequently funny.
On top of everything else, Courtney Milan is a woman after my heart in terms of the social issues she sneaks in here and there. In the books that I'd read from her previously, she had worked in female masturbation as a positive and empowering thing, she had written a fantastic novel that successfully inverted the female virgin/male libertine dynamic, and she wrote heroes who had conditions like dyslexia, bipolar depression, and (probably) something like Asperger's. In this novel, there's a little bit of back-story devoted to a gay couple helping to raise the heroine. It's not a significant part of the novel in any way, and I'm sure you'll still enjoy the novel even if you're against gay marriage and gays being parents, but I really appreciated it. Romance novels--especially historical ones--can sometimes be the breeding ground for the most backwards, rigid, hetero-normative gender structures, and it's nice to see Milan pushing against those gender norms here and there.
In sum, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this book. It is sexy, funny, sweet, and extremely well-written. Buy it!
I found this a great read. A bit grittier than most others but so refreshing. Both characters, but in particular, Smite, we're very interesting characters and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop.
I love that the author obviously researched her background well and even took the trouble to explain any discrepancies.
i cant say enough for courtney milan. her writing just makes me escape into another world. the sense are high on alert and my mind is spinning with the pictures she creates in my mind. just wow. each of the characters are in depth and realistic and she brings together the impossible.