Review: Once Upon a Marquess

by Courtney Milan
Amazon Link

5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Sub-genres: Victorian
Heat level: spicy

I was in the mood for a “sure thing” this weekend. No, not that John Cusack movie from the 80s, but a book that I knew I would like even though I’ve never read it before. I have a list of go-to-authors for just such an occasion. Courtney Milan is one of them.

Side note that won’t go into the Amazon version of this review: One of the things I’ve never noticed before is how many of Milan’s romances are self-published. I’m sure there’s a story behind that, but her writing is invariably tight. I have no doubt the path she chose is not an easy one, but she may be a good role model for other authors who are thinking of self-publishing. Now back to my review…

The characters in Once Upon a Marquess are certainly memorable. If any of you are familiar with Asperger’s, every one of these characters is somewhere on the spectrum – with the possible exception of the heroine who’s just trying to hold it together and her younger brother who, while not an “aspie,” just doesn’t fit in. These peculiarities also make her characters endearing, real, and occasionally more than a tad bit annoying but in a good way. (Reminds me of a certain child of mine.)

The writing is tight and most of the storyline believable, or at least well within the range that “suspension of disbelief” covers. The era is Victorian, not something I’m deeply familiar with, but it felt believable. There was slightly more swearing than you’d find in a traditional romance from another era, but this may be indicative of the Victorians. They always seemed to have a bit of a dark streak, to me. The heroine’s habit of “swearing on water foul” is particularly ingenious, and I’m thinking of acquiring the habit myself!

I wasn’t sure where to put the heat level, precisely. There’s a great deal of chemistry between the hero and heroine, some kissing, but only one love scene fairly late in the book. If you’re looking for smutty (I wasn’t), this isn’t it. If you’re demanding chastity (I wasn’t), this isn’t that either. But if you’re in the mood for a romantic love story that leaves you sighing at the end, this one is just right.

I already have book 2, After the Wedding, queued up in my TBR pile.

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