Posts Tagged ‘Brothers Sinister Series’

A Kiss for Midwinter

(Brothers Sinister #1.5)

 Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb (Amazon):

 Miss Lydia Charingford is always cheerful, and never more so than at Christmas time. But no matter how hard she smiles, she can’t forget the youthful mistake that could have ruined her reputation. Even though the worst of her indiscretion was kept secret, one other person knows the truth of those dark days: the sarcastic Doctor Jonas Grantham. She wants nothing to do with him…or the butterflies that take flight in her stomach every time he looks her way.

Jonas Grantham has a secret, too: He’s been in love with Lydia for more than a year. This winter, he’s determined to conquer her dislike and win her for his own. And he has a plan to do it.

If only his plans didn’t so often go awry…

A Kiss for Midwinter is a historical romance Christmas novella in the Brothers Sinister series.


First published December 2012


This was a sweet, clever little novella. So much packed into this heart wrenching, sensitively executed short story.

At the tender age of fifteen, Lydia Charingford is diagnosed as being pregnant by a narrow minded, unsympathetic doctor, who advises her parents to have her put away because she is ruined. In the company of this physician is a young man named Jonas Grantham, about to embark on his medical training and accompanying the elderly doctor to gain experience. Warned to keep his opinions to himself, Jonas feels unable to intervene in the treatment proposed, although he does not agree with the medication prescribed – a decision he forever regrets.

Six years later Jonas returns, now a fully qualified Doctor with some ground-breaking ideas. Young, enthusiastic, tactless, sarcastic and incapable of being anything other than direct and truthful, he is on the lookout for a wife. He draws up a list of eligible young women of which Lydia, whom he does not recognise, is No.11 on said ‘wife list’. Lydia is immediately aware that this tall, good looking young man was present at the moment of her disgrace, and this knowledge puts her on the defensive. She decides she does not like him and, even after Jonas is made aware (by Lydia herself) that it was she six years earlier, Lydia is convinced he thinks her easy and could not possibly be attracted to her.

This is the catalyst for Jonas to decide that no other woman will do and he embarks on a sixteen month pursuit of Lydia, during which, due to the directness of his speech and his inability to lie, she misunderstands every remark he makes to her. To his credit, Jonas will not be turned from his goal and doggedly carries on trying to win Lydia’s heart. As a physician, he recognises that she has not recovered and is really very badly affected by her ordeal six years ago. He patiently tries to help her but his methods and manner of speech do not however endear him to her.

In an era where disgrace of this kind would have, under normal circumstances, completely ruined a young woman, Courtney Milan has tackled a taboo subject in a brave and sensitive manner.  Lydia may have escaped wider censorship with the aid of her friend Minnie and her own caring and loving parents, but she is deeply troubled and hides it with a cheerful and happy disposition. Her own worst critic, she is resigned never to allow herself to find love and is afraid of the natural urges of her own body.

There are also warm and evocative scenes with Jonas and his own father, a self-made man who is desperately ill….real tear jerkers….hankies at the ready!

MY VERDICT: 5 well deserved stars for this wonderful little gem.




Brothers Sinister series (click on cover for more details):

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) by Courtney Milan The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1) by Courtney Milan A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) by Courtney Milan The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2) by Courtney Milan The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3) by Courtney Milan The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4) by Courtney Milan Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister, #4.5) by Courtney Milan


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(Brothers Sinister, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian, 1867)

Cover Blurb:

Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership…even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.


I’m fast running out of superlatives to describe Courtney Milan’s books. Every time I pick up one of her books, I’m swept away by her innovative stories, her fascinating characters, her brilliant writing and her ability to layer her stories with historical detail and thought-provoking social commentary. THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY has all this plus a poignant and deeply emotional love story.

This book is so intricately layered with complex relationships and flawed characters that I’ve found it difficult to write a review which would do it justice. I just hope this review conveys just how brilliant this book is.

I found Violet such a fascinating character. She has a brilliant scientific mind, but her father’s heartless rejection, and a marriage that left her both emotionally and physically broken have destroyed all sense of self-worth; she truly believes that she is selfish and unlovable. Violet has always been happy to follow her mother’s rigid rules. It means she can hide behind a veneer of proper behaviour while indulging in her forbidden passion – her research into genetics. Her greatest fear is that she will be exposed for what she truly is… “a selfish, pointless, lying coward”.

There were many times when my heart ached for Violet, none more so than when she believes that Sebastian is going to betray their secret by revealing the truth in front of everyone. Her fears of the repercussions are tangible.

The vast crowd seemed nothing but shadows around her. She could scarcely breathe. Filthy, she could hear people whispering. Reprobate. Her gorge rose. Violet would be ruined, and she would take her mother, her sister, her nieces and nephews with her.

I adore Sebastian. He is everything a hero should be…intelligent, charming, kind and funny. With his amiable disposition, he can put people at ease and genuinely wants to make everyone feel happy. Having lived a lie for so many years, he hates the person he is becoming and he is also desperate to prove to everyone, especially his dying brother that he’s more than just a “court jester”. This will mean hurting the women he loves and I could feel how much he hates himself for doing it.

Of all the people in the world, Violet was the closest to him, and that made her precious in ways he didn’t want to consider right now. She was his dearest friend, and he was about to rip her apart.

The relationship between Sebastian and Violet is so intelligently and sensitively written. What stands out is Sebastian’s unconditional love for Violet. He never pushes her beyond what’s she’s comfortable with but is always there for her. He sees Violet as no one else does.

He’d seen Violet focused on a subject before. When she was, she was vibrant and full of color.

When they finally make love, he understands her fears and puts her needs before his own.

There is a scene where Sebastian is describing the various types of rakes, as though they are types of plants, which is really funny. I also love the scene where Sebastian uses a unique way of telling Violet how he feels about her during a scientific presentation. Everyone is oblivious of the true meaning of his words except Violet.

…that was when Violet understood. He wasn’t talking about flowers, even if everyone else in the room thought he was. He was talking about her.

Watching Violet slowly regaining her true worth and claiming her work as her own, regardless of the consequences, is one of the highlights for me.

MY VERDICT: A beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story. Highly recommended.



Read February 2016

The Brothers Sinister series to date (click on cover for more details):

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) by Courtney Milan The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1) by Courtney Milan A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) by Courtney Milan The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2) by Courtney Milan The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3) by Courtney Milan The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4) by Courtney Milan Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister, #4.5) by Courtney Milan

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(Brothers Sinister, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.


I have nothing but praise for Courtney Milan’s books. Her stories are beautifully written, original and thought-provoking, her characters are compelling and her historical research is meticulous.

Jane is such a wonderful heroine with her selfless love for her sister and her overwhelming desire to protect Emily even when it means exposing herself to ridicule. I love her self-awareness. She knows how awful she is but uses it to her advantage. Beneath those garish dresses is a smart, determined woman. Talking of dresses, Ms Milan’s descriptions conjured up the most vivid images. I could just picture Jane in that ghastly creation with the yards of multi-coloured lace. The scene where she politely insults everyone is so funny.

She asked Whitting about his studies, and when he made a wry comment about preferring to concentrate his efforts on the study of liquids, she stared at him.
“How surprising.” Her eyes were very round. “I had not thought you to have the capacity of intellect to read physics!”

Sometimes the façade would slip to reveal a lonely woman with dreams and seeing this vulnerable side made me adore Jane even more.

I love Ms Milan’s analogy between the broken little cactus and Jane…

Can you save it?” Jane asked.
“It’s a cactus,” the other woman replied absently. “They grow in deserts. They’ve evolved to withstand sun and slicing sandstorms.” She sounded proud. “You can kill a cactus, but it takes a sustained effort—consistent overwatering and the like. This piece of vandalism?” She shrugged. “This is just an act of propagation.”

While still remaining true to herself, I love how Jane reshapes her life, channeling all her money and energies in something very close to her heart.

Oliver isn’t the perfect hero; he has flaws and that, to my mind, makes him far more interesting and all too human. In his determined pursuit of his political ambitions, he has lost sight of who he really is. Once radical and outspoken, along the way he has come to the realisation that the “that the only way forward was to keep quiet until he grew so tall they could no longer shove him down”. Now, although he doesn’t realise it, he has become a prisoner of his own silence and his journey to finding himself again isn’t an easy one; he stumbles and falls along the way but finally…

…with a great effort—with the effort of a man uprooting everything he had made of himself—Oliver put one foot outside into the warm May sunshine.

I knew that Jane and Oliver would reach their HEA but it is the journey they have to take and the obstacles they have to overcome that made the romance so satisfying. Ms Milan has a way of drawing you into the hearts and minds of her characters so that you experience every twist and turn of their journey. It’s one filled with tenderness, passion, heartbreak and humour and I’m sharing some of my favourite moments. They also provide a showcase for Ms Milan’s brilliant writing.

She felt a sense of pure awareness. A frisson. She felt a real live frisson just from looking into his eyes.


“I fear it may be contagious,” he continued. “It is setting all my preternatural urges on edge, whispering that the color must be catching. I feel an uncontrollable urge to run swiftly as far as I can in the other direction, lest my waistcoat fall prey next.”


He couldn’t change her past. He refused to let go of his future. That left only the present: the warmth of her kiss, that sweet taste of something that might have been…and the bitterness of a love that would not be.

It was as if their bodies held a conversation that whispered along every nerve ending. All thought vanished. What remained was pure light, engulfing her.


“I don’t need that quiet wife. I need you. Someone bold. Someone who won’t let me stand back from myself, and who will tell me in no uncertain terms when I’ve erred.”



Style: "N&P"

You are probably asking yourself what on earth is a pink (or should I say fuchsine) waistcoat doing in the middle of my review. Well, all I will tell you is that it relates to my favourite moment in the whole book.

There are other intriguing threads woven throughout the story. There is a sweet secondary romance between Jane’s sister, Emily and a young Indian barrister and we meet Free, Oliver’s youngest sister, a staunch advocate of women’s suffrage (The Suffragette Scandal). If you have read The Governess Affair or The Duchess War, you will remember Oliver’s cousin, Sebastian Malheur, a renowned scientist and his friend Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. I must confess that Sebastian’s outburst towards the end of the book certainly makes me want to read The Countess Conspiracy.

I had to leave Oliver’s elderly, acrophobic Aunt Freddy until last because her story is so moving. When the secret she has been keeping is revealed, it brought tears to my eyes.

If you are a lover of Epilogues like me, Ms Milan delivers a thoroughly heart-warming one and I loved the reference to the little collection of cactus.

My Verdict: I can only think of one word to describe this book – SUPERB!



Read August 2015

The Brothers Sinister series to date (click on cover for more details):
The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) by Courtney Milan The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1) by Courtney Milan A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) by Courtney Milan The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2) by Courtney Milan The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3) by Courtney Milan The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4) by Courtney Milan

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