I downloaded The Duchess War as a free book on the BookBub website. For those who don’t know (seriously, have you been living under a rock, you bookworms!), BookBub is a website that gives you both free Ebooks (depending on your location) and great deals on many known and some unknown bestsellers. Thanks to BookBub, my Kindle is now more than 200 books richer *_*
I started Duchess War on a whim and that whim led me to a marathon reading of the whole Brother Sinister series in 3 days. That’s 6 whole books in 3 days, barring work and sleep. Yes, I sneaked in reading at work. Sue me. (Not if you are my supervisor! Please I need the job to feed my addiction :P)
So, for this post, I am reviewing the whole series together. Each review will be short, but will have quotes and/or dialogues that I have loved from each book.
Are you ready to give up the next 20 odd minutes of your life? 😛
THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR (#0.5)
She will not give up…
Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.
He cannot give in…
Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…
This is a novella that starts the whole series going. It is the story of Serena Barton and Hugo Marshall. Serena has been compromised by the Duke Clermont and now asks for compensation. And the Duke not wanting to actually create problems with his rich wife (bastard!), gives the task to the Man of Affairs, Hugo Marshall, ergo known as the Wolf of Clemont.
“You’re the Wolf of Clemont, and I’m the woman you cannot drive away.”
Serena is a problem that Hugo needs to get rid of asap. He can’t have her prowling around, especially since he is so very close to his goal (What is his goal, you ask? Ah you will have to read the book for that :P)
Serena is a stubborn woman. After what happened to her, she doesn’t want compensation, but wants justice. She takes everything that Hugo throws at her, and trust me, there were times that even I wanted to bitch slap him. But she took, and boy did she give it back to him! I fell in love with their kind of relationship in a way that I have never loved any other historical fictional couple.
“What is a husband but the man who offers you support whan all the world turns you away?
What is a wife, but a partner who will see you through to your deepest wishes?”
This is a novella, but it doesn’t feel like it. It took a little time for Hugo to come around, but when he did, he was the most steadfast and loyal husband for Serena. This novella has everything that a full fledged novel needs. Perfect beginning for the rest of the series.
4.5 / 5 Stars
THE DUCHESS WAR (#1)
Sometimes love is an accident.
This time, it’s a strategy.
Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly–so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don’t get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.
But that is precisely what she gets.
Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he’s up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he’s determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…
Ah, see what happens when you start a book at a whim, especially a book that ends up introducing you 6 other books in the series? You loose sleep, forget to eat and best of all, neglect your work. Does this happen to anyone else as well? Please say yes. Please say yes. Please say yes. Please say I’m not the only one.
“My name is Wilhelmina Pursling, but you can call me Hell.”
This story is about the son of the Duke mentioned in The Governess Affair. Robert Blaisdell, is the current Duke of Clemont. Robert and Wilhelmina (so not her name, just FYI) meet when both of them want to hide from people during a party (soiree? I always get confused!). Of course Wilhemina doesn’t know he is the Duke and her plan to keep a low profile is burned to hell when she gets into a sarcastic conversation with him (I love it when that happens :D)
“Lucky you can plan and think and plot without pretense. That you can want openly, that you don’t have to stuff it all inside yourself to molder. Lucky you that you can lift your eyes to the sky without singeing your wings. Lucky you that you can consider the future without terror.”
Now Wilhelmina , Mina for short, is hiding a pretty big secret. Yes, it is not her name, but it’s not only her name it’s her whole past. She had to reinvent herself because her past is something that she believes is too scandalous for any nobility, let alone a Duke.
“Puns are the lowest form of humor.
Not when a Duke utters them”
Now, Robert is a little different kind of Duke. Ever since he realized that his half brother Oliver, (son of Serena Marshall from Governess Affair), he has completely changed his view point about Dukedom. He is starved for love and even though his brother, Oliver has accepted him, he still believes he has to atone for his father’s sins. And the way he atones for them, puts Mina in danger.
But their relationship is probably my favourite of all the couples in the sries. The sarcasm, the sassiness, and even the angst is perfect for the storyline. Plus, Robert is on the top of my list for Lord British Fictional Boyfriend 😉
4.5 / 5 Stars
A KISS FOR MIDWINTER (#1.5)
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. It all starts with a wager and a kiss…
We met Lydia in the Duchess War. She proved herself to be a true friend to Mina, when her own fiance was against her. While we saw a hint of “something” between Dr. Grantham and Lydia, but their relationship (if you can call it that!) was a little hostile and it’s only at the start of the book that you realize why.
“A friend had once told him that he was like bitter coffee – positively habit – forming, once one acquired a taste for the beverage, but off – putting on the first few sips.”
Now Jonas is a doctor with a goal in mind. He wants marriage not because he wants to find love, but he wants regular intercourse without the threat of contracting a disease (I like that. Practiclality at it’s best :P). He is another man that i fell in love with. He is adorable and steadfast in his loyalties.
“I am afraid. I’m afraid because I like you. Because I think back on our conversations and smile. I am afraid because when I see you, my hear beats faster, The truth terrifies me, and the truth, Jonas, is that I want you carnally.”
Now Lydia, on the other hand, went through some things that would have broken any strong woman but it only made her stronger. But unfortunately for her, the one time that defined her life, Jonas was present and she believes, mistakenly of course, that Jonas judges her for it.
“I only said I would stop talking to you,” he’d written, “I never said I would stop loving you.”
Again, this couple was a perfect match for each other. While Lydia needed to know that she would have a partner she can trust and support, Jonas needed her optimism in his life. They were better with each other.
4.5 / 5 Stars
THE HEIRESS EFFECT (#2)
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.
This was honestly my favorite book of the series. One of the major reasons *read below*
“I am not in the habit of telling people what happens in a book. Only brutes disclose what comes next.”
Jane Fairchild, is a woman who has made herself the laughing stalk of the ton. Why? Because if she doesn’t, she might get married and that would mean leaving her sister, who suffers from seizures at the mercy of their uncle.
Oliver Marshall, is the bastard child of a Duke. He believes that he needs to be accepted into the nobility, to affect the changes he believes are required. He believes he needs a quiet wife who will be the perfect accessory to make it happen.
And boom! Jane happens 😀
“I talk. I talk so much. as if my life depends on nothing but words filling the space. I talk and talk and talk and I can’t stop. Not even when I tell myself I must.”
Now, Jane is an intelligent, smart lady. But she has had to hide that smartness in lieu of being the butt of the joke for the society. Because we all know, how mean people can actually get. And Oliver, being the kindest is the worst of all. They become friends, fall in love, even knowing that they apparently can’t be together.
“He didn’t want to meet a woman, to discover that the breath he drew seemed to come from her lungs, and then realise that they couldn’t both breath at the same time.”
This book works well on so many levels. It teaches you that no matter how quirky or weird you are actually considered, people who matter wouldn’t give a rat’s furry ass about it. (True story. It took me a while, but I found these exact people :D). Also, the secondary story of Jane’s sister was pretty damn perfect. For the first time, an author has actually talked about the British regime over other countries and their actual discrimination of anyone different. Kudos to the author ❤
5 / 5 Stars
THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY (#3)
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.
Sadly, this was the least favourite book of mine in the whole series. I had loved Sebastian since the time he was introduced in The Duchess War and only tolerated Violet.
“Violet, you and I – we lie to each other as much as we lie to the rest of the world.”
Sebastian is the class clown. He is the one who makes everyone laugh, and that’s why no one realises that even he has feelings. The fact that no one takes him seriously, makes him the loneliest man I have met in this series. He is a brilliant man in his own right, yet because he has been in love with Violet all his life, he makes a sacrifice. Her scientif papers in his name, making him wither the most revered man in the scientific community or the most hated.
“You braved the wasteland of Violet Waterfield, the dangerous shark – infested waters of her most treacherous coasts. And you lived to tell the tale.”
Violet on the other hand, went through a brutal farce of a marriage and now has given up on even the idea of love. I did not like Violet. Yes, I could sympathize with her, but no I couldn’t empathize. She made a lot of asusmptions that were unfounded, and she would have known it if she had just talked about it. (Maybe that’s exactly what the author wanted?) But I really did not believe that she deserved Sebastian, not really. And when I can’t even feel that the couple was right together? Well. I think that’s all is needed to be said about this book.
3 / 5 Stars
THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL (#4)
An idealistic suffragette…
Miss Frederica “Free” Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women’s rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope…but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.
…a jaded scoundrel…
Edward Clark’s aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger. When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help. So what if he has to lie to her? She’s only a pawn to use in his revenge.
…and a scandal seven years in the making.
But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward. By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it’s too late. The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past…and once the woman he loves realizes how much he’s lied to her, he’ll lose her forever.
I first met Frederica, aka. Free, in the Heiress Effect and I knew, just knew that this would be a girl who takes tradition and kicks it in the ass and boy was I right.
“Someone will have to be The Girl Who Went. Why shouldn’t it be me? And don’t worry; I have no intention that getting a college degree will be the last of the of the dreadful things that I do. I’d rather be The Girl Who Did instead of The Girl Who Didn’t.“
“I worry about you. I’m afraid that you’re going to break your heart going up againt the world.” — “No, I’m going to break the world.”
– The Heiress Effect, Courtney Milan.
Free, now all grown up, runs a newspaper that is known for it’s outspoken views on woman’s rights. She is intelligent, resourceful and cheeky enough to employ a man to write a tongue in cheek advice column. But right now her newspaper is in danger, with someone who is doing their best to undermine her newspaper’s influence.
“Miss Marshall, are you blackmailing me with my attempt to blackmail you? Can I now threaten to go to the authorities and turn the convulated double blackmail plot into triple blackmail?”
This danger brings Edward Clark to her doorstep. Now Edward isn’t exactly who he says he is. But he does prove himself to be the champion of Free and her newspaper. He is sarcastic, yet loyal to a fault. He understands secrecy and while he may believe himself to be a bad person, he really is not!
“Pain is a black ink. Once it’s spilled on a man’s soul, it’ll never scrub out.”
I still have to say though, Edward was not the kind of man I would have chosen for Free. And maybe that is why they are perfect for one another.
4 / 5 Stars
TALK SWEETLY TO ME (#4.5)
Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way. She’s a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper’s daughter who dreams of the stars. Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal. She’ll take obscurity, thank you very much.
All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He’s an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he’s also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn’t just a scandal waiting to happen. He’s waiting to happen to her…and if she’s not careful, she’ll give in to certain ruination.
This is the book that made fall for Courtney Milan ❤
This is the first historical romance that has featured an interracial romance. I understand that there was a discrimination against dark skin during that period, but are you really telling me that no one ever fell in love that was forbidden? Give me a break!
“I’d rather fail at you than succeed at anyone else.”
Rose, is an intelligent black woman who is also a human calculator. She is also attracted to Stephen, but doesn’t want to do anything about it, because her being black and him being white, would be absolutely impossible.
“Why had he never realised how inadequate all analogies were for women in throes of utter fascination? She looked like a woman talking about astronomical parallax, and that made her brilliantly beautiful.”
We know Stephan as the the man behind the advice columnist in Free’s Newspaper. He is also the man who fell in love with Rose. He is the man who saw beyond the skin color and saw her for who she was. He saw her for an intelligent, brilliant woman who could do wonders, if given just the right chance.
4 / 5 Stars
If you have ever loved Historical Romances, just don’t dither, pick this series up. This series has everything, from homosexual undertones, to free thinking women, to plot twists that you would never see coming, this series was actually a perfect for a marathon read 😀