My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Courtney Milan is the next superstar of historical romance, and this is her breakout book. Her first two books were innovative, intelligent, and deeply emotional and are also on my keeper shelf, but this book is something truly special. Milan offers a unique voice to the genre--deeply emotional writing that also stays true to deep POV with rich characterization and innovative plots. With the rise of the super-sexy historical, this book is a great middle ground with the intelligent plot and characters driving the plot, not contrived desire, but deeply satisfying love scenes that are the more potent because the characters truly earn each and every one. Ash and Margaret are so wonderfully portrayed that I truly felt immersed in their world. I don't want to give away spoilers, but there is a climatic scene where it would have been very easy to have Ash react one way for the sake of conflict and plot, the more conventional reaction if you will, and he doesn't--because that's not who he is. And that's really at the heart of this book--two people being exactly who they are and discovering who they are not and who they will be at the same time. An Absolute Must-Read, even for those who don't read much historicals. There's nary a season, simpering deb, or unrepentant rake in sight.