Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mad Hero Week: Trial by Desire

Mad Hero week continues with one of my favorite heroes, Ned from Courtney Milan's Trial by Desire. Ned stands out from other "Mad" heroes because he both knows that there's something "off" about him and actively fights against him. When we meet Ned in Milan's first book, Proof by Seduction, he already knows that he battles both lengthy dark moods and periods of impulsivity. In a world without modern pharmaceuticals, Ned turns to a fortune teller, in part because he is desperate to know that things will get better for him. By Trial by Desire, he's grabbed the reins of his own destiny and learned coping mechanisms for dealing with the two sides of his nature. Ned is different from other "mad" heroes in that he doesn't see his heroine as his salvation--instead, he sees her as temptation back into instability. His determination to master his demons is what makes him a great hero.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just can't recommend this rising star enough. Milan has such a gift for POV and banter that she's an excellent choice for those who don't typically read Regency/historical. What I love about both this book and Proof by Seduction (which is helpful to read first as Ned and Kate first appear in that book) is that there is Milan deftly avoids "magic wand syndrome" as she deals with complex characters and issues. Ned deals with serious depression which is almost unheard of for heroes in the entire romance genre, and especially so for regency heroes. It would be easy to cast Kate as the magical cure for his illness, but the reality and resolution are so much complex than that. And ultimately more satisfying. Also unique is the fact that Ned is afraid of his own desires--not because he's afraid of terrifying the typical virginal heroine, but because of what that means for him. Such a unique spin and so deftly handled. Milan reaches deep to wring every last drop of emotion from her characters ala Julia Quinn, which I just love.

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