The Duchess War (Brother's Sinister #1)

The Duchess War - Courtney Milan

An historical M/F where the woman isn't a meek little mouse and the man isn't an alphabrute and they're both sophisticated and evenly matched? What is this magic??? There was a point at around 80% where I thought the author was going into Big Misunderstanding territory to drum up (even more) drama, but like every other instance of "tired trope" that nearly came before that, Ms. Milan managed to sidestep it and let her adult characters be adults. Amazing, isn't it?

 

I really enjoyed Minnie's and Robert's interactions. They start out rivals, since he's spreading around seditious flyers that she's blamed for distributing, and they're each determined to keep their secrets. Robert, being a duke, isn't really in danger if his secret is let out, but Minnie's secrets and fears run deep and could really do serious damage to her.

 

Robert's maybe a little too perfect at times. Sure, he fumbles in his flirtations and machinations because he's a clueless duke for all that he's considered "woke" for his time period. He has no practical understanding or application of what it means to be working class or anything less than what he is. He may be progressive, but he can only see things through the eyes and privilege of a duke. I'd also expect a guy with his background to have at least a few hangups that manifest themselves negatively - he really should be the jealous type but he isn't, for instance - but I'm willing to overlook that since it worked thematically for the characters and their different but complementary issues and strengths. And I didn't have to put up with an alphabrute, which is always a win. 

 

I especially liked that there wasn't any insta-love. They like each other. They really, really like each other. But they don't confuse that with love and they have to work towards that like any other couple.

 

The supporting characters were all fully fleshed out, and there's even a subplot with Robert's mother that's quite well done. Lydia's a great bestie, and I'm going to assume she ends up with one of the Brother Sinisters - who are actually comprised of Robert, his half-brother and a cousin. Sebastian was an unholy terror and hilarious, and Oliver was as sweet as can be. 

 

I'm eager to read the rest of the series, and thankfully my library has them all. Yay! If they're as well-written as this one, they'll be fun and interesting reads.