Book Talk: After the Wedding by Courtney Milan

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: After the Wedding by Courtney MilanAfter the Wedding by Courtney Milan
Series: The Worth Saga #2
Published by Author on April 24, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 364
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

The only thing more inconvenient than Camilla's marriage at gunpoint is falling in love with her unwilling groom...

Adrian Hunter, the son of a duke's daughter and a black abolitionist, is determined to do whatever his family needs-even posing as a valet to gather information. But his mission spirals out of control when he's accused of dastardly intentions and is forced to marry a woman he's barely had time to flirt with.

Camilla Worth has always dreamed of getting married, but a marriage where a pistol substitutes for "I do" is not the relationship she hoped for. Her unwilling groom insists they need to seek an annulment, and she's not cruel enough to ruin a man's life just because she yearns for one person to care about her.

As Camilla and Adrian work to prove their marriage wasn't consensual, they become first allies, then friends. But the closer they grow, the more Camilla's heart aches. If they consummate the marriage, he'll be stuck with her forever. The only way to show that she cares is to make sure he can walk away for good…

Courtney Milan’s one of my favorite authors, even though I only read her for the first time last year. Her romances are daring, original, vibrant, bantery, and incredibly clever. She takes risks and doesn’t do what’s typical for the genre very often. That’s probably one of the benefits of her self-publishing, actually. Some of her books don’t work out as well, because that’s why risks are risks, but when they do, they’re sheer perfection. Bless her for books like After the Wedding.

Because I want any excuse to read Courtney Milan, I requested After the Wedding without having read the first book in the series yet. That’s probably not something a blogger should do, but what fun is life if you only do what you should, amirite?

I dispatched Once Upon a Marquess and Her Every Wish in no time. They’re not my favorite Milan, but they do highlight what I love so dearly about her as an author. They’re both massively quirky and about women pursuing careers above romance. Once Upon a Marquess is probably the quirkiest romance novel I’ve ever read, full of silly banter, ridiculous role play (and not of the sexual variety), and puns. It was at times puzzling, but it was never boring or cliched. Her Every Wish has an interracial romance, though I do wish we’d been along from when they first met, but it’s cute and another good example of what makes Milan such a powerful author.

In After the Wedding, everything came together into one of those books that I absolutely, thoroughly love. At the end of Once Upon a Marquess, lost sister Camilla appears at the door, married and in need of help. After the Wedding rewinds back to just before the wedding and plays events out to that moment and a bit beyond. I was a bit thrown for a loop by that initially, but it works really well because so little was known about Camilla’s whereabouts.

Camilla ends up wedded to Adrian Hunter, the half-black, legitimate son to a duke’s daughter and an abolitionist, after they are locked in a room together for unclear nefarious purposes. Adrian initially seems cold and hard, leaving his new bride behind and walking at speed away from her, but the story quickly comes out. In search for his uncle’s approval and acknowledgment of his family as relations, he reluctantly agreed to pose as a valet to suss out a rival Bishop’s ill deeds, only to end up married because of this ill-considered favor.

Adrian and Camilla end up working together to try to find a way out of the marriage and to figure out what the evil-doers were up to, even as they both begin to wish they could stay together. They’re both such pure and kind souls, and they have such a fantastic connection, one based in friendship and teamwork, not physicality, though they are obviously both attracted to one another. Due to the rules of forced marriages, they can only annul if they don’t tell anyone they are husband and wife and do not consummate their union. This lets the sexual tension build deliciously.

As usual, the whole cast is charming. Adrian’s grumpy and jaded brother Grayson, sarcastic and loving, immediately became one of my favorite people, and I sure hope there’s a romance for him too. Camilla’s siblings, Tessa and Benedict have POVs throughout, and they’re charming and accidentally effective thieves. Though usually this trading of POVs wouldn’t work in a romance novel, they’re so cute that it totally doesn’t feel like an annoying distraction from the actual romance in this case. And then there’s Grayson’s family’s pottery, which is this amazing diverse little Eden; I hope Milan sets some more books and novellas there because I love it so.

The plot’s strong, and I love the resolution. The ending isn’t full perfection, but it’s powerful and realistic. Adrian grows and learns to escape a toxic relationship. Camilla learns to value herself again and that she deserves love, a difficult lesson after her childhood. Milan doesn’t play things out the way most romance novelists would, and that’s why I love this book so damn much.

Give me more Worth Saga. ASAP. I NEED IT.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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