Monday, May 14, 2018

Kat's Review: After the Wedding

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on May 31st for a chance to win an ecopy of your own!



After the Wedding by Courtney Milan
Publisher: Courtney Milan (April 24, 2018)
Series: The Worth Saga, 2
Genre: Historical Romance


Adrian Hunter has concealed his identity and posed as a servant to assist his powerful uncle. He’s on the verge of obtaining the information he needs when circumstances spiral out of his control. He’s caught alone with a woman he scarcely knows. When they’re discovered in this compromising circumstance, he’s forced to marry her at gunpoint. Luckily, his uncle should be able to obtain an annulment. All Adrian has to do is complete his mission…and not consummate the marriage, no matter how enticing the bride may be.

Lady Camilla Worth has never expected much out of life—not since her father was convicted of treason and she was passed from family to family. A marriage, no matter how unfortunate the circumstances under which it was contracted, should mean stability. It’s unfortunate that her groom doesn’t agree. But Camilla has made the best of worse circumstances. She is determined to make her marriage work. All she has to do is seduce her reluctant husband. 



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Kat's Review:



If you’ve read the first book in the Worth Saga, Once Upon a Marquess, you’ve probably been waiting forever to find out what’s been going on with Camilla, after she burst into her older sister Judith’s house with the declaration that she’s married, but needs an annulment. After the Wedding fills in a lot of the holes in Once Upon a Marquess, specifically, the Camilla-shaped ones. Courtney Milan has done a brilliant job of setting the stage for this series, by populating the first book with so many interesting characters, and undoubtedly more to come, as 7 books are planned.



Anyway, back to After the Wedding. Our heroine, Camilla, has been passed around for most of her life, going from the second daughter of a disgraced earl to “Half-Price Camilla,” working for practically no wages, and in her latest position, enduring the misogyny and paternalism of a gross rector who tries to shame her into repentance for the crime of being a person who sometimes acts on her sexual desires. Well, also a person who is a woman, which is definitely the biggest crime of all.



Into her life comes Adrian, a Black man trying to love his uncle, a bishop, into being less-racist enough to acknowledge that Adrian’s mother married a Black abolitionist and had several sons. So, Adrian is doing this one favor for his uncle, Bishop Denmore - that is, lowering himself to pose as a valet to rival Bishop Lassiter, in hopes of collecting evidence of Lassiter’s wrongdoing so that Denmore can have something over his fellow bishop and force him to step down - in the hopes that once he has finished, Denmore will finally publicly recognize Adrian as his nephew. You can probably guess how smoothly this goes.



Through a series of machinations, Camilla and Adrian are forced to marry (at gunpoint, no less), and the rest of the book details their sojourn to get unmarried, as Adrian (familiar with ecclesiastical law due to his time spent pretending to be a page for Uncle Denmore) knows that they can seek an annulment in an ecclesiastical court if they do not acknowledge their marriage and live as unmarried as possible.



And that, of course, goes all wrong. Camilla is self-aware to know that she craves love and attention, and above all someone who won’t leave her or send her away. She is desperate for it, and she discloses this to Adrian, who himself wants to only marry when he’s found a partner he can slowly fall in love with, a la his parents.



The plot is formulaic in the sense that all romance with a HEA is a formula: MCs are introduced, there is conflict, conflict is resolved, HEA ensues. But Milan’s stories are, as this one is, full of rich characters with their own motivations and their own backstories. We learn why a woman, who Camilla thought was her friend, betrayed her. We hear allusions regarding the relationship between Adrian’s uncles (which you can find out about more in The Pursuit of… which comes out on its own on June 26th, but is also part of the Hamilton’s Battalion trilogy). People in Milan’s stories are straight and queer, they’re white and people of color, rich and poor, disabled and able-bodied or neurotypical. Which is to say, they’re people, and in a Romancelandia that is continually needing to confront its privilege, her stories are always a privilege to read.



There are masturbation scenes (for both MCs), and there is a sex scene, but Milan’s descriptions are not overly graphic. There is, however, plenty of sexual tension, and fantasies, and desires. And it’s a pleasure to read about characters who are self-aware and honest in who they are and what they want.



After the Wedding is a wonderful follow-up to Once Upon a Marquess, though you don’t need to have read the first book (or the novella in between, Her Every Wish) to understand what’s happening in it. I actually found myself liking After the Wedding a little more than the previous books. I definitely look forward to hearing about Theresa, Benedict, and… other people (no spoilers!).



5 STARS! 


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Source: NetGalley eARC

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Thanks for the review, Kat! I enjoyed this one as well. You can never go wrong with Milan!



Enjoy!



Until Next Time,










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