Unveiled (Hqn)

Unveiled - Courtney Milan Who are you most loyal to? Do you trust them to return your loyalty? Who demands so much of your loyalty that you're willing to destroy someone else you love? Is there information which, on hearing, might cause you to remove your loyalty? It's not always that the romance genre tackles weighty subjects, wanting to give their readers an escape from realty rather than a philosophical treatise, but Courtney Milan managed the job very well. Ash Turner has exacted vengeance on his own relation, the Duke of Parford, replaying a years-ago moment of callousness, which lead to the death of Ash's sister, by revealing that the Duke as a bigamist, bastardizing his children and setting Ash in place as the heir. At the opening of the novel Ash is visiting Parford Manor while an Act of Legitimatization is on its way through Parliament. The Duke sons have decamped to London to win votes in the House of Lords, leaving the ailing Duke in the hands of their sister Margaret, who is masquerading as his hired nurse, the better to pass information on Ash to her brothers. Milan brings up some interesting philosophical ideas in various ways, the most interesting of which to me was the fate of the Duchess of Parford who allowed herself to waste away from the shame of finding out she was an adultress. It's an interesting human foible that a woman who had no knowledge of her husband's bigamy takes that label onto herself. As cruel as Society would be to such a woman, it's an interesting touch that she, as is sadly typical, took the label and by implication the guilt to heart In the course of the novel, with Ash's help, Margaret comes to appreciate her innate worth, becoming remarkably stronger in the course of the novel, but lest you think Milan lets feminists down by falling into the "rescued woman" trope, she provides a deliberate glimpse of that strength very early in the novel. I'm also pleased that Milan managed to write a dyslexic character without using the accurate but overused image of "letters dancing". Of course, my favourite character, despite all of this, must be Ash's younger brother, Mark, whose own novel, Unclaimed, I'm eager to read.