Review: Talk Sweetly To Me by Courtney Milan

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Title: Talk Sweetly to Me
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre: romance, historical fiction
Series: The Brothers Sinister #4.5
Pages: 109
Published: August 19, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way. She's a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper's daughter who dreams of the stars. Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal. She'll take obscurity, thank you very much.
All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He's an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he's also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn't just a scandal waiting to happen. He's waiting to happen to her...and if she's not careful, she'll give in to certain ruination.

The heroine is a mathematical savant and the hero makes dad jokes. They fall in love watching astronomical anomalies. And it's an interracial love story that deals with race in a sensitive manner without uttering one food based adjective. I couldn't love this book any more if it came to life and brought me wine.

I wonder if Ms. Milan is deliberately writing stories that Harlequin would never dare publish, or if she left Harlequin because they wouldn't dare on her stories. Chicken and egg. I waxed rhapsodic about what makes the Brother’s Sinister heroines so special in my last review, so I won’t repeat myself. Rose is as strong as Serena, as smart as Violet, and as self-assured as Free, but with a wonderful vulnerability that the more socially-secure heroines don’t have.

Her partner is Stephen Shaughnessy, first introduced in the Suffragette Scandal as the outrageous male feminist who wrote the delightful “Actual Man” columns. He’s a bit older now, and is writing novels in addition to his columns, but he’s the same cheeky scamp. No wonder he has a roguish reputation, he’s the kind of character I go gaga for.

The story works fantastically well as a novella. There’s a good balance of gooey happy stuff and “we come from different worlds” tension that never drags with unnecessary miscommunication or contrived separations. If I had one quibble, I wish the book was “sweet”, (see what I did there?) because the one sex scene didn’t flow as well as the rest of the story.

My fangirling level has reached critical maximum. If I can’t convince you to read this book where the hero both says, “But beware - if I have to drawn another diagram, thing may become graphic” and, “You look at the sky and see not pretty lights, but a cosmos to be discovered,” and both of those are absolutely perfect in the context of their conversations, I don’t know what else to say. Buy, devour, love the Brothers Sinister.

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