Trashy Read 2011 #8: Unlocked, by Courtney Milan
It sounds silly to say, but the historical romance writer Courtney Milan was the biggest reason I decided it was finally time to look into getting an e-reader. When her novella Unlocked came out in e-book form only a few months ago, it got great reviews. I had to get my hands on this book, and if getting an e-reader meant finally having a chance to read stuff I couldn't get in paper form, than so be it. I would get an e-reader.
So it's no surprise that Unlocked is one of the first books I bought for my Kindle (the fact that it only cost 99 cents helped as well). It's a short, simple little story, but I appreciated how sweet it was. I've mentioned before on this blog that I enjoy reading Nora Roberts because she always writes protagonists who are good people. They remind me of the kind of people I'm attracted to in real life. Unlocked works for the exact same reason. There's not much of anything in the way of plot going on in this novella, and the actual character development is pretty weak because of the length. But the hero and heroine are likable and you want good things for them, which goes a long way in my opinion.
Evan Carlton, the Earl of Westfield, returns home after years spent mountain climbing in the Alps. Before he left England, he was in love with a girl named Elaine Warren. Unfortunately, Elaine wasn't among the more popular members of the ton, so Evan found himself all too frequently making fun of her with his friends. He made her life miserable. So he comes back to make amends. Elaine is suspicious of him, but she attempts to befriend him eventually. Of course, she finds she loves him too. They get a pretty speedy happily ever after. I really liked the character of Elaine because she should have been a cliched wallflower but Milan never took her in that direction. Sure, she's easily embarrassed and wary of social events, but she's still smart and funny and enjoys life. She and Evan are so damn agreeable that you have to root for them. Also, Evan does something for Elaine and her family about half-way through the book that made my heart jump a little. I usually roll my eyes at the cheesy stuff in romance novels, but even I had to admit his act was incredibly sweet.
Overall, it's a nice if inconsequential little romance. Milan is a fairly new writer, and she's won a crazy amount of fans since her 2010 debut. I will most definitely be reading more of her in the future. She's not quite as witty or fun as Loretta Chase, but if she keeps doing a Nora Roberts and creating warm, inviting little romances, I'll be a fan for sure.