Smite Turner is renowned for his single-minded devotion to his duty as a magistrate. But behind his relentless focus lies not only a determination to do what is right, but the haunting secrets of his past—secrets that he is determined to hide, even if it means keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Until the day an irresistible woman shows up as a witness in his courtroom…
Miranda Darling isn’t in trouble…yet. But she’s close enough that when Turner threatens her with imprisonment if she puts one foot wrong, she knows she should run in the other direction. And yet no matter how forbidding the man seems on the outside, she can’t bring herself to leave. Instead, when he tries to push her away, she pushes right back—straight through his famous self-control, and into the heart of the passion that he has long hidden away…
Author: Courtney Milan
Series: The Turners, book 3
Genre: Historical Romance
Year of release: 2011, December 9
Source: Bought via Smashwords
First line: “Well, Billy Croggins, why are you here again?”
The petty sessions had already started when Miranda Darling slipped into the dingy hearing room.
– Smite and Miranda having a meal after the gaol experience > the start of the inevitable and that kiss, OMG that first kiss was magical
– the conversation about doing ot against a wall > awesome!
– the scene at the opera > another OMG-that-was-hot moment
– the conversation between Smite and Ash > I couldn’t hold back the tears
– Smite’s proposal > I melted
Miranda Darling is seamstress and wig-maker. She’s defiant, tough, impulsive and a survivor. I loved her tenacity, her street smarts and her resilience. I also want to thank the author for not making her TSTL and trying to solve the blackmailing problem in secret and on her own.
Smite Turner is a magistrate dubbed Lord Justice. He’s astute, sharp, righteous, intense and harsh. He’s a man of many complex layers and enough emotional baggage to cover an entire estate. As much as he claims not to be broken, he was, broken but clinging to his self-imposed detachment. I loved his dry wit and simple outlook on matters. I might have fallen hard for this outwardly rigid, cool man because of the kind, compassionate and passionate man hiding on the inside.
Both Miranda and Smite are vulnerable yet hiding it from the world with boldness and rigidness. But they inadvertently bring out the vulnerability in each other. I adored and enjoyed how outspoken and direct they were to each other. The love scenes were exactly how love scenes are supposed to be: beautiful, sexy and filled with emotions. They are explicit and yet never crude or vulgar.
I loved a lot about this book, hence the perfect 10 rating but one of the elements that most impressed me was the premise and execution of the subtle yet relevant suspense plot. It fit the romance and worked splendidly with the rest of the story. And it wasn’t predictable at all (at least not to me)! With every page there was something new to entice me or surprise me. Revelations that, although suspected, still blew my mind because I loved the way Courtney Milan incorporated them in the story.
Courtney Milan is one of those authors whose books stealthily crept onto my shelves and just waited there patiently to be read and to knock me off my socks. She’s one of those authors that make me become repetitive in my inability to describe what their writing and characters to do me.
Humor, it gets to me every time and a sure way to get me to gush over a book. And let me tell you, Courtney Milan wields humor like a perfectly placed stroke of a brush. From witty laugh-out-loud humor to subtle make-me-snicker to just having me read with a serene smile on my face…UNRAVELED has it all.
From the very first word this book enthralled me. The opening scene at the petty sessions was awesome and hilarious. But it wasn’t just the opening. The characters, the ingenious yet non-intrusive plot, the romance and Milan’s writing all once again kept me mesmerized throughout the entire book. I tried to read it slowly as to savor it, because I just didn’t want it to end. I wanted to savor the emotions that captured my own and the back-stories that touched me deeply.
UNRAVELED is one of those books that slowly creeps up on you, charms and seduces you, then it rips your heart out and tears it to tiny little pieces, only to knit it back together to a perfect whole in the end, leaving you with that exhausted but sated feeling, only an extraordinary book can give you!
A half-smile crossed his face, and he took a step toward her. Up close, that grin looked like the self-satisfied expression of a shark closing in on a hapless fish.
Dalrymple let out a sigh. “This is not how I envisioned this conversation proceeding. I’m here in Bristol to talk with you, Turner. I owe you an apology.”
Smite had waited too many years to hear those words—almost two decades, now—for them to have any meaning. He turned away. “If you’re looking to kiss and be friends, Dalrymple, I suggest you start with your horse. I’m surely not interested.”
She raised her hand to give him an awkward wave. Her pulse beat, and an unexpected thrill ran through her at the sight of him. The sensation spilled through her body in little shocks, like a harpist strumming out an arpeggio against her ribs.
He cast a glance at her. Just a simple glance, but it reminded Miranda of a time she’d slipped in winter and slammed her palms on the ice to break her fall. Maybe he was cold, but sometimes ice burned.
“What is it you’re supposed to do?” he asked.
“Kiss you. Kiss you and make it better.”
“No.” His voice rang hoarse. “I don’t want that.”
She drew back.
“I want you to kiss me and make it worse.”
[...] As predicted, it made everything worse. Her kiss heightened the hunger for company that he’d long ignored. Her lips were slack in surprise at first, but then she came to life under him, kissing him back. That sparked a fierce, possessive desire. He wanted her. That want had the strength of years of loneliness behind it.
She moaned when he touched her nipple—not loud, but deep in her throat, a noise halfway to a purr that drove him mad. God, he wanted her. Wanted to wring more sounds from her, wanted to lose himself in her pleasure—and his own.
It was too early for sun, but her hair under her bonnet was as brilliant as a summer sunrise. She probably wasn’t pretty, at least not in the classical sense of pristine English beauty. Her mouth was too wide; her nose too snub. And there was that profusion of freckles that covered her nose.
Classical English beauty could go hang, for all Smite cared. His mouth dried.
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, Lord Justice, you do know how to woo a woman. Tell me more.”
“Precisely,” he agreed. “I’m not given to effusive sentiment. I’m not good at it, and you mustn’t expect it. It’s best we start as we mean to go on. I don’t need false protestations of love. I ask only for fidelity for the term of the arrangement and basic honesty.”
She drew back. He felt almost unsteady on his feet. He was drunk on the taste of her. He’d been knocked off balance, and he wouldn’t be able to walk a straight line for years.
“I’ve seen alleys enough near the Floating Harbour. I have some idea what can be done with a wall.” The thought sent desire spiraling through her. She was almost giddy with the feel of his hands on her.
But he simply shook his head. “If your point of reference is a glimpse you’ve caught of a business transaction conducted in an alley, I’d venture that you have no idea what I can do with a wall.”
Oh God. She almost wanted him to stop and show her. Instead she grinned up at him. “Are you boasting?”
He kicked open the door to the bedchamber. “I don’t boast. I merely state facts.”
It was dangerous to entrust him with anything besides the month he’d asked for. But then, her tastes ran to danger. Perhaps that was why she tossed her heart his way without a protest.
He should have stepped away. He should have remained still when her lips touched his. But he might never have this chance again. He might never hold her this close, might never sink his hands into her hair.
And so instead he kissed her back out of deep, dark desperation. He worshipped her mouth. And when her hands untucked his shirt, slid up underneath the linen to reveal his bare chest, he didn’t bother to restrain himself. He picked her up and tossed her onto the bed.
She reached out and touched his arm. “Smite, I have spent almost a full day in custody. I have not slept or eaten. I’m sore and scared and the only good thing that has happened to me in the last two days is that you called me your beloved. Don’t you dare take that away.”
“I was hoping I could avoid the bit in the proposal where I lay out all the advantages of the match to you. There aren’t nearly enough of them. The truth is simply this: you can find a better man than I. God knows you wouldn’t have to look very hard. But I don’t believe you can find one who loves you more.”
[...] “Love will never magically make me whole. It won’t heal old wounds. But when I’m around you, I do not feel as if I must be alone. I smile when you’re in the room and I laugh when you’re happy. I feel as if I’ve come home to you.” He slid his fingers up her arm, around her back. “There isn’t one part of me that you’ve flinched from. I don’t know why you’d marry me, but I know why I’m desperate for you. Nobody else on earth would bring me to myself as you have.”