A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.
Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…
Author: Courtney Milan
Series: Connected to Turners series, book 1.5
Genre: Historical Romance
Year of release: 2011, May 30
Source: Won it in a Twitter giveaway done by Jane (Dear Author)
It had been ten years since Evan Carlton, Earl of Westfeld, last entered a ballroom.
– Evan’s public apology to Elaine > moving and beautiful
UNLOCKED can quickly be summarized in: a house party, a remorseful man, a resilient woman with a steel spine, oblivious mother/parents and mean-spirited family members. Especially the last ones really got to me. I did not like Diana (Evan’s cousin) at all in UNVEILED and that didn’t change in this book, not even the attempt to redeem at the end her made me like her. This being said not even my dislike of Diana could ruin this story for me. I love, love, love how Courtney Milan creates magic with her characters.
UNLOCKED is an excellently written, character- and emotion-driven, story that shows how bullying and ridiculing people can destroy them unless they find the strength in themselves to overcome it. UNLOCKED is a perfect mix of characterization, emotion and romance and despite being a novella it had the feel of a well-rounded full-length novel. I’m in love with this series!
Cold gathered in her hands and a knot formed in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to turn on her heel and run. But she’d realized long ago that running was the worst thing she could do. Deer and rabbits ran, and the sight of their hindquarters usually only spurred the dogs to the hunt.
He had always had deceptively compelling eyes—dark and fathomless. She felt as if she might glimpse hidden secrets if only she peered into those depths. He looked as if he were about to reveal some extraordinary truth, one that would explain everything. An illusion, that. He was nothing more than a snake who could hold her spellbound in his gaze.
Elaine knew her laugh was awful: high-pitched and so loud that people turned to stare at her. When she laughed, she snorted in the most indelicate manner. Her laugh had been the cause of their torment all those years ago. And so when Elaine laughed without holding back, she sent them a message.
You cannot break me. You cannot hurt me. You cannot even make me notice you.
She had every reason to think ill of him. Yet, for all that, some errant corner of his mind paid avid attention to the pale pink ribbon threaded through the neckline of her gown. He couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he were to pull on it. Would the gown stay up, or…
God. Ten minutes in her company and he was fantasizing about her breasts again.
“I think,” he said to her on this evening, his voice barely audible over the roar of the crowd at the soirée, “that your seamstress needs a new palette.”
A year ago she’d have bristled, hearing an implied insult. Today she smiled at him indulgently. “Why ever is that? Just because I happen to like pink doesn’t mean you must wear it.”
“That wasn’t why.” He grinned. “Although I’ll have you know that I turn out very nicely in pink. And purple. Any man can don white and black. It takes a truly masculine fellow to manage lavender.”
He was talking about friendship, but the way he looked at her… She would crackle like fire if he touched her.
“I’ll be your friend in daylight. I’ll treat you as a comrade in every gas-lit ballroom. But alone, under moonlight, I’ll not pretend that I want you for anything but mine.” (Evan)