I had taken a break from romance for the past few months. I got bored of regency, victorian and even contemporary romance and thanks to George RR Martin, I happily inhabited the violent world of Westoras, fell in love with Jaimie Lannister and found out that it was dangerous to attend weddings in Game of Thrones. After completing the last book of the series, I was ready for some romance.Miss Milton Speaks her Mind came highly recommended by Likesbook.com, a review site that I have followed for years.
Miss Milton Speaks her Mind, is told from the perspective of Jane Milton, who considers herself as a perfect poor relation. With her parents dead, she ended up at the workhouse at a very early age, from where Lord Denby rescued her to bring her to his estate. Though Stover Hall is way better than the workhouse, she earns her keep by taking care of the household and cherishes a puppy love for Blair, Lord Denby’s son. She is heartbroken when Blair gets married to Lucinda. As fate would have it, Lucinda dies in a mail-coach accident barely weeks after she had given birth to their son, Andrew.
Jane brings up the child virtually single-handed and is horrified when questions about Andrew’s paternity and Lucinda’s lack of character start doing their rounds. The story begins at a point where Blair is dead after a grievous injury in the war and Lord Denby reeling from a depression, has taken to bed.
Jane tries her best to get Lord Denby interested in life by organizing a house party and inviting his fellow officers from former company. She tries to talk to the vicar about Andrew being bullied and teased as an illegitimate but to no avail. If this was not enough, Lord Denby’s sister and nephew are making her life, a living hell by countering all her efforts. They insist that Andrew be sent to Latin school despite the bullying and Jane is distraught for her ward.
This is where, the hero makes an entry. He is not a dashing debonair buck who rescues the heroine and makes everything fine. He is a mill owner who traces his ancestry back to a pig farm but he ‘smells of money’. Mr. Butterworth (I loved his name) is a smooth operator who tries to make Jane’s life as comfortable as possible. He also encourages her to speak her mind. He offers to tutor Andrew and invites them to spend the christmas with him and his family at his estate. A turning point in Jane’s life, this is when she realizes that she too deserves to be happy.
What I liked about this book was the chemistry that Jane and Mr. Butterworth share with each other. It is obvious that that they cherish the unspoken love between them but they leave it unexpressed for the better part of the novel. There is a sudden twist towards the end but the ending is quite satisfactory. Carla Kelly has a deft hand with her narrative and the pace does not slacken at any point. And it is been a long time since I came across a romance that didn’t require elaborate chapters on erotic couplings or tumbling in the bed.
Plus Points: Fantastic prose and language. Good plot and strong characterization of protagonists.
Minus Points: Jane’s monologues get a bit repetitive in some chapters
Verdict: A perfect romance read for the weekend