"A Heartwarming and Seductive Historical Romance"
Reviewed by RaMonda Horton
Posted January 5, 2011
UNVEILED is a historical romance full of brilliantly
crafted dialogue and explosively sensual and provocative
Ash Turner, the future Duke of Parford, is a hero to many; a
man capable of moving small mountains, turning dust to gold,
and converting non-believers into believers. But to Lady
Margaret, Ash is the enemy, a man who is bent on stealing
her fortune and destroying her family legacy. Lady Margaret
hopes to prevent this from happening by pretending to be a
nurse so that she can discover whatever secrets she can
about Ash to prevent him from destroying her family.
As Ash and Margaret set out to accomplish their goals for
protecting each of their families, they begin to learn more
about one another and become entrenched in a tug of war of
passion and desire that they cannot ignore. Secrets
unravel, family loyalties are set aside, and new love is
tested in Courtney Milan's UNVEILED.
Learn more about Unveiled
He was her bitterest enemyâŚ.
Ash Turner has waited a lifetime to seek revenge on the
man who ruined his family, and at last the time for
justice has arrived. At Parford Manor, he intends to take
his place as the rightful heir to the dukedom, and settle
an old score with the current duke once and for all. But
when he arrives, he finds himself drawn to a tempting
beauty who has the power to undo all his dreams of
And her dearest love
Lady Margaret knows she should despise the man whoâs
stolen her fortune and her fatherâs legacyâthe man sheâs
been ordered to spy on in the guise of a nurse. Yet the
more she learns about the new duke, the less she can
resist his smoldering appeal. Soon Margaret and Ash find
themselves torn between old loyaltiesâand the tantalizing
promise of passionâŚ.
ExcerptSomerset, August 1837
So this was how it felt to be a conquering hero.
Ash Turnerâonce plain Mr. Turner; now, so long as fate
stayed Parliamentâs hand, the future Duke of Parfordâsat
back on his horse as he reached the crest of the hill.
The estate he would inherit was laid out in the valley
before him. Stone walls and green hedges hugged the curves
of the limestone hill where his horse stood, breaking the
brilliant apple-green growth of high summer into gentle,
rolling squares of patchwork. A small cottage stood to the
side of the road. He could hear the hushed whispers of the
farm children, who had crept out to gawk at him as he
Over the past few months, heâd become accustomed to being
Behind him, his younger brotherâs steed stamped and came
to a halt. From this high vantage point, they could see
Parford Manorâan impressive four-story, five-winged
affair, its brilliant windows glittering in the sunlight.
Undoubtedly, someone had set a servant to watch for his
arrival. In a few moments, the staff would spill out onto
the front steps, arranging themselves in careful lines,
ready to greet the man who would be their master.
The man whoâd stolen a dukedom.
A smile played over Ashâs face. Once he inherited, nobody
would gainsay him.
âYou donât have to do this.â The words came from behind
Nobody, that was, except his little brother.
Ash turned in the saddle. Mark was facing forward, looking
at the manor below with an abstracted expression. That
detached focus made him look simultaneously old, as if he
deserved an elderâs beard to go with that inexplicable
wisdom, and yet still unaccountably boyish.
âItâs not right.â Markâs voice was barely audible above
the wind that whipped at Ashâs collar.
Mark was seven years younger than Ash, which made him by
most estimations firmly an adult. But despite all that
Mark had experienced, he had somehow managed to retain an
aura of almost painful purity. He was the opposite of Ashâ
blond, where Ashâs hair was dark; slim, where Ashâs
shoulders had broadened with years of labor. But most of
all, Mark seemed profoundly, sacredly innocent, where Ash
felt tired and profane. Perhaps that was why the last
thing Ash wanted to do in his moment of victory was to
hash through the ethics.
Ash shook his head. âYou asked me to find you a quiet
country home for these last weeks of summer, so you might
work in peace.â He spread his arms, palms up. âWell. Here
Down in the valley, the first ranks of servants had begun
to gather, jockeying for position on the wide steps
leading up to the massive front doors.
Mark shrugged, as if this evidence of prosperity meant
nothing to him. âA house back in Shepton Mallet would have
A tight knot formed in Ashâs stomach. âYouâre not going
back to Shepton Mallet. Youâre never going back there. Do
you suppose I would simply kick you from a carriage at
Market Cross and let you disappear for the summer?â
Mark finally broke his gaze from the tableau in front of
them and met Ashâs eyes. âEven by your extravagant
standards, Ash, you must admit this is a bit much.â
âYou donât think I would make a good duke? Or you donât
approve of the method I used to inveigle a summerâs
invitation to the ducal manor?â
Mark simply shook his head. âI donât need this. We donât
And therein lay Ashâs problem. He wanted to make up for
every last bit of his brothersâ childhood deprivation. He
wanted to repay every skipped meal with twelve-course
dinners, gift a thousand pairs of gloves in exchange for
every shoeless winter. Heâd risked his life, building a
fortune to ensure their happiness. Yet both his brothers
declared themselves satisfied with a few prosaic
Simplicities wouldnât make up for Ashâs failure. So maybe
he had overindulged when Mark finally asked him for a
âShepton Mallet would have been quiet,â Mark said, almost
âShepton Mallet is halfway to dead.â Ash clucked to his
horse. As he did so, the wind stopped. What heâd intended
as a faint sound of encouragement sounded overloud. The
horse started down the road towards the manor.
Mark kicked his mare into a trot and followed.
âYouâve never thought it through,â Ash tossed over his
shoulder. âWith Richard and Edmund Dalrymple no longer
able to inherit, youâre fourth in line for the dukedom.
There are a great many advantages to that. Opportunities
âIs that how youâre describing your actions, this past
year? âNo longer able to inherit?ââ
Ash ignored this sally. âYouâre young. Youâre handsome.
Iâm sure there are some lovely milkmaids in Somerset who
would be delighted to make the acquaintance of a man who
stands an armâs length from a dukedom.â
Mark stopped his horse a few yards before the gate to the
grounds. Ash felt a fillip of annoyance at the delay, but
he halted, too.
âSay it,â Mark said. âSay what you did to the Dalrymples.
Youâve spouted one euphemism after another ever since this
started. If you canât even bring yourself to speak the
words, you should never have done it.â
âChrist. Youâre acting as if I killed them.â
But Mark was looking at him, his blue eyes intense. In
this mood, with the sun glancing off all that blond hair,
Ash wouldnât have been surprised if his brother had pulled
a flaming sword from his saddlebag and proclaimed him
barred from Eden forever. âSay it,â Mark repeated.
And besides, his little brother so rarely asked anything
of him. Ash would have given Mark whatever he wanted, so
long as he justâŚwell, wanted.
âVery well.â He met his brotherâs eyes. âI brought the
evidence of the Duke of Parfordâs first marriage before
the ecclesiastical courts, and thus had his second
marriage declared void for bigamy. The children resulting
from that union were declared illegitimate and unable to
inherit. Which left the dukeâs long-hated fifth cousin,
twice removed, as the presumptive heir. That would be me.â
Ash started his horse again. âI didnât do anything to the
Dalrymples. I just told the truth of what their own father
had done all those years ago.â
And he wasnât about to apologize for it, either.
Mark snorted and started his horse again. âAnd you didnât
have to do that.â
But he had. Ash didnât believe in foretellings or
spiritual claptrap, but from time to time, he hadâŚ
premonitions, perhaps, although that word smacked of the
occult. A better phrase might have been that he possessed
a sheer animal instinct. As if the reactive beast buried
deep inside him could recognize truths that human
intelligence, dulled by years of education, could not.
When heâd found out about Parford, heâd known with a
blazing certainty: If I become Parford, I can finally
break my brothers free of the prison theyâve built for
With that burden weighing down one side of the scale, no
moral considerations could balance the other side to
equipoise. The disinherited Dalrymples meant nothing.
Besides, after what Richard and Edmund had done to his
brothers? Really. He shed no tears for their loss.
The servants had finished gathering, and as Ash trotted up
the drive, they held themselves at stiff attention. They
were too well-trained to gawk, too polite to let more than
a little rigidity infect their manner. Likely, they were
too accustomed to their wages to do more than grouse about
the upstart heir the courts had forced upon them.
Theyâd like him soon enough. Everyone always did.
âWho knows?â he said quietly. âMaybe one of these serving
girls will catch your eye. You can have any one youâd
Mark favored him with an amused look. âSatan,â he said,
shaking his head, âget thee behind me.â
Ashâs steed came to a stop and he dismounted slowly. The
manor looked smaller than Ash remembered, the stone of its
facade honey-gold, not bleak and imposing. It had shrunk
from the unassailable fortress that had loomed in Ashâs
head all these years. Now, it was just a house. A big
house, yes, but not the dark, menacing edifice heâd
brooded over in his memory.
The servants stood in painful, ordered rows. Ash glanced
There were probably more than a hundred retainers arrayed
before him, all dressed in gray. He felt as sober as they
appeared. Had there been the slightest danger of Mark
accepting his cavalier offer, Ash would never have made
it. These people were his dependents nowâor they would be,
once the current duke passed on. His duty. Their
prosperity would hang on his whim, as his had once hung on
Parfordâs. It was a weighty responsibility.
Iâm going to do better than that old bastard.
A vow, that, and one he meant every bit as much as the
last promise heâd sworn, looking up at this building.
He turned to greet the majordomo, who stepped forward. As
he did so, he saw her. She stood on the last row of steps,
a few inches apart from the rest of the servants. She held
her head high. The wind started up again, as if the entire
universe had been holding its breath up until this moment.
She was looking directly at him, and Ash felt a cavernous
hollow open deep in his chest.
Heâd never seen the woman before in his life. He couldnât
have; he would have remembered the feel of her, the sheer
rightness of it. She was pretty, even with that dark hair
pulled into a severe knot and pinioned beneath a white
lace cap. But it wasnât her looks that caught his
attention. Ash had seen enough beautiful women in his
time. Maybe it was her eyes, narrowed and steely, fixed on
him as if he were the source of all that was wrong in the
world. Maybe it was the set of her chin, so unyielding, so
fiercely determined, when every face around hers mirrored
uncertainty. Whatever it was, something about her
resonated deep within him.
It reminded him of the cacophony of an orchestra as it
tuned its instruments: dissonance, suddenly resolving into
harmony. It was the rumble, not of thunder, but its low,
rolling precursor, trembling on the horizon. It was all of
that. It was none of that. It was sheer animal instinct,
and it reached up and grabbed him by the throat. Her. Her.
Ash had never ignored his instincts beforeânot once. He
swallowed hard as the majordomo approached.
âOne thing,â he whispered to his brother. âThe woman in
the last rowâon the far right? Sheâs mine.â
Before his brother could do more than frown at him, before
Ash himself could swallow the lingering feeling of sparks
coursing through his veins, the majordomo was upon them,
bowing and introducing himself. Ash took a deep breath and
focused on the man.
âMr.âI mean, myââ The man paused, uncertain how to address
Ash. With the duke still alive, Ash, a mere distant
cousin, held no title. And yet he had come here as heir to
the dukedom, on the strictest orders from Chancery. Ash
could guess at the careful calculation in the majordomoâs
eyes: Should he risk offending the man who might well be
his next master? Or ought he adhere to the strict
formalities required by etiquette?
Ash tossed his reins to the groom who crept
forward. âPlain Mr. Turner will do. Thereâs no need to
worry about how you address me. I scarcely know what to
The man nodded and the taut muscles in his face
relaxed. âMr. Turner, shall I arrange a tour, or would you
and your brother care to take some refreshment first?â
Ashâs eyes wandered to the woman in the back row. She met
his gaze, her expression implacable, and a queer shiver
ran down his spine. It was not lust itself he felt, but
the premonition of desire, as if the wind that whipped
around his cravat were whispering in his ears. Her. Choose
âGood luck,â Mark muttered. âI donât believe she likes you
all that much.â
That much Ash had gleaned from the set of her jaw.
âNo refreshment,â Ash said aloud. âNo rest. I want to know
everything, and the sooner, the better. Iâll need to speak
with Parford as well. Iâd best start as I mean to go on.â
He glanced at the woman one last time, and then met his
brotherâs eyes. âAfter all, I do enjoy a challenge.â
What do you think about this review?
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!