A few months ago, the fabulous Mel Jolly over at RuthorRX gave me some pointers on what to do with my back matter (the page with the links that comes after the book's epilogue). She said "If you ever want to see really good use of back matter, check out Courtney Milan's stuff."
Well, as much as I like Mel, I'm not likely to read a book based on the back matter. However, last week I came across a few free Courtney Milan books on Amazon (see link below), and I remembered Mel's recommendation,and I figured I'd give her a whirl.
It was possibly the best move (romance-reading-wise) that I've ever made.
I can't describe how awesome Courtney Milan's writing is, but I'm going to try.
First of all, her sex scenes are positively the best I've ever read. Is that what romance novelist want to be known for? Not sure, but these sex scenes are incredible. Incredibly realistic, I mean. Messy, and awkward, and oh-so-good. The kind of scene that has you shifting uncomfortably and looking around to see if anyone is watching you. Wow.
Sure, the sex scenes are awesome, but her books are filled with witty dialogue that actually made me chuckle out loud. Do you know how rare that is? I'm easy to please, but I figure I've read every combination of dialogue possible in a historical romance. But her characters are witty and realistic and make me laugh.
And not just their dialogue, either! Her characters are so danged detailed, so well-developed! Suddenly, everyone else's heroes and heroines are just a bit too one-dimensional, after reading what she does with her characters. And not just her characters, either! Her plots are detailed and realistic; the conflict stems from plot points, not silly "OMG why don't they just TALK to each other about this?" emotional conflict.
Here's the point: with only a few books, Courtney Milan has shown me what it's like to be a better author. I want to sit at her feet and cry "teach me!" But she's such a great author that I also feel insecure while reading her books, because I'm in awe of her talent. I'm going to have to take a break and go read something light and fluffy and familiar, before coming back to finish the rest of her Brothers Sinister series. In the meantime, here's a link to the novella that starts that series. It was free at the time of this writing (the next book is also free), so hopefully you can snag it and be blown away by her writing... and get totally sucked into the characters and worlds that she creates.
Brava, Ms. Milan. Your characters and plots--and sex scenes--are brilliant. I look forward to reading everything you've written.
Historical Romance is