Mr. Milan reviews TRIAL BY DESIRE

Do you know the drill yet? Mr. Milan, a completely objective reviewer who just so happens to be my husband, reviews my books. I edit for length (that’s it). This review is the result.

Hi everyone. It’s Mr. Milan again. Usually I just review Courtney’s books, but as you will see this is half review, half investigative journalism. You will understand the necessity for this when I reach the end.

As you may know, my past reviews of my wife Courtney’s work have been, on the whole, negative. Not that I don’t love Courtney. I do. It’s just that as a book reviewer, I have to call them as I see them. With her past work, there just wasn’t enough of the things that I liked to warrant a positive review.

Let me remind everyone where I’m coming from: I’m an avid reader of fiction, just not the kind of fiction Courtney usually writes. My tastes tend toward fantasy, sci-fi, and spy novels. I’ve read everything China Mieville’s ever published, I have a whole shelf of Barry Eisler’s books, and I’ll even, if it isn’t too vapid and mopey, read the occasional work of literary fiction (a good recent example is Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel).

So, blessed (burdened?) with this background, I turned to Courtney’s new novel, Trial by Desire. I read it from cover to cover.

As a reviewer I try to keep an open mind, but you do sometimes judge an author by her previous books.  I had certain expectations when I came to this book. I am sure you can guess what those are by my previous reviews and that’s because you are judging me by those too. You are expecting me to say that this book sucked.

This book didn’t suck.

I checked the front and the book was still a couple sharing a torrid embrace. I checked the name and it was still Courtney Milan. A less secure individual might next have checked his pants to see if his manhood was still intact.

You may be surprised by my less than wholly negative review. But you really shouldn’t be. Trial was full of good action scenes, and they were well-written. The hero, Ned Carhart, isn’t afraid to mix it up, and Courtney, to her credit, isn’t afraid to write about it. Ned confronts rampaging horses, makes witty comments while held at gunpoint, and punches out the villain several times. He’s actually a great hero. I can see why the heroine would admire him.

Especially because the heroine’s not bad herself. Kathleen Carhart commands respect, because she’s willing to stand up for what she thinks is right. And she’s willing to risk more than just social humiliation or financial disappointment in order to win the man she loves. She’s a lot like Ned–she’ll face real danger if she has to, and that’s cool.

This book had more action in it than William Gibson’s latest book, Zero History. All of this made me wonder: what happened? How did someone who wrote the Sherman-Tank-deprived Proof by Seduction come up with a book that I enjoyed? This is where the investigative journalism part comes in.

Romance novels are often unfairly maligned for adhering to predictable formulae, the most common being the happy ending with the protagonists together in everlasting love. For me, that’s not a problem. Many other kinds of genre fiction are just as predictable — when was the last time the sleuth in a genre mystery failed to solve the crime? Following a convention that defines the genre isn’t cause for complaint.

Besides nobody knows more than me how hard Courtney works. I heard her swearing up a storm over this book. It wasn’t easy for her to write. But I’m her husband, and I was around when she was working on this book. I have access to the notes that she keeps in boxes in the basement. And after reading the book and having that weird positive reaction, I just couldn’t help but get suspicious.

It’s not that Courtney used a formula to help her write this book. Before you read on, make sure you are sitting down and remove any small children from the vicinity because this might be disturbing.

Courtney actually used algebra.

I am writing this review at the kitchen table with a sheaf of papers spread in front of me filled with mathematical calculations that I am convinced are her deriving this book from first principles. I don’t know how she did it, but here is a snippet of proof–and remember I have reams and reams of paper containing items like this.

Courtney uses partition functions to derive Trial by Desire

I hope you are as shocked as I am by this undeniable proof that Courtney is blatantly writing her books to a formula. I do have to admit that it is a very complicated formula and that she used a lot of them. I feel equally confident that other romance writers don’t do this. Nonetheless it explains my initial positive reaction to this book.

My enjoyment of the book was dulled considerably by this discovery.

Three Sherman Tanks.

Sherman Tanksherman tankSherman Tank

It’s Courtney again. Thank you, Mr. Milan, for that…uh…very kind review filled with scurrilous lies.

30 thoughts on “Mr. Milan reviews TRIAL BY DESIRE

  1. Love the review!

    I think himself might be more inclined to read my books if there actually were Sherman Tanks in them. Or Churchills, or T-34s or King Tigers.

    But as my books are sadly lacking in tanks, armoured cars, or any kind of mobile artillery, he’s not all that interested.

  2. You are a wonderful wife to allow him to review your books. But boy was he clever in discovering your formula. Or maybe your the clever one in writing a formula. Lol. It sucks that that Trial won’t be available on Kindle until 10/1. Can’t wait to read it.

  3. Mr. Milan will be very relieved that I do not use an algebraic formula for my romance because I barely passed high school algebra. If anything, I act out my books using gumdrops. That way, I can eat the evidence of my duplicity.

  4. Portia: Strangely I have heard the same complaint. Can you believe it?

    Vi: Mr. Milan is a sneaky man. Perhaps that is why I love him so much.

    Zoe and Gwen: you are killing me.

  5. Please let Mr. Milan know that my books do not have Sherman Tanks, but there is a considerable amount of weaponry that has been researched and checked by Mr. Archer, who takes these things very seriously. I do have an iron warship in Scoundrel and it even fires its guns. Things even, you know, blow up.

  6. Excellent question, Sarah. Mr. Milan wants you all to know that he took my book down to the indie bookstore–the snooty one that doesn’t sell romance–and read it with its original cover. (He would say this for himself but he is out of town.)

  7. Hilarious! Mr. Harris pretty much feels the same about my books. He’s read one, and begged me not to make him read the others. Being a sweet wife, and understanding that the lack of explosions bothers him a great deal — while the ongoing angst makes him, well, angsty — I agreed.

    I’m interested in that formula though… 😉

  8. Mr. Milan appears to have a bit of writing talent of his own. Has he put pen to paper?

    As an aside, did I misunderstand the email that I received today? It said that there’s a new story on Jenny’s origins, but when I clicked on the link, it wasn’t there. The email said there are now 3 short stories and a longer one, but I only found the three. Is there another one on Jenny besides Madame Esmeralda’s predictions? I was hoping we’d find out a little more about the identity of Jenny’s parents. Thanks.

  9. Wow, your best review yet from Mr. Milan! What an honor. :) Just gave your math a whirl, and if you use a cosecant instead of a sine, you will actually wind up with a Beetle Bailey cartoon from 1977. Huh.

  10. Dang it, Kim. I forgot to edit that bit out of the newsletter. There is… a new story. That is not posted. Because it is not done. Because once again I have overestimated my ability to finish things.

  11. Clearly, I’ve been wasting my time with relying on simple geometry.

    Thanks so much, Mr. Milan for another wonderful review. You’ve made my day. Can’t wait to read the book. Any sightings in stores yet?

  12. Rachel, Mr. Milan incorrectly identified the stuff in question as algebra, when it obviously included geometry, trig, and differential equations.

    Like I said, I only edit for length.

  13. Mr. Milan has hit the nail on the head. Courtney, am stunned by your methods but cannot argue with incandescent results.

  14. I suppose we have to give Mr. Milan credit for continuing to read stories that he expects will be such dreck. :) Of course, we all know that it’s just in his head. He really adores your stories but is too ashamed to admit it.

  15. So excited to get my hands on this book! (Hopefully I will not have to pull out my old differential equations textbook to figure things out–haha!)

  16. Haha…loved Mr. Milan’s review. Glad to hear that Ned becomes kick-ass. I didn’t mesh too well with his character in Proof.

  17. Great review, but I agree with you. Hyperbolic functions are trigonometric functions. And those limits from 1 to n are clearly calculus.

    Still looking forward to reading “Trial by Desire” even without the Sherman tanks.

  18. cories5: I don’t consider series to be calculus. They’re mostly taught in calculus courses, because hey, Riemann sums is sort of the introduction to integrals.

    But you could just as easily teach them in trig.

    If you want to get really technical, the entire form of the equations is just plain-old statistical mechanics.

  19. Have been avoiding blog until I could download TRIAL, and now I see I was spiting myself. Not only a short story, but–glory!–a Mr Milan review!

    Having waited until today to see if TRIAL would show up at fictionwise (it didn’t) am off to finally download at Kindle. Thanks, Mr M….

  20. Only geometry, trig, and differential equations? I was sure I spotted a derivative… but it has been a long time since complex mathematics of any type. And I did mine in Afrikaans so maybe I am getting the names wrong.

    Still, I think many romance authors would love to get Mr Milan to review there books. Cause who wouldn’t want a Sherman tank rating for their very own?

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