Courtney’s Note: This review was written by Mr. Milan. Courtney edited it only for length. We all know that Mr. Milan has no bias towards Courtney. None.Â Admittedly, he is married to her, but a little thing like that would never lead him to soften his reviews.
Hello, I’m Mr. Milan. Yes, I’m a man, and as such, I don’t usually read romances.Â My tastes run more to fantasy and sci-fi with the occasional Elmore Leonard or James Ellroy novel just to keep things fresh.Â But Courtney asked me to write a brief review of her novella, “This Wicked Gift.”Â No one has to ask me twice to give my opinion about something.
I will not allow the fact that Courtney makes me dinner to bias my review of her story. I’m not afraid to call it like I see it.Â It’s like when Courtney attempts to play basketball.Â If she sinks a three-point shot, I’m eager to shout “you go, girl!” and pat her on the bu–uh, on the back.Â But if she fumbles the ball out of bounds because she bounced it off her own foot, despite the absence of any defensive pressure whatsoever, I’ll groan louder than anyone.Â (Delicate considerations of marital peace prevent me from saying which event happens more often when Courtney plays basketball.)
You can trust me to give you the straight scoop about her story.Â Which is that it sucked.
For one thing, there werenâ€™t any good fight scenes. Swordfights?Â None.Â Gunplay?Â Forget about it. Now, I like a good sex scene myself, don’t get me wrong.Â But I prefer it when the sex is the denouement to a bloody barbarian invasion, or when the hero and heroine get a little jiggy with each other after they’ve just killed a monster with a six-inch kitchen knife and their own teeth.
For another thing, I know Courtney went to great lengths to make everything about the story fit with the historical setting of London in December of 1822.Â The pences and shillings all add up, the way a lending library works is accurate, the neighborhoods are all realistic. But what was not realistic for any year in any city, was that a man would have sex with a woman and say anything other than, “Letâ€™s do that again.”Â When I told her this, she said something about “conflict” and “motivation.” I’m sure it would make sense to another woman.
There is some stuff to like about “This Wicked Gift.”Â I don’t know if all romances are this way, but the dialogue was okay. My favorite part of the entire story, in fact, was the part near the end where the hero and heroine finally get around to discussing what the “Q” stands for in “William Q. White.”Â It was something I’d been wondering about since the book started.Â Quincy?Â Quigley?Â Quintillian?
And I have to say, I like the name William Q. White.Â I may not be an expert, but don’t most romance authors give their heroes good metrosexual names like Adrian or Ethan or Derrick?Â “William Q. White” sounds like something out of a documentary about the foreign policy of the Truman administration.
Unfortunately, a little sex and a lot of wit donâ€™t make up for the lack of butcher knives or machine guns.
Bottom line: 2 out of 5 Sherman Tanks.
Um, thank you, Mr. Milan! I … appreciate that. Very much.