Unlocked, by Courtney Milan

28 Feb

Format: Kindle Edition, 111 pages
Published: May 26, 2011
Publisher: Courtney Milan
Back cover blurb:
A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

My review:
This beautiful story about a girl who is picked on by the in-crowd could have been set in any time, because it resonates so truthfully today. Lady Elaine’s laugh is just a little too loud for genteel society, so she is the butt of jokes, mostly instigated by Evan, the Earl of Westfeld. But he has a secret: like many small boys, he teases her because he is in love with her. Sadly, his taunts and those of his friends traumatise her so much they break her spirit, and when he realises what he’s done he flees to Europe.

Ten years later he returns and sees she is just the same – withdrawn and the butt of his friends’ jokes but still as lovely as he remembers. He sets about righting his wrong, and while she is slow to forgive him, she eventually comes to return his feelings.

I loved this. It reminded me so much of Pride and Prejudice, when Darcy helps find Wickham even though he believes his chances with Elizabeth are gone. Evan’s inner monologue is hawt, and the scene where she finally comes to him had me swooning. I also enjoyed the sly little nod to the modern reader, when his friend Diana mistakenly refers to his mountaineering crampons as “tampons”. Nice touch.

The cover is pretty, and reflects a pivotal moment in the story, but I think the woman’s face is a little too severe-looking to be Elaine. Cropping her at the neck might have been better. Nevertheless, I’ll be hunting out the other books in the series now.

My rating: 5/5
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