Historical romance novels are my go-to escape reading. Whenever I'm stressed or burned out, they give me the pick-up I need. The reassurance that this story at least will end with Happily Ever After makes them a safe refuge in a world of books and TV shows that seem to relish killing off our favorite characters.
That said, the promise of a happy ending doesn't stop romance authors like Courtney Milan from exploring some of the darker parts of the human experience or confronting some of today's challenging issues through the lens of the past. While some of the romance I read is all fluff and happiness, the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan has a depth I really appreciate.
The series consists of 4 novels and 3 novellas, and while most of the stories stand well on their own, they do share characters and will be more rewarding if read in order. The series is set in the Victorian era, with the exception of the first novella, which is set 30 years earlier (a few years before Queen Victoria took the throne). That first novella, The Governess Affair, was one of only two books that I gave a 5-star rating to in 2014. I wish I'd realized then that it was the start of a larger series.
One warning: historical purists will find themselves annoyed by some of the author's choices, but Milan is very up front in her decisions to veer from historical fact. I don't want to spoil things too much here, but if you want to know which book to read for frank discussions of reproductive and sexual health, which books feature incredibly intelligent women who meet men who appreciate them for their intellectual accomplishments, or which book has the virgin hero, just ask in the comments!
The Governess Affair (novella)
The Duchess War
A Kiss for Midwinter (novella)
The Heiress Effect
The Countess Conspiracy
The Suffragette Scandal
Talk Sweetly to Me (novella)
~Sarah, Adult Services