The truth is simply this: you can find a better man than I. God knows you wouldn’t have to look very hard. But I don’t believe you can find one who loves you more.

Redonk Nutshell: Black and white hero has his world turned technicolor by a vibrant heroine

By all that’s holy…Courtney Milan is a stellar author.  She has such a knack for weaving complex characters into scenarios that are a lifelike mix of poignant emotion and humor. It’s more or less a guarantee that anything by Ms. Milan is going to be wonderful, her stories a journey we as the reader have no problem relating to.

Unraveled is no exception.  What a wonderful book.  I devoured it in a day.  It’s the 3rd and final in her Turner series, books chronicling the lives of three brothers.  Book one, Unveiled, didn’t really knock my socks off.  Book two, Unclaimed, did.  And book three, featuring the middle brother, Smite,  rocked my world.

How to explain Smite…hmm…he reminds me of that oddball kid in class that doesn’t always say much but when he does it’s straight to the point, typically veiled in dry sarcasm, and steeped in random intelligence; and whenever the teacher calls on him everyone in the class rolls their eyes because they know, they just know, they’re in for a bizarre show. For the record – I married the oddball of my class.  Just sayin’.

Anyhow, Smite is a man with serious emotional baggage, baggage stemmed from horrific mistreatment from a mentally unstable mother.  What makes Smite different from your typical damaged hero is that Smite has turned his handicap into a strength- he used his experience to motivate himself to keep others from his fate.  He is a magistrate, a judge that has garnered a moniker of “Lord Justice.”  He’s harsh but fair.  To Smite, there is very little wiggle room between black and white.  Once a decision is made it’s done and over with.  No looking back.

So when Miranda Darling stumbles into his court room (and life), he finds himself toeing a self-imposed line of restraint. Miranda accepts Smite for who and what he is and makes no efforts to “fix” him and his quirks.  In fact, she comes to understand him in a way few others ever have.  As a result, we get some serious fireworks from two simply fascinating characters:

“How like you, to be arrogant even when you’re vulnerable.”  

“I’m not vulnerable.”

“Yes, you are,” she contradicted, “you’re looking at me as if I’m supposed to…” 

 His eyes riveted on her lips, and she stopped speaking.  The heat in the room swirled  about him, sinking beneath his skin.  She blushed again.  He stood.  Two steps, and he was standing before her.  She tilted her head back to look him in the face. Her eyes were wide and luminous, and he leaned down to her. She smelled softly, subtly sweet – like mint leaves, dried for tea. 

 “What is it you’re supposed to do?” He asked.

“Kiss you.  Kiss you and make it better.”

 “No. ” His voice rang hoarse.  “I don’t want that.”

She drew back.

“I want you to kiss me and make it worse.”

Gah! I adored, ADORED, this book.  If I were on a desert island and could only have a certain amount of allotted books, this would be one of them.  I love Smite, his craziness and all.  And Miranda is simply perfect for him.  I’ll leave you with this:

“When you call me Miranda Darling, are you calling me Miranda Darling as my name, or are you saying Miranda, comma, darling?”

His hand slid down her hair.  “I don’t believe I can answer that question without endangering the sentimentality quota beyond all hope of repair.”

Which was, in its own way, an answer. A good answer. Miranda smiled, feeling suddenly giddy…

“Have it your way, then,” she said airly, “I’m profoundly grateful that your skills in bed are passable. I’ll enjoy spending your money, Smite.”

“You know I hate that name.”

I do. I figured I’d best call you by it, to make sure we didn’t risk your quota. Otherwise I might have to invent a pet name for you, and we should be finished with each other before the day even started.”

He leaned into her. His mouth brushed her in a kiss, startling in its sweetness.

“Ah. Miranda -no-comma-Darling,” he said, “I knew there was a reason I wanted you to fill my days with an absence of sentiment. Thank you.”

Unraveled by Courtney Milan, 12/9/11

Rating: A

Romance: 4/5                       Raunch: 3/5

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