Read Unlocked by Courtney Milan Online


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 wallA 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…...

Title : Unlocked
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781937248000
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 111 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Unlocked Reviews

  • UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish
    2019-02-16 13:57

    Because even wallflowers fight back…Bravo!This might be the best novella I’ve ever read. It was such an emotional story, one that had me in tears one minute and laughing the next. It’s a story filled with hurt and sadness, hope and happiness, forgiveness and love.Years earlier a callow, cruel Evan Carlton, Earl of Westfeld and his cousin, Diane, ruined a young woman’s debut into society, and pretty much turned Lady Elaine Warren into a pariah. She lost any hope of marrying well, and as if it weren’t enough, Diane continued the tormenting and teasing long after Evan fled England, unable to face Elaine and the pain he’d caused her. But now he's back, and determined to make things right!I wasn’t sure if I could forgive Evan for the devastation he’d caused Elaine all those years before, but Ms. Milan created such a powerful story with believably human and perfectly imperfect characters, that I couldn't help but fall in love with him and cheer for his and Elaine’s happily ever after. Note - Unlocked is book 1.5 of the Turner series, and a novella of 28,000 words, or about 111 pages. It's worth well more than the $.99 pricetag.

  •  Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
    2019-03-09 10:08

    Unlocked is a fantastic short novel about a man who faces his past, and earns the love, trust, and forgiveness of the one woman he always wanted but was afraid to go after honorably, to break out of the mode of society's expectations for him.I totally identified with Elaine. I was picked on incessantly growing up. No matter what I did, it was the focus of ridicule in school. I followed her plan of attack and withdrew into myself, pretending like it didn't matter. If you pretend like it doesn't matter, after a while, you can deal with it and keep your composure. The prey animal that runs gets chased by the predator. Ms. Milan was spot on with her psychology in this story. It felt therapeutic to me, that she could hit at the heart of such an issue that many of us experienced, and do it so well in the context of a love story. Although I could never imagine falling in love with one of my adolescent tormenters and settling into a HEA, she made it plausible, because she showed that Evan was just a man, a man who was too scared to be real and to be stand out from the crowd in a good way. I completely fell in love with Evan, for his honest desire and efforts to make amends and to be a better man. That took so much courage, more courage than climbing a mountain. Sometimes you have to go away to grow, and he did that, and came back to fulfill his destiny. And what a man he became. Also, Elaine showed courage. She was afraid to trust Evan, to believe he had changed. He proved that he had, and she took that leap of faith when it counted. And leapt right into his arms.Courtney Milan clearly puts a lot of thought and heart into her stories, and that's why they resonate with me. She writes about men and women who I want to see happy, to see fall in love. They aren't cardboard, samey characters. They feel distinct and real to me. I liked that Evan is somewhat awkward and afraid but works past his fear. I like that Elaine has been a social failure with a mother who is so brilliant she doesn't fit into society. She gets the passionate aspects right too. They belong there, very organic to the story's development, showing the bond between the characters, so that I hold my breath with expectation. For a die-hard historical romance novel lover, it's been a bit depressing to see an endless ocean of new books out there with few that actually move me that way romance used to. I'm glad that I have Courtney Milan's books to do that for me. It feels good to be excited about reading historical romance again. Short but sweet, Unlocked is a delightful treat for the historical romantic. I highly recommend it.Thanks for encouraging me to pull this off the pile, MrsJ!

  • Daniella
    2019-02-28 13:17

    I am a changed woman. I have seen the error of my ways. Why, oh, why did I ever criticize Courtney Milan's writing in A Kiss For Midwinter? Maybe I read it wrong. Maybe I had a momentary lapse in judgment. Maybe an alien from Mars who hated amazing writing took over my brain and spitefully wrote that review.Because there is no way in hell that Courtney Milan's writing could be anything but great. Wow. Unlocked was such an enjoyable read. My attention was captured from the first chapter to the last, so much so that I never stopped until I finished it. No bathroom breaks. No food breaks. Nothing. I just sat there, and read like my life depended on it. I can't even remember when I was so engrossed in a story like that. Recently, I've been having such bad luck at books that I randomly break out in song and/or dance the macarena when things get boring. But I never had this problem with Unlocked. Like I said, I was hooked. The pacing was just perfect. The hero and the heroine were amazing. And that says something, because I'm probably the biggest asshole-hater ever. You see, Evan used to be this jerk who picked on Elaine just to get her attention, causing her to be ostracized. To be fair, he never intended for things to spiral out of control, but yeah, he was still a big ol' motherfucker. So why did I call him amazing? Because he really redeemed himself. He groveled and pleaded and did whatever he could to gain Elaine's trust, and even a staunch asshole-hater like me was swayed. A herculean feat, I tell you. But what I loved the most was the fact that their transformation from enemies to lovers was done so naturally. Courtney Milan could have made it easier for her; she could have made Elaine fall for Evan early on in the book, (view spoiler)[when he kissed her (hide spoiler)], but she didn't. She really took pains building up the relationship, and I really appreciated that. I've read so many enemies to lovers books that failed, because the writers were too impatient to get the ball rolling. They didn't understand that this particular trope shouldn't be rushed, that redemption takes time. But Courtney Milan understood. And she delivered.Okay, I think I've fangirled enough. TL;DR: If you haven't read this yet, read it. Period.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Rane
    2019-03-01 13:27

    Not feeling the romance buzz of late, I've taken a break from all romance, only to be pulled back with this amazing short story by one author I know can write some amazing novels with beautifully deep characters.Ten years ago Lady Elaine Warren (BF of the heroine of Unveiled) was mocked and teased by Evan Carlton to the point that even ten years later she's sunned by society. Now a man, Evan returns to see the damage he's done to Elaine a wallflower and feel disgusted with himself, his cousin that kept the insults up and society as a whole. Wanting to make things right, he's surprised the girl he was secretly attached to is still that bright girl with that laugh out loud hidden underneath with sharp claws and able to take the hits and able to give as good as she gets, and perhaps a second chance at love and forgiveness.When it comes to short stories, I don't want just a sex marathon, I want them to pack and punch in the short pages and chapters. And Unlocked did just that with scenes that had me in tears with my heart in my throat and smiling through the tears.Elaine never understood why Evan was such a ass to her, but the effects of his bullying are long reached through the years he's been gone. Elaine isn't without her own shields and claws to defend her and her genius mother from the snide remarks that society throw at them. Finally set in her life, Elaine is shocked to have Evan walk back into her life asking to apologize for his actions. Not trusting him or his change of heart, she throws it back into his face, only to be surprised time and again by his actions. I think many of us have been in Elaine's shoes, myself included by being bullied and hurt by people for no other reason then just because. So I understood deeply where Elaine came from, and how like her grew stronger from it. Elaine showed a even great greater strength in forgiveness of those whom have hurt her and that's Evan and others. She showed that her heart was big enough and she was strong enough to put the past behind her and move toward a brighter future full of love.I didn't know how CM would pull off having a asshat and bully as a hero, but I really shouldn't have even had a seed of doubt in my mind, as this is CM and her works have proven she can pull it off and she does that ten-fold with Evan, whom has a boy didn't know how to show his be a grown up, and ran away from the guilt when he saw the damage he done to Elaine. Ten years of being a mountaineer has made a man out of the once spoiled boy. Now back, he's out to undo wrongs and set things right, but that proves to be harder then he thought and not all scars can be removed.Evan's reason behind the bullying were that of a young boy's, while still wrong, it showed how immature he was. Now a man, he can look back and see what a dumbass he was. I think many of us wish we could go back in time and fix the mistakes we made in the past as our younger selfs. Evan proves to everyone and the reader that he's truly has changed, to a heartbreaking and loving hero. Evan has his hands full, but with sheer will alone, goes out there and shows his love to Elaine and earn her trust. Him being the pebble in the water as it ripples out and changes the outlook of all those around and mostly his cousin, whom he still loves and we see the change in her that turns your heart over.The trust and love and most of all forgiveness between Evan and Elaine is showen with a beautiful love scene and later a surprise to show the true change of both characters. If you haven't picked up a Courtney Milan, pick this little gem up as it's worth it's weight in gold, and leave you wondering why you haven't read Milan earlier!

  • Laura the Highland Hussy
    2019-02-24 14:19

    review posted on Demon Lover's Books & More---SPOILER FREE---I first heard about this book on twitter. Jane Litte (yes, THE Jane, the one from Dear Author) was saying how wonderful it was. And as I hustled over to to buy it, Jane did the coolest thing ever-she bought 20 copies of the ebook and gifted it to the first 20 responders from twitter. I was lucky enough to be one of those 20. That being said, Courtney Milan is a new author to me. With the cruel actions of the hero, I honestly thought he'd be hard to like, but Courtney Milan made a believer out of me rather quickly. The hero, Evan, was a jerk to the heroine, Elaine, during her coming out. He was the typical little boy who pulled the pigtails of the pretty girl he liked. But with him being 19, and Elaine being 17, he was much crueler than just tugging her hair. By page 13 I had tears in my eyes for what had happened to Elaine. Lady Elaine is gorgeous. But, Elaine has a loud laugh. The kind of laugh that reminds me of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Loud, vivacious, and maybe even a snort. Evan began with the laugh. And it spiraled out of control from there. She was taunted and made fun of by everyone. Everyone. She gradually withdrew into herself. And ten years later, when Evan returns from mountaineering on the Continent, he tries to apologize. Watching him gain her trust, watching him teach her to hold her head high, watching her shed the wallflower label with the grace of a ballerina, it was beautiful.This novella will not be my last by her. I've already checked out her backlist and will be purchasing in a bit. Anyone who loves a good wallflower romance will love this one.Anyone who loves to see the hero humbled by love, will want to read this.Anyone who wants a book that runs the gamut of emotions, will enjoy this book.And anyone who loves romance will love this book.How can you not?

  • willaful
    2019-03-07 10:23

    I bought this with some trepidation, not having liked the previous Milan book I tried. However, I absolutely love her intelligent blog posts ( and commentary, and a dollar didn't seem much to spend to say thank you. I was so glad I took the small chance.This novella was special, partially because it has such an original plotline and partially because it's (reasonably) plausible historical fiction that speaks so strongly to concerns we have right now. I'm actually currently having an online conversation with people I went to junior high with that fits right in with the themes of bullying, remorse, trust and forgiveness explored here. It's also deeply emotional and touching as a romance. I loved it.(P.S. I just read this post by Milan about self-publishing, which makes me even happier that I shelled out the buck: Reread 11/7/11

  • Dina
    2019-03-18 10:12

    Review to come later... In the meantime, here's my favorite line in the book:"Over the years, everyone stumbles. That's why I'll be here for you — and you'll be there for me. I don't expect perfection. I want you, and you're a thousand times better."

  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
    2019-03-12 11:21

    *3.5 stars, rounded down for the narration*I listened to this book in audio format, and though I actually thought that the narrator did a nice job acting out the story, his voice was a real stumbling block for me. I looked up the age of the narrator, Simon Prebble, and he is in his mid 70s. He sounds like he is in his mid-70s. While most other reviewers love his narration of this story, I thought he sounded much too old for the MC, and his female voices were just ancient sounding. In terms of the story, I always love Courtney Milan, and I think she did a great job with this one. It's so hard to tell a complete story in novella format, and while I wish this was longer, I still enjoyed the story a great deal. I'm really obsessed with the Turner series, and I was so curious about Lady Elaine, so I felt deeply satisfied by reading about her HEA. I liked this one, so the 3.5 stars is a solid rating from me. With a different narrator, I think this would have easily been 4 stars.

  • ♡Karlyn P♡
    2019-03-17 14:03

    Wow, loved it. Thank you to everyone who recommended this gem. A great enemies-to-lovers historical novella. Some favorite quotes:(view spoiler)[>> Maybe that’s what I have been looking for. When storms and rockslides threaten, I am looking for someone who will hold on to me and not let go.”>> “I’ll be your friend in daylight. I’ll treat you as a comrade in every gas-lit ballroom. But alone, under moonlight, I’ll not pretend that I want you for anything but mine.”>> Reality was the illusion.>> “Over the years, everyone stumbles. That’s why I’ll be here for you—and you’ll be there for me. I don’t expect perfection. I want you, and you’re a thousand times better.” (hide spoiler)]

  • Mandi Schreiner
    2019-02-21 12:26

    Favorite Quote: “If I’m to list the things I want, I want to own your quiet possession,” he continued, “and drive the wariness from your eyes.”Do you remember when you were young and a kid would pick on you or tease you and your parents would say – oh, that’s just because deep down, he or she really likes you? This is Lady Elaine’s life – except she has to endure it as an adult, in the eyes of the ton. Elaine has quite a laugh – some say it sounds like a horse with a pig’s snort and they have nicknamed her Lady Equine. Evan Carlton, the Earl of Westfield pretty much knew he was in love with Elaine the first time he met her. But he was immature, and didn’t want anyone to know he was in love, so he made fun of her. He teased her and he made her feel small, and embarrassed. After awhile, his entire group of friends would turn and say hurtful things to Elaine, Evan felt bad. Really bad. He fled England to travel abroad. He became a mountaineer and learned the true value of friendship.Ten years later, he is back in England, and at a house party, in the presence of Elaine. Now he wants to make amends, but he has much ground to cover. A mere apology is not going to make all those hurtful years go away. The teasing is actually still occurring from many in the ton, and Evan can’t believe he was ever a part of it. So he decides to become friends with her. And it is a wonderful journey to read.Unlocked is a novella by Courtney Milan that is an amazing read. It affected me so much, I just want to read it over and over again. Elaine immediately cringes inward when she sees Evan at the party. She lives her life always planning how to stay out of everyone’s way. Wearing pale, muted dresses or she takes notice in the décor so it doesn’t look like she wants to dance. But once the teasing starts, she uses laugher as her defense.Her laugh had been the cause of their torment all those years ago. And so when Elaine laughed without holding back, she sent them a message.You cannot break me. You cannot hurt me. You cannot even made me notice you.But she does hurt. And she does break. I also find it very intriguing that her mother is a social outcast. Extremely intelligent in mathematics and science, she is slow in other parts of her life. She doesn’t get sarcasm. She thinks if people are laughing they are happy, not laughing at her. So not only is Elaine the butt of jokes, but her mother even more so. And Elaine gets embarrassed for her mother. And her mother is not there to understand the insults both of them receive. It is this constant circle that exhausts Elaine to no end.For as much pain as Evan has caused, there is still attraction. But when Evan starts to make amends, the trust is so slow to build. Elaine wants to be embraced, but in the back of her mind, she thinks he is just setting her up for ridicule in the next few minutes. I love how hard he has to work to get to a place where a romance can develop. This is a pretty short story and about halfway through we jump ahead nine months – which makes their basis for a friendship and eventual romance very believable.Unlocked show us such exquisite pain from both the hero and the heroine. It is a really beautiful story of acceptance, forgiveness and of course, love.(And it’s only $.99) Rating: A

  • Baba
    2019-03-06 17:03

    Full review now posted"I had hoped you wanted to say that," he whispered into her ear. "Now might I repeat it louder?" He took her mouth again. She tasted of cinnamon. She yielded in his arms as he drew her closer. His hands crept up her side, and found nothing but soft fabric and softer flesh underneath.Whispers…I'm a little bit disappointed. May I say it louder? I'm a little bit disappointed. Unlocked didn't captivate me.For such a short novella there were just too many characters involved. In hindsight I wanted more quality time for H/h. Sadly, I have to admit that the plot was a bit boring, too. I got it that Evan hurt Elaine. I really did. But. Her thoughts revolved around this one single issue. He hurt her. She was afraid of getting hurt again. She did not trust him. Over and over again. Again, it was mentioned numerous times how she's been hurt by many different people. With that said, at a certain point of the story it was just too much. It felt tedious. Needless to say that I didn't particularly like the heroine. The dialogue was ok, no more, no less. Well, when I'm reading a CM book, I want to be swept off my feet. Hence, when you get used to something exceptional, then it's difficult to take a step down to average land. It is what it is. Unlocked was pretty average and could not live up to my high expectations. I'm looking forward to reading Unveiled though, and I truly hope it'll be another outstanding read.On a personal noteI'm delighted that the author mentioned Switzerland and the Matterhorn. It's a beautiful Swiss mountain and pretty famous.

  • MelissaB
    2019-03-01 17:15

    Really good short story about a heroine who was bullied by the hero and his friends 10 years before. He just came back after the 10 year absence and is trying to apologize and make it up to her. Very nice story! Check it out, it's only 99 cents on Kindle and well worth the money, it was emotional and sweet!

  • Shawna
    2019-02-17 13:25

    5 stars – Historical Romance NovellaWow! All the rave reviews for this little gem are right. Unlocked is a wonderful novella that’s beautifully written, emotional, and sweet, and it made me cry, smile, and cheer. I loved it! 5 sigh-worthy stars!

  • Geri Reads
    2019-03-14 15:13

    4 solid stars!!This is my first Courtney Milan read, and I must say, she did not disappoint. Unlocked reminded me of Bully, albeit the HR version. I enjoyed Bully, so it was no surprise I enjoyed this one as well.Elaine Stockhurst had been the object of the ton's ridicule ever since she came out to society years ago. She was different, you see and attracts an unhealthy attention due to her laugh and her, ahem, generous bosoms. Elaine has long accepted her place in society by making herself as invisible as possible. But when her number one tormentor, Evan Westfield came back to town and started being nice to her, she immediately became suspicious. After all, he tormented her for years and basically made her a pariah.But Evan was a changed man. His travels around the world mellowed him and he regretted making Elaine's life hell and wanted to make up for it. You see, Evan, for a long time, has harbored deep feelings for Elaine but his plan to make her noticed him backfired and he ended up bullying her instead. So years after those humiliating first season, Evan was ready to make amends, but will Elaine ever trust him again? I highly recommend this little novella for those who have a hankering for a well-written historical romance book. It's sweet, short, with lovable main characters and interesting secondary characters. ♥

  • Sharon
    2019-03-14 16:13

    Here are some of my thoughts:• Elaine seemed so silly and superficial (but ultimately nice) in the previous book, and I’m glad to like her more here. • The romance is a conflicting one. Bullying is such a sensitive topic, and I can only imagine how hard it would be to both forgive and love someone who has bullied you before. However, I can recognize Evan’s maturity now and his shame at what he has done. So I do believe him redeemable.• Aw. Elaine’s relationship with her mother is really sweet and endearing. I love how protective she is of her mother and how genuinely innocent and optimist her mother is. Bravo to her when she is finally recognized for her intelligence. Overall, it’s nice. I definitely feel for Elaine, and the romance turns out to be rather sweet. 3 starsThings that you might want to know (WARNING: Spoilers below)Happy/satisfying ending? (view spoiler)[Yes. (hide spoiler)]Love triangle? Cheating? Angst level? Other things to note? (view spoiler)[No, no, low-medium.It has been noted by Evan that he has fallen in love with Elaine at first sight 10 years ago, but when he fucked it up and ran away, he was in Greece and “every woman he saw” reminded him of Elaine. I personally find that more weird and unappealing than romantic. Meanwhile, Elaine does not really have any romantic feelings for him until the present time, although she always recognized that he was attractice. (hide spoiler)]Tears-worthy? (view spoiler)[Got emotional, but not depressing. (hide spoiler)]Humor? (view spoiler)[Not really. (hide spoiler)]Favorite scenes? (view spoiler)[When Elaine’s mother is finally recognized for her intelligence. When Evan revealed to everyone how he felt and he apologized formally to Elaine. When Elaine came home and found her mother waiting up for her and comforting her for being sad, even after their fight. The very ending with the ball. (hide spoiler)]

  • PaigeBookdragon
    2019-02-17 15:16

    Maybe Courtney Milan is not just for me..

  • Pamela Shropshire
    2019-02-16 11:26

    Now THIS is how you write a story of redemption! Even though it was a novella, it had better character development and angst than many full length novels I've read.Years earlier, Evan, Lord Westfield, was attracted to Lady Elaine (best friend of Lady Margaret from book 1) but he behaved very, very immaturely and stupidly. He, along with his cousin, Lady Diana, hurt her deeply. Evan finally realized what he had done and didn't see how he could make it right, so he ran away. Now he's back in London for the season and he hates that Lady Elaine's spirit is almost completely crushed. Elaine hates Westfield and his cousin for what they did to her, but even more, for how Lady Diana has treated Elaine's mother. Lady Stockton is a badass mathematician and astronomer - I ADORE her - Lady Diana mocks her and Lady Stockton is unaware of the mockery. When Evan starts being nice to Elaine and her mother, she doesn't trust him for one minute. She knows that nothing he could ever do could make up for the pain he caused and she can never, ever, EVAH forgive him.I love how Evan responds. It's just the best thing. If you haven't read this book - or if you haven't read Courtney Milan, you need to rectify that immediately.

  • Elizabeth (Liz)
    2019-02-17 14:13

    I am, unfortunately, very much able to relate to the character of Elaine. People can be so vicious and cruel to anyone who doesn't look, sound, think, or act as they deem to be within the realm of popularity. It's a very real problem that resonates personally with me, as well as far too many others. And it's an especially relevant topic in today's world where so many young people have been hounded to the point where they take drastic measures. This short story addresses the topic seriously, and in a sensitive manner. There's too much to say on this topic, so I'll move to the story itself. Having had years and years of experiences similar to Elaine's, I could not fathom how the author was going to redeem the hero, Evan, in my eyes. It was going to take some serious doing, and how was that going to happen in a short story?! Well, Courtney Milan pulled it off. Through her writing I was able to feel the change and growth of Evan. I truly believed he could feel what he had put Elaine through, and that he experienced genuine sorrow and pain over it. Oh, if only that could happen in real life. And that is, I'm sorry to say, the only sticking point I had with this story. Normally, I'm easily able to dismiss some of the more far-out plot points in books and just enjoy the story. Maybe because this storyline is personal to me, I had a harder time managing that with this story. It just struck me as a bit naive and idealistic that Evan could evolve as he did. That's sad, I know. It could be simply because I've never experienced that in my own life. It *is* the ideal outcome. It *is* the way the world should work. Too often, though, we don't even come close. All in all, this was a very good story. It was very well written, and it obviously left me with a number of thoughts and feelings. That's always a good sign.

  • TJ
    2019-03-19 12:22

    This is one of the best novellas I have had the pleasure of reading - EVER! Usually I shy away from the shorts because they just can't seem to successfully carry an interesting and thorough plot while allowing for character development in such a short period . Not so with "Unlocked", in it Ms. Milan hit every single point dead on. The story is creative and unique (if there is such a thing in HR by now), the character development is pitch perfect. Starting with a wallflower who has been tortuously teased, shunned and made fun of at the hands of one man and his friends and that man who, after years away, returns to right the wrong he has committed against the young lady. It is both believable and emotional. The characters growth is beautifully written while not undermining the plot. All this in 111 pages! A M A Z I N G!*For those clean readers, there is one steamy scene near the end*

  • Jess the Romanceaholic
    2019-03-01 10:58

    This is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.Expected Release Date: Available Now!Publisher: ???Imprint: ???Author’s Website: Source for This Book: AllRomanceEbooks.comPart of a Series: Yes, Turner SeriesSeries Best Read In Order: Works well as a standaloneSteam Level: SteamyI think what I enjoyed most about this story is that it’s not just about a “wallflower” coming into her own, but also about forgiveness and finding out exactly who you are as a person as you mature.Recommended for fans of realistically sized (spinster) heroines, of heroes who know when to grovel, and of discovering just who you were really meant to be.A very solid 5/5 Stars.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-18 16:09

    One of the best novellas I have read. This is a truly heartbreakingly beautiful story of a woman who was ridiculed her first season out and how she has dealt with the aftermath. When the man who started the taunting returns ten years later to make amends, you get to see the ostrich bloom into a beautiful swan. She stands strong against temptation and will make you shed a few tears throughout the process. A truly excellent story of overcoming bullying that is truly beautifully written and worth way more that the $.99 price tag! Oh, and the cover is spot on for a pivotal moment in the story which I love!

  • Fani *loves angst*
    2019-02-22 14:24

    4.5 stars"Over the years everyone stumbles. That's why I'll be here for you-and you'll be there for me. I don't expect perfection. I want you, and you're a thousand times better."One of the best historicals I read lately. Pity it wasn't longer.

  • Janet
    2019-03-08 11:21

    10 years: that number really hit me in the face. Evan and Elaine met in 1830. That same year, Evan left England. He returned in 1838. When he meets Elaine again, at a ball in 1840, it’s been a decade since they’ve seen each other. Long separation … not a trope I love.Great opening: why is an earl who once “dominated society” feeling uneasy as he enters the ballroom with his cousin Diana? What had he done that made him hate himself? He spots Lady Equine (Lady Elaine Warren) even though she’s easy to overlook because of her colorless, anemic dress. Her hair is tightly pulled back and she’s not married. He met her at 17, she’s now 27. What he remembers from their first encounter -- her mature body, unlike other debutantes and her “long, loud, vital laugh”. He thought she held nothing back – that she planned to enjoy life.What happened: Evan gave her a damning, soul-destroying nickname (Lady Equine) and continued to tease her. She began “to slide her eyes over him”. “He had watched her draw in on herself until the vital stuff he’d lusted after had simply faded away.” So he ran away, ashamed. Found maturity in travels and becoming an accomplished mountaineer. Makes a different choice when he returns: he asks her to dance. His cousin assumes he’s going to bait her.What has Elaine done in 10 years? a) made a few good friends b) waited for society to find new targets of scorn c) finds places to hide in social situations she can’t avoid “This house party was mostly safe—she’d interrogated her mother closely as to the guest list. None of her closest friends had come, but her remaining tormenters were absent. Her mother had wanted to attend to pass the time while her father was off overseeing his estates.” Didn’t care for the mother/daughter relationship, as it was described, because wouldn’t a mother who was also a scientist be a tad more observant? Unless it’s the unobservant scientist trope and how accurate is that? Elaine’s closest friends: why wouldn’t they, during a 10 year time frame, persuade her to dress more attractively? I wondered why she was seemingly so passive about her future. “Unlike Elaine, her mother somehow failed to notice how little she was liked.” OK, get that, but why does she not realize her daughter isn’t liked? Why doesn’t Elaine talk to her mother? Bullying is serious stuff but perhaps it was the amount of time elapsing since the incident? Evan asks Elaine to dance: she doesn’t run: “realized long ago that running was the worst thing she could do”. Was it? Wasn’t continuing to show up the worst thing? Wondering. Is all her self-esteem bound up in the validation of one cruel man? “She hated that he made her think that the impossible might be attainable.” She feels exposed, humiliated. They trade insults. He’s happy she’s showing some gumption. She shows admirable poise when he tries to apologize. Liked that sense of spine.Dangerous shoals – Elaine’s mother is being set up for embarrassment. She admits her mother not attentive but my goodness, 11 seasons and no husband? Is that realistic for the time? Moving along, Evan is making amends and warning off his cousin. The explanation for past cruelty by the cousins: their mutual teasing was for mutual protection. Diana realizes her cousin is being chivalric. After dinner Evan talks about climbing, Diana defends the numbers of years he’s been away preparing to climb Mont Blanc. Play on words dragged me out of story … Diana says “…not only rope to consider, but the boots, and the, uh, the special packs, and also the tampons.” “Crampons,” Evan supplied. Were tampons a word in 1840? Was this intended as a wink for the reader? It took me into mistorical* territory: the word tampon was first used in 1848. N.B. The author explained to me offline that the word tampon was used correctly. I've changed my grade because I, the reader, made a mistake about a word (and it threw me off). There are lots of words like that, I suspect, like "shag". In any case, my mistake: my research was too superficial.Diana deliberately spills wine on Elaine and Evan privately, but not publicly, calls her on her action. There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of amends and thoughtfulness and anger and change. Interesting. Elaine explodes at him, she cries, she confronts, she’s honest with Evan. She enters his room, she ties him up (at his invitation) – really? How does she know how to do such a good knot, with a name even? But what I liked, that she left him tied up. She’s done with being the butt of his jokes and she acknowledges he always watched her bosom and at last, asks herself, why did she worry? FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. She’s busting through her myths.I like, “… she’d felt full-blown want”. The danger, that he would make her feel safe, make her believe. Finally, her mother offers to leave and self-sacrificial Elaine refuses the offer. Mother speaks, Evan polite, Diana rude, Evan abases himself in front of everyone and tells the story of how, as a 19 year-old, he was cruel to a young girl. One of the parts of the book I liked, his honesty, that he didn’t make excuses: he owns his behaviour. That’s why he started mountaineering, “because I was too cowardly to come home, apologize, and try to make things right.”He learns the truth – how she inhaled water into her lungs trying to stop the way she laughed. The torment she endured. She didn’t want to be herself. She offers him friendship. Lovely to read, that she extends hand of friendship. After a wonderful kiss (and Milan, such a good writer, makes you feel all the different elements of it), it's all friendship, all the time.Nine months later. He rehabilitates her (that annoys me, somewhat). Her success in society "happens" to her. Was no one else in society able to help? What I like: that love takes time; trust takes time; that she needs to stand on her own, to regain her power. But how, by walking into a room wearing dark blue or vibrant red? Is this a cliché or a powerful metaphor? Liked again how a bad situation, her mother and Elaine’s “vulnerable heart” is reframed. I am unfortunately not surprised though, that it’s a man behind the scenes, pulling levers, calling in favours. A man does that for the woman he loves. Now the woman astronomer from Hanover connection … laying it on a bit but lovely to see mother appreciated. Niggling question: why was Elaine so ignorant of her mother’s scientific worth? But heroes need quests and Evan’s was to have the truth dawn on Elaine … that he is in love with her.Another evening. We’re on solid ground: she knows she’s loved, she’s not sure how exactly she feels but she cares, deeply. Love blooms. It’s interesting that he can see beyond them to the idea that he could love someone else, although he of course wants her. Very mature sentiment. With the passage of time he’s savagely unhappy: he doesn’t believe she’ll ever love him. But once she admits to herself she loves him, she acknowledges that she has the power to make him happy and she goes to him. My thoughts? Love will have a way – she’s been waiting long enough. Lovely dialogue – Milan does that so well. And how much satisfaction do we get when we read, “Confident. She was so confident. It was what he’d always hoped for from her—her trust, finally given over to him.” But wait, cousin Diana shows up: can this newly made proposal be saved? *Of course!* I like that Elaine now has responsibility for Evan’s happiness: she has the power to hurt him and she doesn't misuse it.Finally (and this is very good), Elaine acknowledges that she choose to duck her head underwater, to avoid, to continue to expect the worst. To retreat inside herself. She thinks, “It’s complicated.” I like that notion in a book. Definitely an enjoyable novella. The presentation is top notch, the price is a steal and many interesting issues are raised. The time frame troubled me as did the heroine’s rather anemic life until the hero reappeared on the scene. A few incidents took me out of the story: a word choice, a heroine who is accomplished at tying knots but I quibble. Milan sets a very high standard.* Giving credit where credit is due: Janet/Robin from Dear Author coined the mistorical tag.

  • Preeti ♥︎ (Romance She Reads)
    2019-03-04 15:21

    I have read book #1 in this series, which was an okay read and so I wasn’t so keen on the rest of the books. But I’m glad I stumbled on this one by chance. For the spectacular grovel if nothing else.A very angsty and intriguing premise – a heartless young man makes a laughing stock of a young deb who’s lovely looking but not in the conformed accepted way. Her social life becomes intolerable as she becomes the butt of everyone’s joke and the labels stick so much so that she rarely gets acknowledged by her real name.Ten years on, the man returns from an extended foreign trip – mature and much wiser. He tries to make amends only to be rebuffed by her. She’s lost her spontaneity long ago but her defenses are now more honed.He feels regret and shame on his role in making her the perpetual wallflower. But it’s more than that as the real reason behind his inexcusable behavior is revealed. Like that boy who pulls a girls pigtails at school. I know not everyone likes this particular analogy but his remorse is real and deep – and not so recent. He gets down to befriend and gently woo her and that’s the rest of the story. Although the gentleness and measured tone also made for a bit of a tepid reading thereon!I so love her gentle, befuddled but genius mother – an amateur astronomer. That’s a novel characterization! The h despairs of her mother’s obliviousness to the ton making fun of the mother-daughter duo and how how she couldn't see through her daughter’s brittle façade to the deep hurt inside, but the mother saw the one thing – the core thing - no one else was able to see!

  • Carol *Young at Heart Oldie*
    2019-03-18 13:10

    AMAZING - that’s the first word that came to mind after I’d finished reading Unlocked. Even within the constraints of the novella, Ms Milan‘s story is original, deeply emotional and profoundly moving. I have certainly never come across the theme of bullying in a historical romance before. I am sure that Ms Milan must have done a lot of research to convey with such realism not only the emotional effects of verbal abuse but also the motivations of the abuser as well.I loved Evan because Ms Milan made me truly believe that he had matured from the selfish swine who thought nothing of ruining a girl’s prospects simply because it would make him popular and make others laugh into a man who showed genuine remorse for his actions. He proved over and over again through both his words and his actions that he would do anything to win Elaine’s trust, friendship and ultimately her love.He would have ridden to hell and back for the look on Elaine’s face – that brilliant, incandescent happiness, one that could not be smothered.He felt the joy so keenly it almost hurt.I found it was so easy to relate to Elaine and feel how much she was hurt and humiliated by the constant cruel barbs. I so admired her courage in facing her tormentors with defiance and how fiercely she protected her mother. Sometimes Elaine’s strength fails her and the tears flow but it only makes her more human. I sighed at that wonderful scene when she finally comes into her own.This was who she could be. For years she’d had one purpose at gatherings like this: to make everyone look away from her.Tonight she wanted them to look at herI loved this novella so much that I immediately purchased all the other books in this series!VERDICT: SIMPLY WONDERFULRATING: ★★★★★

  • Rie_dominique
    2019-03-03 10:16

    satu lagi cerita mengenai wallflower. tapi wallflower yang satu ini tidak hanya duduk dipinggir ruangan dan membaur dengan dinding.wallflower yang satu ini, Lady Elaine Warren, aktif dicari oleh semua orang untuk dipermalukan dan diejek sebagai hiburan para bangsawan. dan yang paling aktif mempermalukannya adalah Evan Carlton, earl of Wesfeld.earl muda yang dandy dan banyak diikuti ini sebenarnya naksir ama elaine tapi ga pengen orang lain tau. kalu hanya bicara berdua dengan elaine dia bisa ngomong baik2, tapi kalu udah liat ada orang yang memperhatikan dia bicara dengan elaine langsung deh sindiran dan ejekannya keluar.hebatnya, karakter lady elaine pun bukan karakter cewek cengeng. setiap sindiran dan ejekan dihadapinya dengan tertawa, seolah semua itu tidak melukai hatinya.Evan yang kemudian malu dengan dirinya sendiri ini memutuskan untuk meninggalkan Inggris dan menjelajahi pegunungan di eropa. mountainer istilahnya..setelah 1 decade berlalu evan balik ke inggris dan mendapati keadaan tetap sama. Elaine tetap menjadi bahan ejekan dan karenanya masih belum tetap menikah (walaupun dowrynya besar).evan yang merasa menyesal kemudian memutuskan untuk memperbaiki keadaan dan sekalian berusaha merebut hati Elaine, walaupun Elaine udah bersiap2 untuk menghadapi perang lagi dengan tormentor terbesarnya...hmmm... romantisnya :)

  • Penny Watson
    2019-02-28 14:06

    Finally, a winner! Courtney Milan's new novella, Unlocked, was very sweet. I adore wallflower books, but this one was especially touching since the hero is the cause of years of emotional turmoil for the heroine. Courtney Milan is such a gifted storyteller. I love how this story we see that the hero has grown and matured and is eaten up by guilt about his past behavior. I love that the heroine is torn between her love for her clueless, brilliant mother, and trying to paste on a brave front for the ton. The scene in this book where her mother is giving a lecture and Evan has invited scholars to attend in order to save her mother humiliation by a fickle audience is superb. I sighed out loud reading it. I know, it doesn't sound romantic, but it was one of the most romantic scenes I have read in a very long time. I had a bit of a problem with the virgin turning up at the hero's house for a night of de-flowering, but what do I know? Overall, this story is a beautifully written, charming, and romantic tale, and I adored the hero, Evan. There is nothing better than a flawed man turned hero. Lovely book!Grade: B+

  • Marie Lu
    2019-03-18 11:57

    First of all: Lady Stockhurst. Best mother EVER. This made me want to call my mom and tell her I'm proud of her. :) What a sweet motherly character, always cheery and endearingly oblivious to the biting remarks of others, passionate about mathematics and astronomy....agh, love. LOVE. Milan's romance is sizzling, as always. Evan and Elaine are flawed, sympathetic leads. This is one heck of a good story.

  • Keri
    2019-03-03 12:17

    This was a really lovely short by Ms. Milan. It isn't too often that an author can fit an entire book in such a short format and make it believable. But CM certainly did it for this one. Evan was an immature jerk toward Elaine 10 years ago then made her life hell. But now he is back, matured and ready to grovel if he has to in order to win back the lovely Lady Elaine and she does make him pay. This was a real feel good story and one that I am glad that I didn't miss.

  • Cee (The Mistress Case)
    2019-02-24 10:58

    REREAD APRIL 4, 2016:Just as good as the first time. THIS. BOOK. IS. PRECIOUS.FIRST READ JAN 16, 2015:Okay, I admit I cried. I admit it! What a tear-jerker!“When I see you, I remember that you made me want to drown rather than be myself.”"What you did when you were young could kill you. It just might take years to do it..”The author of Unlocked did a wonderful take on the bully-and-victim-romance between the hero and heroine. Not everyone can pull this off and make it believable and sympathetic.I came to respect Evan for facing his wrongdoings and asking for forgiveness. That takes a lot of strength— and obviously love and respect. He was so perfectly human because of his imperfections. I hated Evan at first. I hated him so much, and honestly, I get that whole “act like a jerk if you like her” kind of thing, but he took to a whole other level and it hurt me so much to see and feel Elaine’s pain. We’ve all lived through humiliation and Elaine still suffered from hers, even ten years later. I admired this woman for her strength, her endurance, and her loyalty. All I wanted to do was cradle her in my arms and protect her like she was my friend, like she was my sister. I would have accepted her even if she did reject Evan. As a matter of fact, I was hoping she would find someone else to marry, not because it would hurt Evan, but because she deserved everything that she never got. It didn’t matter that she loved Evan back; I would’ve firmly understand how she wouldn’t be able to be with him even if she loved him. Some scars are so deep that they will still bleed when you’re around the person who gave them to you. Nonetheless, I am happy she overcame her past and grasped happiness with both hands. I couldn’t even hate Elaine when she confessed that sometimes people made her hated her mother. Nobody’s love is pure or perfect.Another thing: I was expecting more from Elaine like exacting revenge, but I guess it would only give her bullies triumph that they brought her down to their level.Speaking of bullies, I enjoyed Diana’s / Lady Cosgrove’s character too. I understand how it feels when you think you don’t deserve forgiveness, when you don’t want to give in because you’re afraid of retaliation, when you would rather be mean than to allow people to walk all over you. In this case: be the wolf and not the sheep.Overall, this is probably the best and most refreshing historical romance novella I’ve ever read! It was a heartfelt pleasure.