Smite Turner is renowned for his single-minded devotion to his duty as a magistrate. But behind his relentless focus lies not only a determination to do what is right, but the haunting secrets of his past—secrets that he is determined to hide, even if it means keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Until the day an irresistible woman shows up as a witness in his courtroom…
Miranda Darling isn’t in trouble…yet. But she’s close enough that when Turner threatens her with imprisonment if she puts one foot wrong, she knows she should run in the other direction. And yet no matter how forbidding the man seems on the outside, she can’t bring herself to leave. Instead, when he tries to push her away, she pushes right back—straight through his famous self-control, and into the heart of the passion that he has long hidden away.
***WARNING: EXTREMELY GUSH-FILLED REVIEW AHEAD***
It is very rare when every book in a series is considered a 5-Star read. But, that is exactly what happened with Courtney Milan's epic Turner Family series. For those of you who do not know, the Turner brothers were cursed with an insane and abusive mother. Each of these men reacted differently to their mother's treatment and have unique character quirks that endear them to readers.
Unveiled is the first book and tells the story of Ash, the eldest, who escaped from their mother's clutches to make a fortune, rescue his younger siblings, and restore his family's proper place in society. Next, Milan delves deeper into the character of Mark, the youngest, who becomes a celebrity in English society with his views on male chastity in Unclaimed. There have also been various entertaining novellas that help enhance this wonderful series.
And then there was Smite Turner and Unraveled. While I would recommend reading all the books in this series based on my personal enjoyment, I do believe this is one that can be read as a stand-alone. There is some overlap with previous characters, but not enough to cause confusion.
Smite is the middle brother in the Turner family and was the most abused by his mother. Based on his experiences, he has become obsessed with seeking justice for those most unfortunate and takes his position as a magistrate very seriously. His sense of justice and loyalty is obvious from the moment that he is introduced. Unfortunately, his obsession has forced him to shy away from emotional intimacy or, as he refers to it, sentimentality. He strongly believes that he is a broken man and is striving to do whatever he can to prevent something similar happening to someone else.
Miranda is an accomplished con woman who is struggling to survive in the impoverished areas of Bristol. She uses her skills primarily to help her neighbors get out of difficult situations with the law. Unfortunately, Smite Turner's impeccable memory causes him to recognize her in one of her many disguises and he tries to keep her out of trouble through various threats and proclamations. As a heroine, Miranda is strong-willed and knows exactly what she wants. Her life has made her tough and she does not take anything for granted. She also has a deep desire for affection that was instilled in her by her family and guardians.
As a couple, Smite and Miranda are full of sexual tension, understanding, and respect. Sparks fly from the moment they meet, but their relationship does not rely solely on lust though that is what Smite desired at the beginning. In order to help Miranda get through some difficulties and to help himself stop obsessing over her, Smite offers her a position as his mistress for a month. The rest of the book takes place over that time period and shows how their relationship transforms as they get to know each other better.
Another relationship that I enjoyed in this book, and the series as a whole, is between the Turner brothers. They all went through alot in their childhood and have the scars, mostly invisible, to prove it. Smite and Mark are extremely close and, therefore, understand one another's mood and temperament. Ash and Smite, on the other hand, have had a difficult time relating throughout the series. This book allows them both to get to the root of their sibling issues and really understand how much they mean to each other. I love reading about authentic family relationships and Milan does this extremely well.
There is an important subplot that involves Miranda and the mysterious Patron who has been delving out their own version of justice in the poorer areas of Bristol. Usually suspenseful side stories just take away from my overall enjoyment of the story since I tend to be more interested in the romance, not the mystery. But, I thought this subplot was intriguing and fairly unpredictable. Also, it was well-balanced with the Miranda/Smite storyline so it never felt out of place.
Overall, this was a fabulous ending to a fabulous series. Courtney Milan is a truly talented writer who is not afraid to push the envelope and provide characters and plots that are a little left of center. After years of reading too many Duke of Slut and Bluestocking Betty stories, I, for one, am ecstatic to see authors thinking outside the box and giving readers something fresh. I highly recommend Unraveled and the entire Turner family series!!
"There isn't one part of me that you've flinched from. I don't know why you'd marry me, but I know why I'm desperate for you. Nobody else on earth would bring me to myself as you have."
"Oh, don't you know why I love you?"
He turned to her. His hands closed roughly about her wrists. "Say it again."
"You anchor me without holding me down. You frighten me without threatening my future. You're unflinchingly devoted. I love you."
*Unveiled (Ash and Margaret)
*The Birthday Gift
*Unlocked (Evan and Elanie)
*Unclaimed (Mark and Jessica)
*Out of the Frying Pan
*Unraveled (Smite and Miranda)