Ash is actually out for so much more than revenge on the Duke of Parford. You see, he occassionally gets these minor precognitive moments and he just knows that if he is the duke it will make up for what his brothers suffered when Ash left them to make his fortune in India. When Ash finally returned he discovered both of his brothers living on the streets due to their mother's insanity, and he shoulders the blame. The revenge is just icing on the cake.
Ash discovers evidence that the duke is a bigamist because of a marriage in his youth that was never dissolved. This evidence renders his current marriage illegal, and the duke's children bastards. It also destroys the duke's wife who quickly falls ill and dies. When the story opens, Ash has been granted permission by Parliament to review the Parford estate before they resume sessions in the fall. Ash and his brother arrive to find an ailing, rancorous duke, an uncertain household staff, and one semi-hostile nurse.
Courtney Milan doesn't try to circumvent the immutable law of primogeniture in Unveiled. If she had I would have dropped the book like a hot pan. Instead she has Parford's children appeal to parliament to pass a law that specifically restores the three of them to legitimacy.
The story was pretty basic but, the way Courtney Milan weaves it together pairing a flawed, everyman hero with a displaced duke's daughter, made Unveiled come alive. I felt like I was right in the story with the characters and suffering what they did.
Ash is a self-made man and he is comfortable with everyone no matter their station. He makes even the lowliest servant feel important, letting them know that their opinions matter to him. It was this trait that brought Margaret around. In her guise as nurse to her father, Ash constantly tells her she was important and she mattered. He didn't know her true identity, he just saw the inner person. He truly believes it and he makes Margaret believe it as well. Something her father and brothers never did. It's no wonder she fell in love with him so quickly. Heck, I even fell a little bit in love with him.
Unveiled had me biting my nails and on the edge of my seat wondering--worrying--how the Legitimization Act would play out. Would the old lords legitimize Parford's children, or would they take the side of the upstart? Would Margaret use her knowledge of Ash to further her brothers' cause? Would I end up hating her character? I can't tell you the answer to any of these questions, I can only say, don't waste another moment before reading Unveiled!
Mild spoilers here: when the final reveal comes about who Margaret really is, does Ash get angry at her for lying to him? NO. He punches out her brother for putting his sister in a position that would ruin her reputation. Ash still tells Margaret that she matters and that despite having been branded a bastard by his suit, she still has a reputation worth protecting. How awesome is that?!
Courtney Milan does not write predictable heroes, and I love that about her books. She not only pushes the boundaries we readers are so familiar and comfortable with, she crosses them and sails into completely new territory, redefining what I now need in my romances for a truly great story. Courtney Milan keeps getting better and better with each book she writes. I can't say enough good things about Unveiled and I highly recommend it.