So you’ll recall that on a short domestic flight in September, I’d read a Courtney Milan novel and found it to be ideal airplane reading. Then back in October, I read five Courtney Milan novels/novellas to get me through flights to and from Hawaii. Well, in December I ended up needing to fly to India, which is a considerably longer flight, so I ended up reading nine of them—specifically, Courtney Milan’s Worth Saga and the Cyclone series.
The Worth Saga is another historical series, though I think set later than the Brothers Sinister books—late 19th century, anyway, mostly. It does that series-y thing of spiraling outward from its main character, but here it spirals further away into maybe Milan’s most diverse cast. There’s a story about a genuinely poor woman who falls in love with a mostly-also-poor man, no dukes in sight; there’s a story about two soldiers who fall in love with each other during the Revolutionary War (a kind of prequelly thing); there’s a story about two elderly women who fall in love with each other; and about a Chinese girl raised by an English woman who falls in love with a telegraph magnate; as well as some more traditional nobility/nobility-adjacent romances. The first book (one of the traditional nobility ones) didn’t really work for me, and felt very by-the-numbers, with faux-witty banter that reminded me of David Weber. Past that, though, the series was plenty enjoyable.
The Cyclone series is set in the modern-day. Beyond the change in setting, it’s also a narrative departure, being told in first-person, present-tense—this is weird at first, but quickly turns invisible. So kind of the weird thing here is that one of the characters is a billionaire (the also-brilliant son of a Jobs/Gates-style tech genius who is still personally leading the tech company he founded). In a sense, this is not really any different than the dukes of historical fiction—there’s the same incredible privilege and power going on—but because it’s set in a more normal, and less fantastical, world, it ends up feeling more starkly odd, like one of the characters has superpowers or something. The second book in the series is better for being less billionaire-focused, but also the plot is basically just You’ve Got Mail, with characters who’ve been corresponding pseudonymously and have digital feelings for each other, but who unknowingly hate each other in the real world. I mean, there are some wrinkles to it (one of the characters is trans), but end of the day, it lives or dies based on how much you want a reprise of that story template. The final story isn’t even really a romance properly—it’s about the parents of the characters from the first book meeting each other. They don’t fall in love or anything, it’s just a normal story about parents meeting, except that the parents are all outsized personalities; it’s fun.
So obviously, Milan’s books are all recommended, especially but not exclusively for flying purposes. But for my part, I’m keeping the rest in reserve for my next flight—the biggest problem I have is that it won’t take too many more trips before I’ll have burned through all her books.