Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind, by Carla Kelly: A Shy Woman Finds Her Voice

miss_miltonMiss Milton Speaks Her Mind ($14.95, 286 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-953-4) features a gentlewoman oppressed by her relatives who learns to stand up for herself. The regency romance was first published in 1998.

Carla Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; a Whitney Award for Best Romance Fiction, 2011; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times. Kelly’s Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand reprint was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 5 romances in 2012.

“Even though Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind is darker than many of Ms Kelly’s other books, it is in no way depressing. There are flashes of humor all throughout the book especially in the ways Lord Denby’s servants treat Lady Carruthers. And when the local doctor treats Cecil for a bad case of hypochondria, you’ll laugh, trust me.  I have never given a book a rating this high, and I may never again. But Carla Kelly simply blew me away with this sublime story. Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind is an A+ book in every way. Carla Kelly, I stand in awe!  Read more ….

– Ellen Micheletti, All About Romance

“I whole-heartedly recommend Miss Milton, but I warn you not to expect it to parallel her previous books. Do expect it to be a moving and engrossing story you won’t soon forget.” Read more ….

–Lesley Dunlap, The Romance Reader

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In 2014, Camel Press will also reprint With This Ring and Mrs. McVinnie’s London Season. Miss Whittier Makes a List, Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour, and Miss Billings Treads the Boards are already available. Camel released Book 1 of Carla’s all-new Spanish Brand series, The Double Cross, in August, 2013. The second book in this series will be published in the fall of 2014.

Carla Kelly is particularly celebrated for her regency romances. The Romance Reader has called her “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre.” According to Romantic Times, “Carla Kelly’s Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight.” Library Journal wrote, “one of the most respected Regency writers.”

Orphaned as a child, Miss Jane Milton lives to serve her Stover cousins, tending to their every need. Her beloved cousin Blair suffered a slow and painful death from wounds received at the Battle of Waterloo, and now, ten months later, Miss Milton feels utterly forlorn. Her one solace is caring for Lord Canfield’s orphaned son, Andrew, a sad boy dogged by rumors that he was conceived before Lord Canfield married his mother. Is the source of these rumors Miss Milton’s second cousin, the imperious Lady Carruthers, who seems determined to disinherit Andrew in favor of her own profligate son? If only Miss Milton could stand up to the horrid woman and her insults.

Miss Milton finds herself spending more and more time in the company of her neighbor, a handsome tradesman. Mr. Butterfield, said to “smell of the shop,” in fact smells deliciously of lavender. He has an encouraging effect on Miss Milton, helping her to understand that her world will not collapse if she learns to speak her mind.

As her regard for her neighbor grows, Miss Milton remains aware of the many reasons they cannot be together. Fifteen years older, Mr. Butterfield is dangerously liberal-minded and earns his fortune through hard work. And she, whose aristocratic relatives look down on men of his ilk, is an impoverished spinster, almost thirty years old. In truth, the real gulf between them lies in the many guilty secrets they and others seem determined to guard at all costs.

Says Kelly, “An historical novel should mirror the age in which it is set. It should also help readers see that history does not happen in a vacuum. Adding a touch of American Revolution to a British-set Regency was a bit of fun for me.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of twenty-nine novels and four non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong interest in history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. Click here to find Carla online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Miss Milton, won’t you come inside until the rain lets up?” She had a ready excuse on her lips—it was late, she was expected at Stover Hall—and she would have delivered it, if she had not looked down at Mr. Butterworth’s feet.

He was wearing house slippers of such a virulent shade of lime green yarn that the colors almost spoke to her. “Sir, what on earth are you doing out here worrying about me, when your feet are … my goodness, Mr. Butterworth, but that is an … an exceptional color.”

He merely smiled and offered her his arm, and for some unaccountable reason, she took it. He will catch his death if I make him stand outside in the rain and argue about whether I should come inside, she rationalized as she let him hurry her along the lane toward the house. Heaven knows he is not a young man, even if he is not precisely old, either.

He did pause for a moment to raise up one slipper from the wet gravel of the lane. “My dear niece made these for me last Christmas. My sister teases me that they were only just Amanda’s practice piece, but I think them quite acceptable.”

“They are, indeed,” she replied, as she allowed herself to be led where she had never gone before. “Am I to assume that you saw me from your window and thought I needed rescuing so badly that you would risk a present from a niece?”

She had never thought herself a witty person, but Mr. Butterworth threw back his head and laughed, which meant that the umbrella went, too, and the rain pelted on her forehead again.

“Oh, I am a poor Sir Galahad, indeed, Miss Milton,” he said, when he straightened the umbrella. “But yes, that is it entirely.” She smiled at him, thinking that no one in England looked less like Sir Galahad than Scipio Africanus Butterworth. She thought he might have over forty years to his credit, but she could not be sure. She was not tall, but standing this close to Mr. Butterworth, she felt even shorter than usual. He was taller even than Lord Denby, and massive without being fat. He could have been intimidating, had his general demeanor been less kind. Years ago over dinner at Stover Hall, Blair had declared that the Almighty had obviously broken the mold with the mill owner. She thought that unfair, and so informed her cousin with a vehemence that surprised her.

She thought of that now, as she found herself being led up the Butterworth lane to the front door. He was directing some pleasantry to her, but all she could see was what she always saw about him: the brownest of eyes with their glance of utter enthusiasm belonging to a far younger man. He also looked so benign, a trait she had never much associated with the district’s general opinion of mill owners.

This perpetual air of good feeling had always amazed her about him and nothing had intervened in the ten years of their acquaintance to change that.

 

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