Review: The Pursuit of… – Courtney Milan

Review: The Pursuit of… – Courtney MilanThe Pursuit Of...
by Courtney Milan
Series: Worth Saga #2.5
Also in this series: After the Wedding, Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure
Publisher: Courtney Milan
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Genres: Romance
Pages: 146
Source: Publisher, Purchased

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a white British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually.

• They attempted to kill each other the first time they met.
• They're liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they're inexplicably sharing.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are… Oh, no.

The Pursuit Of… is about a love affair between two men and the Declaration of Independence. It’s a novella of around 38,000 words.

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So, if you’ve been reading my reviews, you know that I have a deep and abiding love for pretty much everything Courtney Milan writes.  Her books tend to be simultaneously witty and hilarious while also bringing all the feels, and I mark each new release on the calendar.  So it was with a bit of surprise that I realized that I hadn’t gotten around to reading Hamilton’s Battalion, an anthology of historical romance novellas set during and after the Revolutionary War and including stories from Ms. Milan, Alyssa Cole and Rose Lerner.  So when I realized the stories were being released individually, I finally got my act together and decided to start reviewing them!

“He gritted his teeth and tried to smash the other man’s head.
The other man ducked out of the way. “Nice weather for a siege, isn’t it?”

John, a black American soldier, is busy just trying to survive the Battle of Yorktown, so when he happens upon a British officer skulking in the woods, his first thought is to kill him.  Luckily, he decides to spare his life, with the other man promising to search him out after the war in return for his mercy.  John, used to the non-promises of rich white men, thinks nothing of it, and so is surprised when the man actually shows up in the Revolutionary soldier’s camp days after the surrender.  He has no time for a probably insane British officer, considering he’s worried by the lack of correspondence from his sister.  So when he flippantly suggests Henry can help him by accompanying him on his trek from Virginia back to his family in Rhode Island, expecting to be brushed off, he’s alarmed when he accepts.

“I am a cheesemonger,” Henry said. It was a complete lie, but the story almost didn’t matter. “Cheese is my livelihood. I am here for the purpose of purveying cheese.”
The men exchanged confused glances and Henry made a mental note: Next time, less emphasis on cheese.

Henry is… well, Henry is, in his words, is odd, even for an obviously well-off British officer.  In John’s words, he’s “something of a puppy—earnest, exuberant, and utterly devoid of house-training.”  Over the course of their road trip back to John’s family, they slowly begin to become friends, and then more.  I would not have thought that you could write a character as sympathetic as a black ex-slave Revolutionary soldier, but Henry nearly meets that.  I won’t spoil why that is, just reiterate that Ms. Milan knows how to bring all the feels to the party.

“An ideal set in motion is a dangerous thing. You can’t control who believes it, or whether they take it to heart. ‘All men are created equal.’ Think of the power of that phrase.”

It’s refreshing for a m/m romance as there’s no angst over their orientations – they’ve both long ago accepted that they’re gay and also both quickly realize the other is as well.  There’s a lot of good dialogue around allyship, as well, around the thorny bits of performative allyship, selfish allyship versus actually being an ally.  In the midst of a delightful slow-burn, well-characterized, utterly hilarious romance, we’ve got the best explanation and demonstration of what allyship should look like.  And this, probably, is why I keep coming back to Ms. Milan’s work, because I can count on finishing one of her stories with a whole lot of happy feels, some teary angst, and also a moral about how everyone has some inherent worth.

In summary, if you’re looking for a hilarious historical with all the feels, read this, or any other of Ms. Milan’s work.

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