Unclaimed a while ago, but everyone's consistently positive reviews made me think I should give her another try. That and the vague promise of opera sex piqued my interest. So, I optimistically picked up Unraveled (2011).
Unraveled is in the same series as Unclaimed and the story involves another Turner brother. Smite was horribly abused by his crazy mother as a child--hence his name. He's got some major issues with intimacy because of it, but he's made himself an honest and fair magistrate. Miranda Darling is the daughter of actors. When her mother died, her father lost it and Miranda was left alone at seventeen in the slums of Bristol.
Now, I did enjoy this one more than Unclaimed, but that's not saying too much. Really, I enjoyed the middle part of the book where Smite and Miranda were spending the most time together. The beginning was rather tedious and the ending felt rather ridiculous. According to my Kindle, I was 20% into the book when I wanted to give up on it. I'm usually prepared for some set up of the story. However, by the time I'd read 1/5 of the book, it felt like nothing had happened and I still didn't care about the characters. I didn't want to have to push myself through the rest of it. Fortunately it got better and I didn't really get bored or frustrated again until I hit the last fifth of the book. In fact, I thought all the drama in the scene where Smite and Miranda first sleep together was very touching.
Now, I'm not even sure what my problem is, but I think that there's not enough detail about the characters or even the settings for me to feel involved. I don't understand their motivations and they don't feel like real people. I couldn't tell that Miranda even liked Robbie or feel any sense of a connection. He felt tacked on to give her some dimension, and as soon as that was done, he was shipped off and out of the way. And even though I appreciated that there wasn't much manufactured drama from Miranda keeping her past secret from Smite, I did think that Smite sending her away was manufactured drama in its place. It only really kept them separated for a night and wasn't really necessary. And I did not buy the resolution of the whole Patron storyline. I couldn't imagine a Godfather figure take all those years to gather up all that power just to let it go in the end. I didn't buy it for a second.
Now, the opera sex was pretty hot, and I appreciated how Smite went out of his way to do something for Miranda. But I was distracted by the details. Smite was carrying around a vinegar-soaked sponge all night? Where? He certainly got it out from wherever he was keeping it pretty quickly. And even if they were lucky enough that every theater patron stayed put for the final aria of the opera, where were all the people that worked there--ushers, managers, etc.? Granted, I've never been to the opera in the 1800's, but I've also never seen an empty theater lobby. And for someone as rule abiding as Smite, someone who would never bend the law--even for Miranda--he was acting out of character.
So, this one was an improvement for me but not enough. It's probably better for everyone if I just give up on Milan for good.