Talk Sweetly to Me
by Courtney Milan
Brothers Sinister #4.5 (novella)
All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He's an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he's also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn't just a scandal waiting to happen. He's waiting to happen to her... and if she's not careful, she'll give in to certain ruination.
This novella felt immensely too short and I wish we could have gotten more about Rose and Stephen. Their story didn't feel as fleshed out as it could have been considering how wonderfully created Rose's character is. I loved the astronomer geekiness in her, with her super excellent computing skills, and how she kind of just nerds out at the idea of being able to watch the Venus transit.
Anytime we get a super smart female character in any book, with little quirks like Rose has, I get all giddy and smiley. We do not have nearly enough of these types of heroines in fiction--smart, decisive, ambitious... not doormats. And yet at the same time, sweet and level-headed.
Stephen was a bit hard to like at the beginning, but then he starts flinging the jokes and I'm reminded of his brief appearances in the fourth Brothers Sinister book, and how much I enjoyed reading his 'Actual Man' column excerpts. His penchant for being a jokester also melded quite well with his sudden turn to seriousness... sort of. There was a slight disconnect, but it's barely noticeable.
It's just that, I'm not entirely sure what Stephen's mission had been when he wanted to get to know Rose. When he claims that his intentions weren't seduction, I actually kind of believe him. Because I'm not even sure he knew what he was trying to accomplish.
Anyway, this was a great addition to the Brothers Sinister series, though I do wish we could have seen more of the previous characters, rather than just having a mention of one. There was some touching upon the race relations that I think was handled very well--the way Rose and her sister were treated by Dr. Chillingsworth was appallingly upsetting. There were so many times that I just wanted to hit the guy for his "women like her" comments. But that was (and sometimes still is) the reality of life. And so it makes me happy to see Rose stand up for herself and her sister, eventually.
Overall, Talk Sweetly to Me was a very enjoyable novella that kind of just sucks you right in. Before you know it, it's over and you feel that gaping hole that reminds you that the Brothers Sinister series is officially completed.