Unlocked (Turner #1.5) by Courtney Milan
Not feeling the romance buzz of late, I've taken a break from all romance, only to be pulled back with this amazing short story by one author I know can write some amazing novels with beautifully deep characters. Ten years ago Lady Elaine Warren (BF of the heroine of Unveiled) was mocked and teased by Evan Carlton to the point that even ten years later she's sunned by society. Now a man, Evan returns to see the damage he's done to Elaine a wallflower and feel disgusted with himself, his cousin that kept the insults up and society as a whole. Wanting to make things right, he's surprised the girl he was secretly attached to is still that bright girl with that laugh out loud hidden underneath with sharp claws and able to take the hits and able to give as good as she gets, and perhaps a second chance at love and forgiveness. When it comes to short stories, I don't want just a sex marathon, I want them to pack and punch in the short pages and chapters. And Unlocked did just that with scenes that had me in tears with my heart in my throat and smiling through the tears. Elaine never understood why Evan was such a ass to her, but the effects of his bullying are long reached through the years he's been gone. Elaine isn't without her own shields and claws to defend her and her genius mother from the snide remarks that society throw at them. Finally set in her life, Elaine is shocked to have Evan walk back into her life asking to apologize for his actions. Not trusting him or his change of heart, she throws it back into his face, only to be surprised time and again by his actions. I think many of us have been in Elaine's shoes, myself included by being bullied and hurt by people for no other reason then just because. So I understood deeply where Elaine came from, and how like her grew stronger from it. Elaine showed a even great greater strength in forgiveness of those whom have hurt her and that's Evan and others. She showed that her heart was big enough and she was strong enough to put the past behind her and move toward a brighter future full of love. I didn't know how CM would pull off having a asshat and bully as a hero, but I really shouldn't have even had a seed of doubt in my mind, as this is CM and her works have proven she can pull it off and she does that ten-fold with Evan, whom has a boy didn't know how to show his be a grown up, and ran away from the guilt when he saw the damage he done to Elaine. Ten years of being a mountaineer has made a man out of the once spoiled boy. Now back, he's out to undo wrongs and set things right, but that proves to be harder then he thought and not all scars can be removed. Evan's reason behind the bullying were that of a young boy's, while still wrong, it showed how immature he was. Now a man, he can look back and see what a dumbass he was. I think many of us wish we could go back in time and fix the mistakes we made in the past as our younger selfs. Evan proves to everyone and the reader that he's truly has changed, to a heartbreaking and loving hero. Evan has his hands full, but with sheer will alone, goes out there and shows his love to Elaine and earn her trust. Him being the pebble in the water as it ripples out and changes the outlook of all those around and mostly his cousin, whom he still loves and we see the change in her that turns your heart over. The trust and love and most of all forgiveness between Evan and Elaine is showen with a beautiful love scene and later a surprise to show the true change of both characters. If you haven't picked up a Courtney Milan, pick this little gem up as it's worth it's weight in gold, and leave you wondering why you haven't read Milan earlier!