Courtney Milan is a member of House Slytherin, and that makes me extremely giddy as a fellow Slytherin. That, however, isn’t the only reason as to why she creates this wealth of joy for me. She’s also one of my favourite authors, ever.
I discovered her work when I was getting back into reading romance at the beginning of my undergraduate degree. I had heard about her from a recommendation that Amanda Nelson had made on one of the numerous Book Riot podcasts. I was intrigued by the book’s plot, that book being The Countess Conspiracy, and picked it up almost immediately. I have happily not looked back since and have been working my way through her backlist and patiently await all her upcoming novels.
If you haven’t heard of Courtney Milan, let me give you a quick rundown. She’s an award-winning and bestselling romance novelist, an absolutely incredible writer, a romance reader advocate, a BAMF woman of colour, and a pretty amazing human being from what I’ve gleaned about her. She’s written over a dozen novels, ranging from contemporary to historical romance, and in her own words, she “writes books about carriages, corsets, and smart watches.”
Courtney didn’t start out as a full-time novelist though. Before publishing her first romance novel, she was a lawyer and law professor for many years, and before beginning her career in law she had considered a career in STEM and actually has her masters in theoretical physical chemistry. Pretty amazing, right?
Want to know something even more unique about Courtney? She writes her novels by hand. BY HAND! ALL OF THEM! Almost every single word by hand. She writes her novels on her iPad and then types them out when she had the majority of her novel written and makes changes and edits from there. I was amazed to glean that information about her writing process from her episode with the podcast The Wicked Wallflowers Club [which by the way is an amazing podcast and one I totally recommend]. She also doesn’t write in a linear process. She usually starts off with a singular scene and works outward from their, creating the story to encompass that initial vivid scene. It’s pretty amazing, and as a person who has always strictly written in a linear style, that’s incredibly fascinating to me.
What makes Courtney one of my favourite writers ever, and why I think everyone should be reading her work, is that she has this ability to create characters, male and female, that you can instantly relate to and connect with that are incredibly multi-dimensional and complex. They are unique and singular that you can recall them with ease. Her stories revolve around these characters, their actions, their motivations, their histories, their triumphs and mistakes, and how they fall in love with one another and get to that happily ever after.
One of my favourite novels that she has written is Trade Me. The book centres on the two characters of Tina Chen and Blake Reynolds. I actually wrote a whole essay about this novel last year. Trade Me was the first book that I felt truly reflected in, and it only took me 25 years to discover it. As a woman of colour, as a Chinese-Canadian, as a child of immigrants, finding stories that reflect the experiences and the history that is my life rarely happens, and I found it in Trade Me. I immediately connected with Tina and her struggles to not only forge a path that was all her own, but also that filial responsibility that one feels when you are the oldest child in an immigrant family, especially a Chinese family. My connection with Blake came from the pressure he felt to be perfect and to be everything and everywhere that his father needed him to be. Both of these characters were so well written, so actualized that I felt deeply and profoundly for both of them and their story and waited with bated breath watching the two of them fall for one another and work towards a happily ever after together. I am hotly anticipating the release of the follow up full-length novel Find Me in Tina and Blake’s story, which (all my fingers and toes crossed) will hopefully be released this year. Trade Me is one of my top five favourite books of all time and I’m so grateful for Courtney for having written it.
Since Courtney does have over a dozen novels under her belt, these are my top three recommendations that you should totally go out and pick and read as soon as possible. I promise you won’t regret it.
1. Trade Me + the follow-up novella The Year of the Crocodile
2. Trial by Desire
3. Hamilton’s Battalion (and definitely read Courtney’s endnotes. I teared up reading it and her passion for writing and why she continues to write romance.)
Courtney Milan is an absolutely amazing author and one that if you haven’t already discovered and read, you definitely should.
Tune in next week for the continuation of the Spotlight series.
Thanks for reading!