Review: The Pursuit Of… by Courtney Milan (2018)

A Worth Saga Novella

Heat Factor: One extremely hot encounter and a lot of longing

Character Chemistry: irrepressible chatterbox meets taciturn stoic, and it’s adorable

Plot: Journey of Discovery

Overall: Awwwwwwww

The scene is set at the Battle of Yorktown, opening as the fight is already well under way and the end is near. John is watching his fellows storm a redoubt (Or something…I’m not really a military history buff, so I’ll defer to Milan here… Everything she wrote made sense to me at the time…). All he wants to do is finish the war and get home safe. He’s really worried about his family. They’re freed slaves, and even though everybody says they’re fighting for these ideals in the Declaration of Independence, it’s pretty clear that society still thinks those ideals only apply to certain skin colors. Or just one skin color. So John is fighting conservatively with a single-minded determination to get home. Then he sees something and it’s like, “For real? I have to fight someone? Now? Ugh.” But he’s a man of principle so he’s fighting for his life while–his opponent is discussing the weather? What is the deal with this British officer?

Henry is the younger son and life disappointment of a man who is obviously an aristocrat (read between the lines). He talks incessantly about absolutely everything and makes up all kinds of stories on the spot. He’s been told his whole life that he’s a frivolous waste of humanity, which is so sad. He’s so nice. Fortunately, his father sent him off to war to die or man up (either/or). Upon arrival he sees the Declaration of Independence and he’s smitten, so he uses his frivolity as a cover to mask gross incompetence in a bid to lose the war. When he fights John and John bests him, he’s like, “Please just go ahead and kill me.” Can’t do that!

John has a chip on his shoulder. He’s won his freedom and he’s been fighting in the war, but he’s used to white men saying just about anything (nice) to him without really meaning it. It’s easy to understand why he’s bitter and stoic, but he’s not terribly likeable at the beginning. Honorable, but not likeable. Henry on the other hand is immediately likeable but comes from a life with almost no adversity. He hasn’t been made to consider life outside of his sphere closely. Nevertheless, he tells John he owes him, and he’s going to pay that debt.

John: Suuuuuuuuuuure

Henry: What do you need?

John: I really need a buddy for a 500 mile hike.

Henry: When do we start?

John: Uh, what?

I paraphrase. The majority of the story is this journey of self discovery, discovery of other viewpoints, discovery of deep and abiding friendship and love, and it’s engaging, thoughtful, and delightful. John challenges Henry regarding those pesky ideals early on, making Henry rethink his life goals. As Henry grows on John, the relationship becomes charmingly sweet. There was a moment when I had to wonder if I was going to see a happily ever after for these two at the end of their journey, but fear not! You won’t be let down.

Also: Scanshire? Really?

This novella was originally published as part of a trio of novellas titled Hamilton’s Battalion, so each story loosely links back to a narrative arc in which Eliza Hamilton is reaching out to as many people as she can to gather stories or experiences of her husband (Alexander Hamilton, in case you’ve been living under a rock since the meteoric rise of Lin-Manuel Miranda). We’ll discuss Hamilton’s Battalion in a later post.

Buy Now: Amazon

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