The Duke Who Didn't

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Duke Who Didn't
Courtney Milan, 2020

Premise: Chloe Fong is focused on one goal: making her father's sauce a successful business. She certainly doesn't have time for her old crush on Jeremy Yu. Jeremy wants to convince Chloe that he's serious about her, but what will happen when the townsfolk find out that he's technically the Duke?

So, Chloe is a constant list-maker. She's stubborn and type-A and prone to over-planning and keeps grudges like they're going out of style. The first pages describe her beloved clipboard.

What I'm trying to say is I feel a bit called out here. Maybe more than a bit. 

Even if you don't strongly identify with the heroine, though, there's a lot to love here. I think what I most enjoy about Milan's work, and most of the romance I like, is the particular mix of reality and aspiration. 

For example, many of the characters face racism and other discrimination because the book is set in England in 1891. However, it's also set in a wonderful haven of a multicultural village - an unlikely place but not impossible. In fact, both heroine and hero face and overcome their difficulties in ways that are perhaps unlikely for the time but not impossible (you can always check Milan's notes at the end for citations and research).

Another aspect I enjoy is that the romance feels right. I usually have little interest in lust-at-first-sight, and Chloe and Jeremy have been pining after each other for a realistically long time, even if their visits have been short. There's a lot of angst about a particular obstacle to their union that turns out to pop like a soap bubble when actually aired (rather than turn into a heap of cloying melodrama). 

Both of them are brave and true and talented, and they make each other better as well as making each other happy. 

Another winner from an author I am coming to trust. 

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

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