This was an ARC sent to me by the author. I had already pre-ordered the book, and the free copy has not influenced my review in any way.
Official book description:
Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.
Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.
All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.
Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.
Chloe Fong is seen as strict, stern, intimidating, and demanding by everyone in the little village of Wedgeford Downs, where she lives with her father. Chloe’s mother died when she was a baby, and Chloe’s father was taken advantage of by unscrupulous businessmen, who have now gotten rich because of the sauce he developed for them. Chloe wants to help her father perfect his new sauce, launch a rival sauce production company and eventually achieve revenge over the men who left her father to fend for himself once he had used his culinary skills to their advantage. Her father is just as much of a perfectionist as she is, and loathe to accept help from anyone, least alone the child he promised her mother he would provide for and keep safe.
The only man who ever seemed to show any romantic interest in Chloe was Jeremy Yu, also affectionately known in Wedgeford Downs as “Posh Jim”. For nine years, he would come to visit during the big festival, charming everyone in general and Chloe in particular. However, once she asked him to go away until he could be serious, he disappeared, and for the last two years, despite Chloe trying to pretend that she doesn’t miss him, he has stayed away. Now, when Chloe is facing possibly the most challenging weekend of her life, when the decades-long plans of her father and her may come to fruition (she just needs to figure out a name for the sauce first), he suddenly shows up again, and asks Chloe to make him a list. A list to help him find a wife…
The man known as Jeremy Yu or “Posh Jim” in Wedgeford Downs has several secrets. The fact that he is absolutely besotted with Miss Chloe Fong isn’t really a secret to anyone who has ever seen them together, except to Chloe herself. No, his biggest secret is that he is, in actuality, Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, he owns the village of Wedgeford Downs, and everyone who lives there probably owes him about forty years worth of back rent. Jeremy was only a teenager the first time he came to Wedgeford during their famous Trials festival, and he was warmly accepted by everyone there and felt a sense of belonging he hasn’t felt anywhere else, so he couldn’t very well confess his true identity then. And with each passing year, confessing the truth became harder and harder.
Now Jeremy’s aunt wants him to settle down and find a wife, and for him, there is only one candidate. He went away to try to be serious for Chloe, but can’t seem to stop making jokes and looking for the positive in every situation. Jeremy knows he will need to tell her the truth about himself and his title before he proposes, but he is also aware that asking Chloe to become a Duchess is no easy thing. His mother hated the way she was treated by British high society and went back to China as soon as she could after his father’s death. Nevertheless, if he must marry, Chloe is the only one he could imagine spending his life with. In order to get to spend as much time with her as possible, he promises her ten pounds if she’ll write him a list with all of her qualities, as the only woman he’d consider marrying needs to have ALL of her qualities. He also insists on helping her and her father with their many tasks in preparing for the festival and the launch of their (hopefully soon to be famous) sauce.
Full review on my blog.