For the love of everything you hold dear, do not start this book on a weekday.
This book is a warm bath. This book is a weighted, sherpa-lined blanket on a cold winter morning. This book is a long hug from a friend you haven’t seen since COVID hit. And it will lull you in with its light, silly, premise set in an idyllic countryside village and before you know it it’s 2:16am and you’re crying about chosen family and the meaning of belonging.
Don’t be that person. You have work in the morning.
Milan has obviously made a name for herself as an exceptional writer of well researched, well written, progressive historical romances and yet even describing them this way feels cheap. I do not exaggerate in the least when I say that I am a happier, more fulfilled person today because 3 years ago, in an attempt to prove to myself that I wasn’t prejudiced against romance as a genre, I picked up one of her books on a whim. And this monster made me feel feelings. Rude.
Milan’s writing, and this book is no different, demands that our protagonists earn their happy ending and that they do it by being brave. By doing what’s right, even when it’s hard and scary and complicated. By challenging their own views. By valuing their own needs and only surrounding themselves with people that value them too (and their own). By taking risks that won’t always pay off. There are a lot of wonderful lines in this book, but this one really resonated with me in a way that I think best encapsulates what makes this novel so special:
She imagined her fears of frailty and abandonment as a heavy, spiked ball deep inside her. But she’d dealt with fears before. She thanked them for keeping her safe, acknowledged them for the work they had done in bringing her to this moment. And then she imagined taking that spiked ball out of her, holding it out as if it were a dandelion puff… and blowing all that fear away, to scatter in the wind.
Just don’t start it on a weekday.