If you are in the mood for a low stakes, low conflict book, the equivalent of a warm hug followed by maybe a tickle or an affectionate pinch on the bum, then this is the book for you. Also, if you are hungry! Don’t read this. Or, do. And then cook the recipes Ms. Milan has so thoughtfully provided on her website. You know what, I take back the thing about the pinch, because that doesn’t seem enjoyable. Maybe a pat instead? Anyway I was trying to figure out some sort of metaphorical equivalent of Jeremy’s (the titular Duke) sense of humor and I don’t know if it worked out too well.
Jeremy Yu (not his real name) has been visiting the village of Wedgeford for years now, ever since he was a child and happened upon it during its annual, famous games: the Wedgeford Trials. Jeremy is also the half-Chinese, half-English Duke who happens to own most of Wedgeford, but he’s never told any of his friends there who he is, not even the girl he’s in love with and plans to marry. Awkward. Chloe Fong is that girl, and three years before the events of this book, she in frustration turned him down and asked him to be serious (Jeremy is a chronic-jokester, as previously mentioned). He hasn’t come back yet because he hasn’t figured out how to do that for her. Until now.
I don’t want to say more because a great pleasure of this book is watching it tease out its own nuances. I loved all the characters the more we heard about them, and I loved this improbable village with its weird game (I want more about the game next time! Chloe, et al, were understandably more concerned with running their bun and sauce booth in this one). This book is also the funniest Ms. Milan has let herself be in some time. You could feel how much she was having a good time with it.
I actually managed for the first time in the six and a half years my IRL book club has been going to get a full-on romance novel on the slate, so I’m interested to see what my friends think of this. For most of them, it’s their first “romance novel,” though most of them have read a few contemporary romances/women’s fiction.
Anyway, loved it. My only complaint that’s currently keeping me from giving this five stars (which might change once I let the book settle in my mind more) is that we are just dropped in without any sort of prelude or prologue and it was a bit discombobulating. But the more it went on and I got situated, the more I just allowed my pants to be charmed right off.