“I cannot meet him as a stranger. But he has never known me as myself.”
I loved this so much I wish I could just drop everything I’m doing right now, including writing this review, and read it again. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about it since July, and it is now November.
I would need to re-read anyway to write a review that does it justice, with like, quotes and shit. As of right now, I’m thinking this review is just going to be me going: eVeRyOnE jUsT rEaD tHiS oK???
The basic plot here is that Viola went away to the Napoleonic Wars with her best friend Justin de Vere (the eldest son of a duke) and then took the opportunity to essentially kill off her old self (where she was living as a man) and live as her true self for the first time. She needed to do this for her own sanity and wellbeing, but she very much regrets that in the process, she left Justin to think that she had died. But now, years later, she has learned that Justin is not doing well, at all. He is in a very bad place emotionally, and her sister-in-law persuades her to go and see him, to let him know she is alive, something Viola is understandably wary of doing (Viola is living with her brother, his wife, and their son, and they all know who she is).
Justin meanwhile is living in his cold castle with only his poor, lonely sister as company, when she should be out in society, not shut away playing nursemaid. So when the lovely Viola shows up, dragging him up out of his misery and grief, he feels better than he has since he came back from the war.
The whole time you’re just waiting for him to find out who she is and when it finally happens it’s DELICIOUS but also even before he finds out, their chemistry is outrageous. This book made me feel so many feelings. I swooned. I was sad. I laughed (Alexis Hall is always funny). I fell in love with the characters. This is pretty long for a historical romance novel, but it deserves every page. He wrote this book with the challenge that the conflict here would not be that Viola is trans, and it isn’t, and it’s beautiful and perfect and I love it so much. The End.
Chipping Away at Mt. TBR, July 2022—Book 28/31