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Making the list

Cover of The Duke Who Didn't
A review of The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan

The hero and heroine of Courtney Milan's newest historical romance (this one late 19th century, rather than early) have known each other since they were children. And not only have they known each other for years, they have loved as well. But their very different personalities and coping mechanisms have meant that they haven't yet figured that last fact out and have been operating at cross purposes for a few years. Until now. Now Jeremy is back in Wedgeford and he's determined to prove to Chloe that he does love her, she's deserving of that love, and that somehow they can figure out a way for a marriage to work despite what might seem to be a deal-breaker. Unfortunately that potential deal-breaker is a doozy, as Jeremy is not just "Posh Jim", a wealthy kid who came to Wedgeford every year for a visit, he is Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing who owns the entire village.

Chloe Fong is tightly wound, makes a list each and every day, and despairs when she can't complete it. Jeremy is charming and sunnily-sweet and seemingly doesn't have a care in the world. While Chloe spends her days helping her father perfect a sauce that will make them rich (and allow him to get revenge on the men who robbed him), Jeremy flits in and out of their lives. At least that's how it appears to Chloe. The reality is something else. Jeremy's father was a fourth son of a third son in the ducal line, never expected to inherit, and who by the way married a Chinese woman and had a son, Jeremy. And then everyone between Jeremy and the dukedom died and suddenly the title passed to Jeremy, a bi-racial man in 19th century Britain. To say that he's faced racism, despite his being a duke, would be an understatement. Chloe can understand some of Jeremy's experiences as she and her father emigrated to England from China when she was a child and they've struggled to live and work in their adopted country. 

Both Chloe and Jeremy have faced challenges and their personalities and patterns have shaped them into seeming opposites - at least in the part of them they present to the world, Chloe a perfectionist, Jeremy the genial jokester. But what makes them the perfect pair is their similarities; kindness, empathy, love of family, love of community...the list goes on. As they come to realize this, they learn that there's nothing they can't overcome. Lovely.

 

Jan 4, 2021