The Duke Who Didn’t
4.5 stars, actually.
Milan seems to know deep in her soul how to craft romance stories that hit all my comfort reading sweet spots: delicious, snarky banter, descriptions of delicious food, and the focus on Asians in heretofore erroneously completely white historical scenarios.
Chloe Fong lives in the small town of Wedgeford. Thinly disguised analogues of Lea & Perrin stole her father’s “brown” sauce, and now, intent on taking back her father’s culinary legacy, she is bottling a newer, better version of that sauce to launch on the even of Wedgeford’s yearly games.
Three years ago, the mysterious “Posh Jim”, a half-chinese rich boy who used to attend the games every year and flirted with Chloe, stealing her heart, stopped coming. She’s resigned herself to a broken heart, so Posh Jim’s sudden appearance this year causes some sauce bottle breaking and consternation.
There is very, very thinly veiled machinations on Posh Jim’s part to make Chloe fall in love with him, there is non-stop banter and teasing from other village members, there is the descriptions of Chloe’s father’s food (links to some of his recipes in the back of his book!) and the torture of Posh Jim through the addition of copious amounts of red pepper to his food.
It’s. So. Much. Fun. Like really lively and fun and entertaining. There’s definitely some steam, but they’re even teasing and bantering during that. (a bit too much for my taste, I wanted to say “be serious” a couple of times to both of them!).
Entering the town of Wedgeford with Chloe and Posh Jim felt a little like watching a zany version of Importance of being earnest only with richer and more diverse food and definitely a bit of cultural education on the diversity of dialects “Chinese” people commonly encounter as well as Japanese best friend! Can’t wait for the next installment as it is perfect escapist fare.