Heat Factor: 🍆🍆🍆
Character Chemistry: Instant attraction → Denial → We can have just one night → Is this…love? → BUT DUTY!!!
Plot: The set-up is bonkers and makes no sense, but who cares?
Overall: The back and forth between these two is just *chef’s kiss*
I am so glad that Meredith Duran was recommended to me. The way she writes relationships as they develop is just really wonderful. In this case, she writes two unattached, supposedly carefree people who are really desperately lonely and them finding their deeper connection is just gorgeous as it unfolds.
However #1: The set-up is kind of ridiculous. To wit: Michael is a doctor. Michael’s brother, the Duke, is feeling rage-y at the world, so he threatens to cut off funding to Michael’s charity hospital unless Michael stops messing around with widows, settles down, and gets married to ensure the family legacy. So Michael decides to go incognito and hide in Cornwall as a regular country doctor. Where he happens to meet Elizabeth when he finds her passed out in his rose bushes.
So. Just don’t think about Michael’s logic too hard, and instead enjoy the existential angst he and Elizabeth feel as their relationship develops—Michael because he’s lying to Elizabeth about his identity, and Elizabeth because she is toying with a simple country doctor who cannot possibly understand her risqué lifestyle.
However #2 is a bit of a bigger hurdle. You see, the first half of the book is excellent. It’s tightly focused on Elizabeth and Michael and their lives in this Cornwall town. But then Elizabeth discovers that her financial woes are even worse than she previously thought, and if she wants to keep supporting all the people that rely on her, she needs to get married to a wealthy man, like, yesterday. So she throws a house party. And Michael crashes it. As himself. (Elizabeth is *pissed.* The scene where she confronts him is marvelous—layers of sadness and hope all intermingled.)
This means that the second half of the book isn’t quite as tightly focused. We’ve gotten past the deception plot, but now it’s unclear if we’re doing courtship lessons (they both have to get married to proper partners, after all) or what. There are a bunch of characters introduced, some of whom have featured in Duran’s previous books; because I am not a completionist, I generally find insertions like this distracting. Plus it means that Elizabeth is spending time with all these other men who no one (including her) cares about, instead of with Michael.
Let me be clear. The second half of the book wasn’t bad. There are still some gorgeous moments of connection between the characters. I just liked it less than I liked the beginning.
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