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A lovely read that had me smirking and giggling every few pages. Just perfect to escape into this year. And so chocca full of food it had to be written during Lockdown!
Chloe & Jeremy might be misfits in a misfit village, but their quirks compliment each other so well. He's impulsive, she plans the spontaneity out of everything with her lists. The things that should be his greatest assets - title and fortune - he sees as the reasons most likely to stop everyone liking him.
Nothing in this book is quite like you expect it to be, from the romance to the obstacles to the culture, and it's all the more satisfying for it, coming from the world of historical romance which is too often formulaic.
Milan gives us another warmhearted story of love between a strong woman and a man who's not ashamed of owning a heart. This one takes a little more suspension of disbelief than usual, but the story's worth the effort.
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.
Are you ready for something different, sweet and tangy? No, not the sauce! This book is something new. It's not your traditional Victorian Romance and that's a good thing. It's a refreshing, multi-cultural, with glimpses into the Chinese cultures featured within. So many things to learn! Plus, Jeremy is really, really in love with Chloe. And Chloe reminded me of my cousin, crunchy and business-like on the outside, but just dying to let loose on the inside. I love how she's the adventurous, curious one and he's almost just along for the ride in the book. He's willing to suffer anything for her. I also loved how the deep, dark secret Jeremy was keeping played out. I'd like to see the other inhabitants of Wedgeford venture forth, too. Series: Wedgeford Trials #1 Type: Victorian Heat: 7/10 Tropes: Second Chance, Cinnamon Roll Hero, Grumpy Strong Heroine, Only One Bed Premise: Jeremy has always loved Chloe Fong. What Jeremy hasn't told her is, he's now the Duke of Lansing. The whole town of Wedgeford, a settlement of Hakka & Cantonese immigrants, knows him as the affable "Posh Jim." He's left each time he's visited, which Chloe isn't happy about. She's in love with him but he keeps leaving. She's checked him off her list and Chloe loves to make lists. She intends to right a wrong done to her father by a British Sauce company years ago, by creating and distributing a currently unnamed sauce he's worked on for years to prove he was wrongfully fired. They're going to roll it out during the Wedgeford Trials, a local contest that people travel far and wide to attend. Will Chloe be able to put down her clipboard long enough to hear what Jeremy is saying to her? Will Jeremy fess up about who he really is and what he wants? Will Chloe's father kill Jeremy with increasingly potent and spicy food? The Good: This was completely refreshing! There was no "dark moment" in the book, just internal conflict. I also adored learning more about a different culture throughout instead of the normal, sorry--bland, backdrop of a Regency or Victorian set in England. I felt like I learned something as well as enjoyed a sweet and spicy romance. It's charming. The Bad: I thought their first sex scene was funny but could have been hotter. And if that's the worst part of the book, it's a really good book.
Courney Milan has created a wonderful setting for this new series. Wedgeford is a small town, owned by an invisible Duke, that is made up of mostly Chinese residents but is open to all. Every year, they host a Festival that brings in people from all over England. One of those people is Jeremy Wu (aka Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing). He first escaped his home in London and his responsibilities as a British Duke at the age of 12. After that, he came every year until he was 20. Chloe Fong, lives in the village with her father where they are working on perfecting a special sauce. This is the year that their "Unnmaed Suace" will be ready to make it's debut. They hope people will come to the festival, eat the sauce and love it so much they will keep asking for more. The love story between Jeremy and Chloe has grown since they were children through this current festival but will Chloe be able to accept the fact that Jeremy is actually the Duke who owns the town. Mixing Chinese customs with a wonderful story of love and acceptance the Happily Ever After is well worth the wait - for all parties involved.
There is not a Courtney Milan novel that I actively dislike, but this one was just okay. I appreciated the homage to ethnic diversity and I liked Jeremy and Chloe, but it didn't all come together for me. The plot was slow, and Jeremy reminded me so much of Sebastian from The Countess Conspiracy in his kindness and humor... except that he wasn't quite as wonderful as Sebastian, perhaps because I didn't feel the connection between J and Chloe as much as I had that between S and Violet. (I know that sounds like a silly criticism but for me those echoes of Sebastian Malheur were really quite distracting!).
So yes...while I enjoyed reading The Devil Comes Courting, and readily acknowledge that it was better than much out there in Romancelandia right now, I was not riveted.
I bought it (rec'd by Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels who is responsible in large part for my weeping VISA card), I read it, I loved it. This book is nominally about two characters who were in love and failed entirely to use their words until finally they do. It's also about food. Wonderful, luscious food. But it's mainly about love, and a dad who enforces his will on a would-be suitor to his daughter with serious heavy spices. The summary's already been written by others in more detail, but I just adored the whole thing. I read it slowly because Milan's prose is always worth lingering over, even as I wish strongly in a few parts to smack both characters around. A lot. But they finally got their brains on, and everything was happy.