Six years ago Jonas Grantham watched a doctor prescribe poison to a young woman. At the time he knew it was wrong - just as the doctor's assertions of moral failings and bad miasmas also were - but he was only twenty, unqualified and had given his word he wouldn't interfere. But the encounter has haunted him ever since.
Five years later Jonas returned to Leicester to take up his medical practise and look for a wife. Lydia may have been only the eleventh prettiest unmarried girl in the city, but he was interested enough for a closer look. Except Lydia wants none of him. Because she was that young woman, and she has no time for sarcastic, blunt doctors who think badly of her.
Only Jonas doesn't think badly of her. In fact, despite more than a year of contemptuous treatment, he's actually fallen in love with her. Now all he has to do is get her to like him, and perhaps win himself a kiss... It's worth a shot. After all, since his heart is already gone, he has nothing more to lose.
This gorgeous novella is a follow-up to The Duchess War, where Lydia was the cheerful best-friend of the heroine. Jonas played only a brief but intriguing part. While it might be useful to have read that first, I don't think it's essential. All the relevant points to Lydia and Jonas' relationship are here, so you won't miss anything vital.
Jonas is an unusual hero with his blunt, slightly gloomy style, but his pursuit of Lydia is touching and even heartbreaking at times. His sarcasm and social awkwardness mask a sweet heart, most clearly seen with his helplessness towards his father. Lydia is lovely too, if a little too accomplished at self-deception. She has excellent reasons though, which have nothing to do with stupidity. The way she comes to terms with her past is quite moving.
Tender, emotional, witty and fun this novella never feels rushed or too short. It's beautifully paced, skilfully detailed and the characters are wonderful. Whether writing in long or short form, Courtney Milan is one of the best writers in this genre today and this novella just proves that she's getting even better. Indulge yourself - you won't regret it.
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