Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham for as long as she can remember. Literally. A mere six months old when the contracts were signed, she has spent the rest of her life waiting. And waiting. And waiting...for Thomas Cavendish, the oh-so-lofty duke, to finally get around to marrying her. But as she watches him from afar, she has a sneaking suspicion that he never thinks about her at all...
It's true. He doesn't. Thomas rather likes having a fiancee-all the better to keep the husband-hunters at bay-and he does intend to marry her...eventually. But just when he begins to realize that his bride might be something more than convenient, Thomas's world is rocked by the arrival of his long-lost cousin, who may or may not be the true Duke of Wyndham. And if Thomas is not the duke, then he's not engaged to Amelia. Which is the cruelest joke of all, because this arrogant and illustrious duke has made the mistake of falling in love...with his fiancee!
Ah, Julia Quinn. You know, I actually became acquainted with her writing with The Lost Duke of Wyndham, the first book in this duology. And that's when I fell in love with this wonderful, fantastic writer.
MC, IP, actually takes place at the exact same time as TLDoW, but told from the POV of Thomas and Amelia. And amazingly enough, it didn't confuse me in the least! How's that for amazing writing?! Usually, in circumstances like this, it's either very confused or makes no sense. Here's to Ms. Quinn's talents that that didn't happen at all.
At the beginning of the story, Thomas arrives at a country dance that his grandmother browbeat him into attending. He goes because he feels he has no choice and is expected to dance with his fiancee just like he does at every dance they both attend.
Amelia, on the other hand, is fed up with being the long-standing fiancee of a man who barely even acknowledges her existence, let alone the fact that they are to get married. Everything changes the night of the dance. Instead of saying yes like she usually does when he asks her to dance, she says no. One step towards independence! Yay!
Thomas is shocked by this completely unexpected turn of events and finally realizes that the woman he's been engaged to since he was seven years old, actually has a backbone. There's the obligatory a-ha moment (as there is in every romance), where he notices that she's a woman. And it's about time.
Things progress, she leaves and then everything changes.
As we found out in TLDoW, Thomas's future becomes unclear when his cousin Jack is found and forced into the family fold. Thomas's whole life has been dedicated to being the Duke of Wyndham, and in fact, that is what he bases his identity on. The idea of losing everything he holds dear and himself is almost more than he can bear...at first.
It is so fascinating to watch how Thomas and Amelia's romance progresses. They become friends first, which is something I really appreciate. There's no groping (well, a little bit) and it's quite entertaining to watch Amelia rip him a new one, especially when he deserves it.
It's also interesting to watch the romance between Jack and Grace grow via other perspectives.
Knowing what happens to Thomas, makes it especially interesting to see how he handles it all. In some aspects, he's almost a martyr, because he makes a really stupid decision when it comes to Amelia that could have ruined the entire story. Thankfully, he redeems himself, but it was still a head-banging moment for me.
And it's been said by numerous people that JQ is the queen of phenomenal dialogue. I'd like to share just a bit with you, to showcase this woman's talent. This is as they are on their way to Ireland. Thomas has come across Amelia on the boat and after apologizing about previous foot-in-mouth syndrome, they proceed to have this really amazing conversation. I'm dropping you right in the midst of it, but whatever. :~D
"We could have been friends," she heard herself say.
"Would," she corrected, and she was smiling. It seemed the most amazing thing. How was it possible she had anything to smile about? "I think we would have been friends, if not for...If all this..."
"If everything were different?"
"Yes. No. Not everything. Just...some things." She began to feel lighter. Happier. And she had not the slightest clue why. "Maybe if we'd met in London."
"And we hadn't been betrothed?"
She nodded. "And you hadn't been a duke."
His brows rose.
"Dukes are very intimidating," she explained. "It would have been so much easier if you hadn't been one."
"And your mother had not been engaged to my uncle," he added.
"If we'd just met."
"No history between us."
His brows rose and he smiled. "If I'd seen you across a crowded room?"
"No, no, nothing like that." She shook her head. He was not getting this at all. She wasn't talking about romance. She couldn't bear to even think of it. But friendship...that was something else entirely. "Something far more ordinary," she said. "If you'd just sat next to me on a bench."
"Like this one?"
"Perhaps in a park."
"Or a garden," he murmured.
"You would sit down next to me-"
I won't tell you the rest of that, because it's pretty important to the story & I don't want to spoil it. Just wanted to showcase why this woman amazes me with every book she writes.
And I've got to say, there are few authors who can make me laugh out loud and then sigh with either sadness or bliss right after the other, like this writer can. :)
So, all in all, I can't recommend this book enough. And even if you haven't read TLDoW, you won't be lost. I haven't read that since it first came out and I wasn't remotely confused. Another wonderful story, by an amazing writer.
My Rating: A