Book 2 of the Romance of the Turf series!
I HAVE BEEN WAITING (mostly) patiently for this book for (checks calendar) FOR OVER A YEAR.
The heroine of this book is Kate, a daughter of the Chandler family. We met them in the series intro novella, The Sport of Baronets ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). She’s been widowed for two years, and the marriage wasn’t great. Her husband, an Irish earl, spent money like there was no tomorrow, and also fucked around.
The hero is Evan Rhys, a Welsh archeologist who specializes in spotting forgeries. Also, he was Kate’s husband’s best friend, but also has been in love with Kate since the beginning.
Things I liked: I liked Evan. I liked how excited he was about digging up old artifacts and how he would notice things, like, “I know that this is forgery just by looking at it, but I need a second to process why I know that.” My mind works like that sometimes, and it’s fun to see specific aspects of yourself in a book.
I also liked that he clearly had some low-key depression. It didn’t prevent him from living his life, but he described it as this grayness that just is there all the time. And Magic Va-JayJay doesn’t fix it; it’s part of him. It’s not the most important part of him, but it’s been there his entire life.
I liked Kate and how she is clearly in the later stages of navigating grief, learning how to define her life now that her official mourning is over. Her husband died in a riding accident, so her relationship with horses – especially as pertains to her children – is now a lot more complex. She also has a very difficult mother-in-law and I was very entertained at her tactics for dealing with her.
Things I liked a lot less: the hero has been in love with the heroine for as long as he’s known her. I think Romain took a lot of care to make sure that Evan was mostly in a que-sera-sera state of mind, especially when Kate was married to his BFF. He also didn’t really spend his time hoping after she was widowed that if he put enough kindness coins in, the sex would fall out. Hell, he avoided her for years because he didn’t want to fall into that trap, and even after they reconnect, he’s a little hesitant about the subject.
Personally, I find that “I’ve loved you the WHOLE TIME” is a difficult subset of the friends to lovers trope for me. Even when it’s handled delicately, I get uncomfortable. It’s too easy to fall into “I deserve to be let out of the Friendzone!” with it. Your milage, of course, may vary.
Horse racing, both on the flat and as a steeplechase, did not factor in as much as I wanted. But there is a very silly horse who likes playing games!
This is one of those series that does have a C-plot that weaves through the books, so it does help to have read the previous book. The stand-alone novella introduces the families, and A Gentleman’s Game introduces the the C-plot. It’s been over a year since I read A Gentleman’s Game (and kind of a LOT has happened in that year), so I had some trouble remembering exactly what was going on and what I should already know about this particular thing. While you can enjoy the main crux of this book without the background knowledge, I do suggest reading these in order (and not just because I adored A Gentleman’s Game but I DID).
This is another offering from one of my favorite authors, with one of my favorite topics, and one of my least favorite sub-tropes. In the saga of the families of the Romance of the Turf, though, it’s solid.
This book is available from:
Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain
July 1, 2017
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