The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Let’s say you work at a largish small company. Like 80 employees. And in a different division is a woman named Samantha. You bump into her in the office kitchen a couple of times as she’s making her Earl Gray. She wears cute tights. You like her bangs. You begin to look out for her – maybe see if she wants to walk to the coffee shop together. Start eating your lunches together while you talk about your favorite podcasts. This goes on for a few months. You don’t see Samantha outside of work. You don’t even have her cell phone number. One day at lunch Samantha tells you she’s met a guy – let’s call him Ed. She went to a house party last weekend and met a friend of a friend. She thinks it might be something. He’s got a schnauzer and wears suspenders.

And now you and Samantha are having lunch together most days of the week. And she’s telling you that he didn’t text her the night before. The next day she’s beaming over the flowers that showed up at the front desk with a card from him. A month later Samantha tells you she and Ed had a huge fight because he got nervous at dinner with her brother, drank too much, and threw up all over her Honda Accord. He’d embarrassed her, but you could understand his nerves over meeting her family. He likes her and wanted to make a good impression. You’ve never met Ed, but you like Samantha. And you know that Ed is a good guy. When Samantha comes back from a ski vacation the following Christmas wearing an engagement ring you gasp in delight and hug her in the break room.

That’s what this book was like for me. Celebrating the ups and downs of love with two sweet people who felt real. They had obstacles. They had fears and doubts. They had a realistic love that I relished watching flourish. There was some drama – all of it perfectly in keeping with the sensible vibe of the book and the characters. But what drove this story was the two wonderful, kind, flustered people coming together as they were intended. The world loves a love story – particularly one where the characters (even one that’s a Duke) feel like folks that could be sitting next to you eating egg salad while telling you about a little weekend away they’d just taken.

5 happy stars.

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