It’s the tale as old as time- boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy disappears for three years. Of course, it’s a little more complicated, seeing as the boy never told the girl he was a duke, and the girl rejected a kiss from the boy before he vanished ... The book was also surprisingly funny, which was very enjoyable to read. It’s not exactly a plot-heavy story – it’s very much character-driven – but the two characters it so heavily leans on are very strong ... Overall, The Duke Who Didn’t is a whimsical, fun read that any lover of historical romance and light-hearted love stories will devour in one sitting.
The Duke Who Didn’t is a complete delight ... Chloe YiLin Fong is a character after my own heart ... The Duke Who Didn’t also has a lot to say about the experience of being an immigrant, of being the child of immigrants, and of being seen as a foreigner in one’s own country ... The story also delights in waltzing right up to classic romance genre tropes and then either subverting them or fulfilling them in the most upside-down way possible ... This is a story about love, and family, and finding ways to grow into yourself, without being defined by the expectations of people who can’t see you properly. But above all, it’s a book about sharing burdens – about not having to do everything yourself and not having to be perfect in order to be loved.
As major publishing houses still are testing the waters of how to deliver diverse historical romance, Milan does much to push the sub-genre forward in this regard ... there’s a sense of liberation and resiliency that bleeds from every page. There’s no fear here of tempering this to meet outdated expectations, only a fierce love for the culture on unabashed display. This is conveyed in every inch of the text, from Milan’s mouthwatering descriptions of food that contribute to a key aspect of the plot to how the characters assess and claim their version of what it means to be British. These questions of identity are the novel’s strongest suit, as the romance is just all too amiable. Romance readers taste range from fluffy to angsty, but The Duke Who Didn’t plays with structure, avoiding conflict with a studied determination ... With The Duke Who Didn’t Milan takes a massive swing on multiple fronts, with some hits and some misses, still ending with a respectable batting average overall.