I wasn't in love with this book. No really, it was just a good way to pass the time. I wasn't in love with it; the characters were just passing amusement.
In their first meeting, with the impossible
Jane, both Oliver and Jane are playing a game. It's not a particularly fun game for anyone involved, but they each have their mission and meaning. And Oliver has...empathy. EMPATHY. And that lead to understanding and friendship. And people not being alone. And...love.
I said the [b:The Duchess War|13489919|The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1)|Courtney Milan|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1363009176s/13489919.jpg|19028791] was largely about moments for me. This book, even with its great moments, was largely about connections. The "keep talking," the "you are not alone," and the understanding they each have those people they would do anything for. That Oliver thought Jane impossible for him, but loved her anyway added to the tension and the sorrow in the book--at times, it was killing me. Ambition, see, is a tricky thing. It's difficult for me to understand, it comes at so much cost, and Oliver has ambition--and this is an issue. He needs a presentable wife. And Jane is anything but. "I could never forgive myself if I asked you to extinguish your fire."
And Jane is so impossibly relatable. “I am,” she said swiftly, “stubborn, argumentative, and…and he fears, considering my birth, potentially licentious.” She didn’t look up at him to see how he would take this. She probably shouldn’t have told him that. What he would think…
There was a pause. “Lovely. My favorite kind of woman.”
“You’re very droll.”
“Was I joking?” He held up his hands. “I wasn’t joking.”
Yet somehow it was not easy to forgive the tender, compassionate, loyal and sweet-talking Oliver his honesty and choices with Jane, because she's Jane.
I don't have another way to explain this smart, relatable, too-forward, socially awkward, loyal, protective, fierce heroine. Or there, I guess I do.
But surely, Oliver wasn't in love
with her. Surely not. (One of these days, I would love to catalog all those excuses. I wasn't in love with them. Really, I wasn't.)
But you know what else I love, and I tried to remember to point out a moment similar to this one in [b:Beginner's Luck|35717661|Beginner's Luck|Kate Clayborn|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1500650717s/35717661.jpg|57220819] and failed, mostly because my reviews are on-the-fly, when Oliver shows up for Jane, riding away on horseback is uncomfortable, unromantic, and not smooth at all. Authentic moments like that in a novel really make a difference for me. There's leaping to the rescue in an inhuman yet entirely sexy way, and then there's this. Being human. Being fallible, and having your butt fall asleep and realizing that a man's thighs are damned uncomfortable.
Jane's bold even if it's not for her own good, true to herself even if it means disappointing others. There's so much to love about this flawed heroine, and a sharp tongue is definitely one of them. "If you want a wren, marry one. Don't ask me."
(Sidenote: parts of this scene were SO relatable for me, they were entirely too painful. Jane's lucky to have Oliver and I'm lucky too)
And what a perfect grand gesture at the end.