"[Hall] crafts some of the most sparkling prose in contemporary romance. . . . we give this fully baked concept our highest compliments."—Entertainment Weekly on Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
"Hall does it again with this scrumptious, quietly subversive rom-com again . . . Hilarious, heartwarming, and grounded, Rosaline's story proves that happy endings look different from person to person."—Publishers Weekly on Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
"Hall seamlessly combines humor, romance, and drama to create a story that is intimately believable and at once cozy and sexy. . . . The book combines sweet escapism and poignant cultural touchstones with well-crafted characters and hilariously familiar settings. Hall does it again with this culturally relevant, wonderfully escapist foray into the baking world. This is a must-buy for any library."—Library Journal on Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
As he has proven in his winning contemporary romances, Hall (Boyfriend Material) is a brilliant draftsman, with a top-of-class ability to fashion deeply immersive settings and vibrantly engaging characters. In this Regency-set wonder of a book, he draws readers into a world coping with the bloody terror of Waterloo. Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood, searched in vain among the dead and dying to find his best friend, only to return home wounded in body and soul, facing a bleak existence he deadens with too much drink and laudanum. Viola Carroll escapes the killing fields as a trans woman with a new life, one she pays for by the loss of Justin. When circumstances place the two together, Justin is instantly bound again to Viola and slowly imagines a future for them that she fears impossible. With secondary characters that sparkle as vividly as Viola and Justin and through achingly wonderful dialogue, deftly crafted scenes, and a tender story arc that leads readers deep into a fabulous HEA, Hall evokes a jumble of literary lineages, from Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde to Lisa Kleypas and Erica Ridley. VERDICT Don't miss this. Consider it essential for opening-day collections.—Neal Wyatt
A second chance for a duke and his best friend.
The Battle of Waterloo changed Viola Carroll’s life, because everyone believes she died there. In fact, after recovering from her wounds, she made the bold decision to walk away from her inheritance and her title and into a new life: She was finally free to live as a woman. Unbeknownst to her, however, her best friend’s life was also changed by the loss of the friend he thinks he left on the battlefield. Justin de Vere, Duke of Gracewood, hides in the country, debilitated by symptoms of PTSD, terrible war injuries, and an addiction to laudanum and alcohol. His would be a solitary life except that he still serves as his sister Miranda’s guardian. When Miranda writes to Lady Marleigh, Viola’s sister-in-law, describing her brother’s decline over the past two years, Lady Marleigh decides that she and Viola (who now serves as her paid companion) must go save Miranda. Viola is terrified to travel, not only because Gracewood thinks his best friend is dead, but also because he’s never known her as a woman. When they arrive, Gracewood is depressed, drunk, and doesn’t realize he already knows Viola, so she agrees when Lady Marleigh suggests she try to help him get better. From their respective hiding places, Viola and Gracewood find they share an undeniable connection; eventually Gracewood realizes he’s known Viola his whole life, and the best friends begin to fall in love despite the complications. Author Hall is a consistently beautiful writer, but this story, the first in a new series, may be his best yet. The plot elegantly balances period details and classic tropes to create a queer love story with a pitch-perfect blend of reality and hope. Though the steamy intimate scenes are electric, the story’s momentum comes not from Viola and Gracewood’s slow burn but from the genuine emotional connections among a full cast of charming characters. Despite the centering of Viola and Gracewood’s love story, this is a book that celebrates the many ways people love and are loved. The story is complex and long but never lags, and readers will be glued to the book through the satisfying epilogue. As a bonus, Hall also wrote the funny, insightful discussion questions at the back, allowing readers space to dwell a bit longer on the story.
A groundbreaking and excellent queer historical romance.