RogerBW's Blog

The Dare and the Doctor, Kate Noble 08 January 2019

2016 American Regency romance, third and last of a linked series. Dr Gray conducts an academic correspondence with Miss Babcock, whom he met in passing during the events of the previous book. But when she comes to London to show off her hybrid rose, will they recognise their feelings for each other, or will societal pressures get in the way?

Well, yes, obviously there's no tension in the simple answer to that question. What's uncertain, as in most romances, is how the couple will be brought to a happy ending, and what they may have to give up on the way. Dr Gray is given a large group of siblings and a ne'er-do-well father, and a complicated family situation involving a betrothal that everyone's been expecting for years even if he hasn't ever formally committed himself to it. (And perhaps a sign of a series that's gone on a little longer than planned? In the previous book he was a doctor who had "attended the Queen", but here that's carefully explained as a one-off event that's not a regular part of his life, so as to make him more relatable.)

There are the usual quirks and oddities that one expects from an American Regency; here they include an aristocratic mother being constantly involved in the raising of her baby, a family meal including children down to age four, and upper-crust English people called things like Jubilee, Delilah and Benjamin. But, as in the earlier books I've read by this author, it's worth persisting in spite of the stumbles, both because they're not critical to the plot and because of the way she works everything round her principal characters. I've read two other novels and one novella by Noble, and in no case could the protagonists be exchanged; never mind their social positions, they're different people with different personalities and goals for their lives.

I'll admit that I could have used fewer distractions from the main story, but the book still holds together (even if Gray is the Best Doctor Ever because he's noticed the link between clean surgical tools and patient survival) and the resolution is highly satisfying.

This is the end of this series; all the books can stand alone, though there are some looks at the continuing lives of the couples from the earlier stories. I'm distinctly tempted to try to find some of Noble's earlier work.

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