Dr. Rhys Gray and Miss Margaret Babcock are friends—strictly friends. But over the course of the year, as they exchange dozens of letters, they share personal details that put them on the path to something more. When Dr. Gray helps Margaret realize her dearest dream and she comes to his defense in the uproar that follows, it seems that their connection cannot be denied. But will their relationship stand the scruples of society and jealous intendeds, or are they destined to be only friends, and nothing more?
It should have been the perfect time for me to read this novel – I just finished a spate of heavy non-fiction and dearly needed some romance in my reading life. But try as I might, I kept getting pulled out of the story.
First, the good:
- The plot has some nice twists and turns to it.
- The book starts off with letters, yea! Not enough to call it epistolary, but I like it all the same.
- The heroine is unconventional (super tall, not super pretty) but the hero loves her just the way she is.
- The pose on the cover is from a scene in the book and is fitting. Even the fact that she’s not wearing a corset is explained, woah.
And now, the not-so-good:
- I never felt like I was in the Regency. The language is a little too modern, societal customs and expectations are bent a little too much, and I found a medical tidbit that, while not wrong, is unlikely. It felt like a wallpaper romance when I prefer something more of the period. (For more about wallpaper romances check out this article at Smart Bitches Trashy Books, where I totally agree with Candy.)
- Noble made her chops as a TV writer and it shows. There were a ton of scenes that are meant to be seen, not read. We meet Rhys’ large extended family in a whirlwind, with each person passing through the foyer of the home. It would be perfect on TV – you could see the trouble making 12-year old bounding up the stairs, the sister too engrossed in her book to noticed Rhys has arrived, and so on. But on the page it’s a tangled lump of spaghetti, with no means or end. Here’s another example: Margaret’s friend is with her on the second floor, telling her about the suitors that are being turned away at the door.
“Oh! There’s one!” Sylvia cried. “He’s wearing a gray coat and hat. And . . . he’s knocking . . . and the butler is telling him you are not receiving today.” She pushed closer to the window, her nose almost touching. “He’s taking off the hat . . . decently good looking, although his chin in a little weak.”
If I make a rectangle with my fingers all director-like I can see it – how the shot would be framed, how good it would look. But it wasn’t satisfying on the page.
- Because of the above I started skimming parts, and I didn’t feel like I missed anything. Eep.
- While there were seeds of conflict it didn’t drive the story until the very very end.
So despite having the outward appearance of being just what I needed, The Dare and the Doctor… wasn’t.
Thanks to Pocket Books and NetGalley for providing a review copy.
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