Genius mathematician, Lydia Craven, was rather smitten by the handsome Dr. Jacob Linley upon their first meeting four years ago. But after overhearing the good doctor say he wasn't the least bit interested in her, she turned her attention fully on her mathematical computations. Ever since then, she and Jake have been like oil and water, always arguing about one thing or another when they're in shared company, leaving Lydia believing he doesn't care for her at all. Having calculated the odds of finding true love and discovering them to be abysmal, Lydia has decided she'd rather marry a man who shares her intellectual interests rather than waiting for something that might never happen. When Jake kisses her on the night of her engagement party, it stirs a passion she's never felt before, though she thinks he's merely toying with her. But when they accidentally get locked in a wine cellar together on the eve of her wedding, confessions are made and real sparks fly. Has Lydia finally found the elusive love she's been longing for?
"Against the Odds" was an excellent wrap-up to Lisa Kleypas' Gambers of Craven's series, making it a perfect sweep of five-star reads. In it, we have Dr. Jacob Linley, a long-time secondary character in some of her other books paired with Lydia Craven, oldest daughter of the legendary Derek Craven and the love of his life, Sara Fielding. Jake and Lydia have known each other for four years, but neither of them knows of the mutual attraction between them. Lydia thinks Jake doesn't care for her at all, and so has sets her sights on a very practical match with a man who shares her interests in math and science, but there's no love or real passion there. Jake at first avoided Lydia because of her age and then because of her choice to marry another man. Every time they were together, they only seemed to light each other's fuses, leading to a great deal of conflict. But on the eve of her wedding, Lydia and Jake find themselves locked in the wine cellar and a fuse of an entirely different sort is lit.
Ever since meeting Dr. Jacob Linley in Ms. Kleypas' Bow Street Runners series, I've been looking forward to him getting his own story, and he certainly didn't disappoint here. I adore him for being a simple man with simple tastes, who genuinely enjoys helping people. It makes him a great doctor, but his profession isn't without its pitfalls. A man with a heart as passionate as Jake's counts every loss with pain. He's also a very giving, loving, gentle man who leans a bit more toward the beta side of the romance hero spectrum than most Lisa Kleypas heroes. He's scared to death of Lydia's father, Derek, but not enough to let it stop him from facing the man with courage when he needs to.
I loved Lydia. She's the perfect geek girl, a brilliant mathematician and scientist, who's obsessed with her scholarly pursuits and always calculating some formula or another. I have no doubt that Ms. Kleypas patterned her after the real-life Ada Lovelace, who lived around the same time. Lydia both physically and mentally resembles the renowned countess who was known for her contributions to mathematics and computing. Lydia is so logical that she's computed her chances of finding true love to be so slim that she feels a match with a man who shares her intellectual pursuits is the best course of action, but she didn't count on finding out that Jake has actually been in love with her since the day they met.
The romance between Jake and Lydia is sweet and emotional. Them knowing one another for years and holding a secret tenderness for one another during that time, despite their bickering, made the rapid turnaround much more believable. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Sara and Derek again, as well. When their book ended, Lydia was their only child, but they've since had a bunch more. It was wonderful to see them still so much in love after twenty years together. Sara gets a couple of scenes from her POV, and she's determined to make sure all her children find loves as true as hers. "Against the Odds" was just an all-around wonderful story that was a perfect read. "Against the Odds" can be found in the anthology, Where's My Hero?
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