Thumbs up for The Proposition by Judith Ivory. Historical romance.
Gender-swapped Pygmalion with a genial ratcatcher as a hero and an anxious, not-traditionally-attractive spinster linguist as a heroine. Extremely well-written and unique; the characters are difficult and imperfect in ways that make them feel like real people. Five stars, with a three-fourths of a star docked for the eyeroll-inducing ending and the rest of the star gone for the (unfortunately necessary) pain of trying to convey dialect in text.
Thus pursuers multiplied. Then divided—Mr. Abernathy and the waiters split up, darting round a table from two directions in an effort to corner a fellow who couldn’t be cornered: His frock coat and shirt flapping open on his bare chest, the man vaulted the dessert trolley (with nary a cream puff disturbed). Everyone in pursuit, from both sides and behind, collided at the cart—catching their prey only insofar as to spatter the backs of his leaping boots and trousers with crème anglaise. Every last pursuer went down, their limbs floundering like spatulas in a concoction of mixed pastries. As they rose, they were covered in berries, cake, cream-puff cream, and biscuit bits.
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