Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

Thursday, February 6

Title: Romancing the Duke*
Author: Tessa Dare
Series:  Castles Ever After #1
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
Format:  Paperback, ebook
Date/Year: Jan 28, 2014
Reviewed by:  Blue

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

In the first in Tessa Dare's captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens.  She never doubted romance would be in her future, too.  The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off.  One by one by one.
  • Ugly duckling turned swan? 
  • Abducted by handsome highwayman? 
  • Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and... Heh.

Now Izzy's given up yearning for romance.  She'll settle for a roof over her head.  What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who's never even been kissed?

This one.

My Musings:

Ransom Vane, The Duke of Rothbury has been living a reclusive life for the past seven months, hiding out in one of his remote estates, Gostley Castle.  This former arrogant rake was scarred and nearly blinded as he pursued his runaway fiancee, believing she was being abducted rather than leaving him of her own free will.  Now his pride won't let him show himself in society again.  He plans to stay in solitude, in his run down castle.  His solitude is interrupted by the appearance of a girl, who tells him she is supposed to meet a Lord Archer there, to find out about a bequest left to her by her godfather.

Isolde "Izzy" Goodnight is famous for being the little girl in the wildly popular "Goodnight Tales" penned by her father for over a decade.  Though she is now twenty six, she still has a large following of fans who love her.  But her father's recent death has left her destitute and homeless.  She receives word that her godfather has also died, and has left her a bequest.  She is to meet Lord Archer at Gostley Castle to receive it.  Hoping that the bequest is enough for her to live on, she spends the last of her money to travel to the castle.

Lord Archer informs Izzy that her bequest IS the castle itself.  This does not sit well with Ransom, as he is the owner, and he is living there.  But Lord Archer has legal papers, and until things are sorted out, Izzy is not leaving.  It appears that in Ransom's absence from town, his solicitors have been steadily stealing from him, and have illegally sold his home.

Izzy has long since given up her dreams of love and her own family.  She is plain, and has never had a suitor.  Yet, she stands up to the Duke, offering to let him stay at the castle if he pays rent.  When he steals a kiss, she tells him that it's her first kiss and he had better do it again and get it right, the way she dreamed.  When Ransom holds her, all he is able to see is a cloud of dark hair, and her red lips.  He finds her beautiful, and tells her so.  They eventually become lovers, but they have a lot to work through for their happy ending.

Before his injury, Ransom was not a very good person.  He had no close friends, was very arrogant, and did not believe in love.  We later learn that he didn't feel worthy of love, and the reason why is a sad story indeed.   Now, though, he proves himself to be a knight in shining armor.  Also coming to the rescue is a legion of fans of the Goodnight Tales, calling themselves the Moranglian Order.  This was so well done, being fun and whimsical, without being ridiculous.  (It reminded me of devoted fans dressing up and attending a Trekkie convention in today's world.)

This book had it all - wonderful protagonists, a unique story, humor, romance, some steamy scenes, and a very well done happy ending.  I loved these two characters.   I finished ROMANCING THE DUKE with a smile and a sigh, and I know this will be one of my favorites of this year.  This is the first book in a new series, Castles Ever After, in which Izzy's godfather bequeathed castles to several of his  goddaughters.  I can't wait!

Highly recommended.


Overall:  5 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5

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