Romancing the Duke
By Tessa Dare
January 28, 2014
Isolde Ophelia Goodnight is an expert on fairy tales. After all, she is the daughter of the man famous for keeping England enthralled with tales of fair ladies, brave knights, and daring adventures. Izzy is beloved by fans as her father’s daughter and as a character in the Goodnight Tales, the emerald-eyed little girl for whose delight her loving father wove his stories. But life has taught the real Izzy that she is no Cinderella, no transformed duckling, no Sleeping Beauty. She accepted that she was meant for prosaic reality from an early age, but she didn’t expect to be left penniless after her father’s death. With no inheritance, no home, and no money, Izzy’s future looks grim. But just when all seems hopeless, her godfather dies and leaves her a castle, Gostley Castle, in Northumberland, to be precise. But even this unexpected gift comes with a problem. Izzy’s castle is occupied.
Ransom William Dacre Vane, the eleventh Duke of Rothbury, retreated to Gostley Castle, one of his many properties, following a scandal that left him scarred and blind, because it gave him the seclusion he sought. The castle is his, and he is not about to yield it to this intruder. He doesn’t expect Izzy to be a problem. He thinks one night in the decrepit castle with the bats and the ghosts will send her running. But just when his victory is assured and Izzy is retiring from the battle field to regroup, she mentions the names of his solicitors, and Rothbury realizes he has a bigger problem than his unwelcome guest. The answer is likely in the stack of correspondence he can’t read. So he hires Izzy Goodnight as his secretary, and the maiden who was too plain and poor to be a princess and the blind beast with a heart scarred more terribly than his face began a journey filled with danger, revelation, humor, fear, and passion that leads to a happily-ever-after better than a fairy tale.
Romancing the Duke introduces Tessa Dare’s new series, Castles Ever After. This novel gives a hard twist to the fairy tale and the gothic romance, using elements of both in a manner that both pays tribute and gently mocks the genres. Throw in the Moranglian Army, a Regency version of rabid fans engaged in convocation and cosplay, and the result is a wholly delightful story that is sweet, sexy, smart, funny, and definitely different. Dare proves that she belongs in that rare company of writers like Julia Quinn who create stories with humor and heart and a contagious joy that unites author, characters, and reader in a superlative reading experience.
Izzy and Ransom will make you laugh and sigh as they win your heart, and secondary characters such as the faithful Duncan, the sunny-natured Miss Pelham, and Snowdrop, the sharp-toothed ermine each add something special to the story. The book is filled with Dare’s humor that ranges from broad to subtle, and she also provides thematic richness with the blindness theme that encompasses Ransom’s physical blindness, Izzy’s blindness to her real beauty and worth, and Ransom’s insight that leads him to see an Izzy that sighted men have missed.
All this plus one of the best kissing scenes ever, a detail that will catch some readers by surprise, and a big-sigh-worthy ending. Once more Tessa Dare gives readers a story that has keeper written all over it. I highly recommend this book.
I love fairy tale romances, but my favorites usually give a twist to the traditional tale in some way. Dare gives several twists in this book. What’s your favorite fairy tale romance? Is it strictly traditional, or does it give tradition a twist?
Look for five more Super Tuesday January 28 Releases to be posted over the next several days.