Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare


May Contain Spoilers


I haven’t read many historical romances lately, so after a seeing a lot of positive buzz for Romancing the Duke, I decided it was time to read Tessa Dare’s latest release.  I have read a couple of her books, and have enjoyed each one.  I found this one utterly charming, just like the feisty protagonist, Izzy.  I raced through, and was sorry when I reached the last page.  I really need to hit up more of Tessa Dare’s backlist.

Izzy is desperate and impoverished, which prompted her to hire a coach and head off to the remote Gostley Castle after receiving a letter that one of her father’s benefactors has left her an inheritance.  Since her father’s death, she has been barely getting by.  He died suddenly, and Izzy learns, much to her dismay, that he never bothered to update his will, so all of his possessions have been willed to her cousin.  They have hated each other since childhood, and he’s absolutely crowing that she has been left with nothing.

Rather bitter that her life’s work has been for naught, she’s angry that her father neglected to see to her welfare.  She gave up everything to assist him with the serial he wrote for the newspaper, using her as the main character.  The Goodnight Tales garnered quite a following, even after his death, and Izzy is constantly asked about them by her father’s fans.  I loved this premise-she is even followed by cos-players who are so enchanted with the story that they dress up like their favorite characters and have formed clubs to celebrate The Goodnight Tales.  If it wasn’t for their popularity, she would probably have fared even worse after her father’s demise.

After arriving at the castle, she meets grouchy Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury.  He isn’t in the mood for visitors, and he promptly attempts to chase her away from his moldering castle.  Injured in a duel, he is suffering from a disfiguring scar, as well as blindness, from the misguided fight.  He isn’t happy to have a woman in his home, and he’s even less amused when he discovers that he no longer owns his family’s estate, and that Izzy has just inherited it.  Refusing to believe it, because he would never sell Gostley Castle, they come to an agreement.  While he was licking his wounds in private, he ignored his business correspondence.  Izzy agrees to help him go through the massive pile of letters, for a fee, to see how the castle was sold.  She needs the money to fix up the pile of crumbling stone, and he needs to discover who has been cheating him out of his money and property.

I found it difficult to sympathize with Ransom at first because he brought about his own misfortune; but Izzy – Izzy!  She is the victim of an unfortunate set of circumstances that left her with nothing but the few dresses in her travel bag.  Her father was a miserable caretaker for not ensuring that she was left with the means to provide for herself after his death.  Now that she has a roof over her head, she is going to fight tooth and nail to keep it.  I loved Izzy and her attitude, and how she refused to be cowed by the gruff, angry duke who refuses to give in gracefully and accept that Izzy is now the owner of the castle.

The secondary characters are also a treat, from the cos-playing fans of The Goodnight Tales, to Izzy’s new acquaintances at the castle.  Romancing the Duke made me laugh, held me spellbound, and even made me gasp with dismay when Izzy reads a fan letter to Ransom, and discovers that The Goodnight Tales is partly responsible for his turn of poor luck.  I hated to have the book come to an end, and I am now eagerly awaiting the next book in the series,  Say Yes to the Marquess.  In the meanwhile, I will have to revisit Spindle Cove; I have a few sitting unread on my Kindle!

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

n 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.