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Book CoverVeena’s review of Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, Book 1) by Tessa Dare
Historical Romance published by Avon 28 Jan 14

Reading has always been a wonderful escape for me. I leave the real world behind for a few hours and live happily in a world where love conquers all and the characters live happily ever after.  I’ve been worried lately that  I might have over indulged because I seem to be more critical and don’t experience the same sense of pleasure and well being I used to when I came to The End, but I’m pleased to report that this delightful story seems to have reversed all my negativity and restored my faith.

Izzy has been dealt a rough turn by life. Her famous father has recently deceased and along with him the income that they lived on.  Interestingly enough, his fame came from publishing the bedtime stories that he made up for his daughter to help keep her fear of the dark at bay. Now almost destitute with no other means of support, she’s determined to make a home in the crumbling castle that she’s inherited from one of her father’s fans. Poor Izzy, nothing in her life is simple, because she finds that there’s a squatter already occupying the castle, insisting that he owns it and plans to live in it.

Ransom is one of the premier dukes of the, land but he’s been dealt his own poor hand. Almost blind and injured in body and spirit, he makes his home in the castle hiding from polite society. He’s like the proverbial beast who rescues Izzy when she faints from hunger upon arrival at the castle, like a damsel in distress, but he still insists on turning her out because he’s the rightful owner. He can’t resist her beauty and retains that elusive spark of honor which causes him to save her despite wanting her gone.

Izzy didn’t get where she is by being faint of spirit, so she enters into the fray and engages Ransom in a battle of wills to retain the castle, as well as to earn the money necessary to restore it.  Day by day, as she restores the castle and makes it more habitable, it’s like she’s breathing life back into Ransom.  She also discovers a plot against Ransom by his enemies to take over his fortune and lock him away for life.  She puts aside the knowledge that if the plot succeeds she’ll be free and clear and recruits her friends and allies to help him win the day.

There are some funny, sad moments when Izzy is trying to prove the value of love to Ransom and reads him a letter from a fan of the Goodnight stories, only to find that the letter is from Ransom’s erstwhile fiancé, whom he had selected on the basis of blood and breeding, talking about a worker on her father’s estate and his unconditional love. Poor Ransom, he’s never known love, so how can he recognize it when he first experiences it.  After having chased away all his friends and loved ones like a wounded beast, Ransom discovers the true power of love when he wants to keep Izzy safe and protected, even at the cost of his own life and sanity.

This is a straightforward romance, almost like an adult version of a fairy tale. It left me with a smile on my face and the same sense of wonder that I remember from my childhood. I am eagerly looking forward to more stories in this series.

Grade: A


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.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

Say Yes to the Marquess – late 2014