Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

romancing the dukeRomancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (Castles Ever After #1)
Released: January 28, 2014
Historical Romance

Reviewed by May

When Papa overspent their income, and the maid was dismissed, she told herself the drudgery would pay off someday. Everyone knew that Cinderella had to scrub the floors before she could win the handsome prince.

Isolde Ophelia Goodnight, daughter of a famed author who recently passed away and doesn’t know where she will live or how she will survive. Until, that is, she receives a letter from her godfather’s solicitor telling her that she’s been left a castle in his will.

Her cravings for romance were gone. Now she’d settle for bread. What fairy tales were left over for a plain, impoverished, twenty-six-year-old woman who’d never even been kissed?

Little does she know that a very hostile man and his large dog already reside at this castle – and that they have no idea it’s been sold let alone given to her.

“She can’t have it,” he said. “She can’t live in it. She can’t clean it up to sell.” He pounded one fist against his chest, and the small hairs on Izzy’s arms lifted. “I am Ransom William Dacre Vane, the eleventh Duke of Rothbury. This is my castle.”

Izzy and Ransom are in for quite the adventure together as they face off, attempt to live under the same crumbling roof, and sort out what is going on with Ransom’s solicitors who seem to be mis-managing his finances and taking advantage of his current state. Ransom doesn’t expect Izzy to stand up to him, get right in his face, and fight back. Neither does Izzy expect to find the attraction and connection to any man – let alone this striking duke with the mysterious past and injuries he’s clearly still recovering from.

I love how the author shows us that while angry, loud, and exceptionally unfriendly Ransom is not the heartless villain that he wants everyone to think he is. His pride wounded, his face scarred and his vision impaired, he just wants to be left alone in his castle.

There was exactly one reason his blood was pounding, and it had nothing to do with “please.” It had to do with “yes” and “God, yes” and “just like that, but harder.”

Yet instead of scaring her off that first day he hires her on as his secretary so that she can sort through his correspondence and help him figure out how and why his solicitors are mismanaging his financial affairs. Ransom is curious about he and the more he gets to know her, the more he wants to.

In all his years of bedding women by night, Ransom made certain he never woke up with them in the morning. Now he was waking up tot his woman – this strange, eccentric, tempting woman – every morning, and he wasn’t even getting the pleasure of bedding her first.

It was intolerable. Unjust. And very worrisome. Because he was starting to grow accustomed to her.

Damn, he was starting to like her. It felt so easy, sitting here, wreathed in the aromas of tea and morning mist.

I really loved the inclusion of some details about the epic story/fairy tale series that Izzy’s father is famous for as well as how the legions of fans play into the story. The comparison to Izzy’s real life, and the added layers it gives to this story as well as the mood that it helps set in this story was lovely. I mean we are talking about a duke in a crumbling castle and a penniless plain heroine who shows up unannounced. Not exactly believable and yet, it completely works.

I think the tone of the writing (which is flawless, marvelous, utterly a joy to read!) manages to be both believable and have that mist-shrouded element of fairy godmothers and perfect romance. As I write this review I have ended up re-reading this book and finding more bits. More details. More care in the crafting of this story and every element that makes it one of Dare’s finest novels. There are so many things both tiny and large that come together in such a fantastic way. Indeed it is done in a way that has a tenderness to it as well as humor and heat. Oh, she brings the heat.

“You have no idea.” He leaned close. The heat of his breath rushed over her ear. “You have no idea how tempted I am to ruin you. Right here and now. The revenge would be so damned sweet. England’s precious little innocent, spreading her thighs so wide for my cock.”

I really liked how these characters get to know each other and find in the most unlikely pairing their perfect match. They don’t play games with each other or send messages through other people. Instead, they are so very honest with each other and that really was special. Also: hot.

“I’m a woman. A woman who’s inconveniently, completely, and for the first time in her life, in lust. Just burning with desire for the worst possible man. A profane, bitter, wounded duke who refuses to leave her house. Oh, you are dreadful.”

“And you want my hands on your body.”

A faint whimper escaped her throat. “Everywhere.”

Her father’s fans adore “little Izzy” and treat her as if she was still a child, but it is clear that this life wasn’t the fairytale they seem to think. She tries to make the best of things, and to stay positive when others might complain. I love this about her so much, and it really made her a good contrast and match for Ransom who needs to see more positive, and who has become self-absorbed and simply wallows in his own pain and wounded pride.

“Every time you wake up, you let fly the most marvelous string of curses. It’s never the same twice, do you know that? It’s so intriguing. You’re like a rooster that crows blasphemy.”

I could continue to share with you quotes that are tender, dirty, funny, or a combination of the three. I could carry on telling you all the reasons I love this story. I’m not going to though, because I think this is one you need to read for yourself. I have not shared many of the details and elements intentionally – you’re really going to have to read for yourself. This book is already in my top books for 2014. This new series of Tessa Dare’s is off to an amazing start!

Grade: A

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