20 January 2014

Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

The Castles Ever After series is centered around one premise: than an eccentric old man bequeathed to each of four young, women, his goddaughters, an entire castle (castle! real castle!).  In the first novel, Romancing the Duke, impoverished, orphaned Izzy Goodnight, daughter of the celebrated author of The Goodnight Tales, a fairy tale series, arrives (or, more properly, is delivered in less-than-ideal circumstances) at her newly inherited castle, Gostley Castle, in Northumberland.  This is her last, best hope to keep a roof over her head.  The castle, surprisingly, is inhabited.  Not by a prince, but by a rough, growling, reclusive male who claims to be Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury.  Incidentally, he claims to be the owner of Izzy's castle.

"Oh, dear.  She did have such a weakness for a pair of well-traveled boots.  They made her desperate to know everywhere they'd been."

Izzy and Ransom begin a very delicate dance to negotiate who actually owns the castle.  And who lives there.  And who will discover whose secrets first.  Izzy has a fabulous one, Ransom's has more to do with his male ego.  As a stop-gap, Izzy begins working as a secretary of-sorts for Ransom.  Since he was blinded through injury, he has holed up in his castle and ignored the world.  Izzy brings the world to him.  Literally.  Fans of her father's Goodnight Tales follow Izzy to Gostley Castle and nothing is the same again.

Romancing the Duke doesn't sparkle quite like the final novel in the Spindle Cove series (quite literally, since Pauline had a run-in with a sugar bin in Any Duchess Will Do) but that doesn't make it any less witty or swoony. It's a little bit Beauty and the Beast and a little bit King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and quite funny in places.  Romancing the Duke focuses on the power of belief and fairy tales and dreams - there are Regency cosplayers, y'all. I can't wait to see what stories we get for the other three Castles.

If you read the "impossible/ridiculous sex scenes" post from Smart Bitches a few weeks ago, you will almost die laughing about a certain sex position that is awkward. And someone mentions chickens, chickens, chickens, chickens. And there's an ermine (ok, the ermine isn't an euphemism, it's a real ermine).

Loved it.

Dear FTC: I received a DRC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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