Title: Romancing the Duke
Author: Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #1
Released: January 28, 2014
Dates Read: June 5-6, 2017
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)
Review: I read this one while I was in Orlando on vacation (along with quite a few others, which explains the delay in posting my reviews). Since I was very close to Disney World but didn’t actually get to go, I wanted to read something with a bit of a fantastical element to it–and this book certainly fit the bill.
There’s a castle, a tormented hero who tries to be harsh but just isn’t, a woman who won’t go down without a fight, and an ermine–what’s not to love?
I love fun forced-cohabitation stories. The couple is almost always together, which means there is every opportunity for great banter, and Tessa Dare delivers. There’s also the inevitability of the character’s getting to know each other better.
My favorite thing about the entire book may be the LARPers. I mean, how ridiculous is it that the fans of the book series in this novel actually dress up as the characters and show up at the castle, ready to do whatever Izzy and Ransom-as-Ulric tell them to do? Not only that, but the lengths that Ransom is willing to go to in order to protect Izzy by enlisting the LARPers for help make him so precious to me.
Another thing I love is that, when Izzy first discovers Ransom’s blindness, she finds him intriguing, rather than frightening–not really because of the scar slashed across his face, but because of the unknown story behind it. She loves stories. How could she not be intrigued by him?
Conversely, Izzy views herself as ugly, while Ransom finds the beauty in her voice and her presence. Dare brings to light how beautiful a person can be, regardless of their outside appearance. How wonderful is it to be with an average-looking person who is sweet and kind, instead of an Adonis who complains all the time and is mean to you?
- There were things in nature that took their beauty from delicate structure and intricate symmetry. Flowers. Seashells. Butterfly wings. And then there were things that were beautiful for their wild power and their refusal to be tamed. Snowcapped mountains. Churning thunderclouds. Shaggy, sharp-toothed lions (7).
- “Don’t tell me you’re one of those women with radical ideas.”
“No,” she returned. “I’m one of those women with nothing. There are a great many of us (45).”
- Izzy seemed to be blossoming, too. Her whole body felt flushed and pink. Ripe for his touch. This was her summer, after years and years of spring (189).
- “I have my mind,” she whispered. “That’s the worst part. It’s my mind that fills the darkness with horrid things. I have too much imagination.”
“Shut the door to it, then. No stories or wild tales. Concentrate only on the things you can sense. What’s in front of you?”
Her hands flattened on the linen of his shirt, light and chilled. “You are.”
“What’s to either side of you?”
“What’s behind you?”
She inhaled slowly. “Your hands. Your hands are on my back.”
He rubbed his hands up and down, warming her. “Then that’s all you need to know. I have you. If there are beasties in the dark, they have to get through me (254).”
- She couldn’t get away with this. He knew exactly what she was doing. She was putting the room to rights before she left for the evening. Making certain every chair and pillow and fireplace poker was in its place. For him. That wasn’t mere tidiness. It was understanding and thoughtfulness (268).
- “I can’t judge how beauty looks anymore,” he said. “But I know the sound of it. It sounds like a flowing river of wild, sweet honey. Beauty smells like rosemary, and it tastes of nectar. Beauty sneezes like a flea.” She smiled. That beautiful smile. How could she ever doubt her effect on him (377)?