Romancing the Duke
Narrator: Carmen Rose
Series: Castles Ever After #1
Release date: January 28th 2014
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Length: 9 hours
Add to TBR: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon UK | The Book Depository | Kobo | Audible
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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?
The Faerie Queen’s review
It was about damn time I delved into the Tessa Dare back catalogue. I love her Girl Meets Duke books, after all. And I know I should have really gone back into the Spindle Cove series, but Romancing the Duke popped up in Libby when I was looking for romance audiobooks (audiobooks are so much easier to digest in a pandemic). Also, multiple people have recommended the third book in the Castles Ever After series, When a Scot Ties the Knot, but I don’t like starting mid-series if I can help it. So I borrowed this first book and got stuck in.
Ok, so this here book has a “plain Jane” heroine and a visually impaired hero. HOW FORTUNATE. I loved them together anyway. Izzy was very practical and very stubborn, with no resources but this dilapidated castle she’d inherited. Ransom was your usual grumpy hero, but he had been spurned and then injured to such as extent that he was effectively blind. Both believed they were unattractive, and yet they found each other beautiful. happy sigh
These two had perfect chemistry right from the beginning, when Izzy showed up at the castle to find it inhabited. They pushed each other, teased each other, bantered, and lusted. I laughed out loud at times, while holding my breath at others when the heat between them turned way up. Izzy helped Ransom out of his shell, while Ransom also helped Izzy feel desirable as well as gave her support for her own future ventures.
I picked up on a hint of Beauty and the Beast in this story. Beauty comes to the castle and finds a grumpy man. She strikes a deal to help him get his house in order, all while (unbeknownst to him) there’s a big deadline looming on the horizon, threatening his future and his title. The only big difference is that instead of attacking him out of fear, the townspeople prove to be helpful.
Izzy’s background was particularly fascinating. As the daughter of a famous children’s author – and the star of his stories – she’s forever playing a part to anyone who happens to know of her dad’s stories. Which is almost everyone… except, of course, Ransom. Reading how everyone acted towards her, I kept thing “haha this is so ridiculous, why do they do this”, but then I thought……….we all do this to celebrities. We equate them with the characters they play, we want to talk to them about their roles/books/etc. This is Ye Olde Fandom Culture. So I could absolutely believe Izzy’s experiences, as well as the comfort she took in Ransom’s lack of interest in the stories. I loved her “army” though, especially how the fans showed up when needed. And I especially loved how the stories panned out!
I’ve read a few other reviews, and other readers got a very different vibe from Izzy than I did, calling her silly and “bordering on manic pixie dream girl”. I wonder if this was due to the medium, as she didn’t seem that way to me at all in the audiobook. Carmen Rose did a wonderful job bringing Izzy to life, and the way she read Izzy was a very calm, practical, and determined woman. I’d love to know what others think about this.
All in all, a delightful read, and I’ll be continuing with this series and this author for more humour, spice, and petticoats.