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?
The story in a nutshell:
Izzy has been left alone with no money, no home, and no other prospects after the death of her famed author father. She receives a missive that tells her about an inheritance but when she arrives at Gostley Castle, she gets the surprise of a lifetime. Apparently, she now owns the castle. The problem is that the current resident, Ransom Vane, a duke who’s stint in the wars has resulted in him being almost completely blind, is also claiming ownership of the same castle. They reach an understanding with how they will go about this predicament of theirs and it requires living in the castle together, Izzy working as Ransom’s secretary, discovering the secrets of the castle and maybe possibly fixing it to meet the standards for receiving guests, among other things. So much time together have their uses and perks as well. Such close proximity is bound to get them into a lot of situations…
What worked for me?
There are so many things to love about this book. It’s a fairy tale that begins with the same old ‘once upon a time’ and ends with the same old ‘and they lived happily ever after’ but everything between those bookend phrases overcomes the stereotypes and the stigma of a classic fairy tale story and this just absolutely wins me over.
Izzy and Ransom are hardly your cookie-cutter hero and heroine and I love that they are so unconventional, so outside the norm. Both of them have their own scars to deal with and it was so satisfying to read and watch them become more open to each other, become vulnerable to one another, become closer together. I love Izzy’s fire, her inner strength, her intelligence, her gradual understanding of Ransom. I love Ransom’s too-good-a-heart, his decency, the devotion that he developed for Izzy. These are two people who, in the beginning, had looked into their futures and found nothing promising to look forward to, but fate suddenly gives them a twist, throws them together, and lands them the chance of a lifetime: to find a love that can last into a thousand futures.
I love the trajectory of the story, the pacing and development of their romance, the shifting of priorities of the characters, and the resolution by the end of the book. I love the secondary characters. I love that it feels like Gostley castle, which they had agreed to share in the beginning, is a separate and unique character as well. I love the characters’ internal conflicts and how they eventually dealt with them.
I love that the message that I got from this book is that a happily ever after is not all perfection. You don’t need to be perfect or find that perfect person (because they don’t exist just like a perfect ‘you’ doesn’t exist) in order to be happy with your lot. You can get your happy ending or happy beginning, depends on how you look at it, when you learn to accept beyond the faults, understand beyond the imperfections, and love despite the fear of getting hurt.
What did not work for me?
Nothing, really. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover.
My over-all take on it?
While Any Duchess Will Do is still my favorite Tessa Dare, I am ecstatic that she continues to awe her readers with this first in a new series book of hers. Izzy is a delightful heroine. You can’t help but love her. And Ransom is just totally swoon-worthy. This story has that right balance of humor, romance, and heart.
About the Author:
Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eleven historical romance novels and four novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award and multiple RT Book ReviewsReviewer’s Choice Awards. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.
Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa writes Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her bestselling “Spindle Cove” series, she had great fun creating a fictional seaside community populated by women who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in such unladylike pursuits as medicine, geology, and artillery. And she had even more fun dreaming up the strong-willed, unsuspecting men who find their hearts ensnared by these unlikely heroines. The strong yet quirky heroines and sexy heroes continue in her all-new “Castles Ever After” series, launching in 2014.
A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she shares a cozy, cluttered bungalow with her husband, their two children, and a big brown dog.
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