By Tessa Dare
Avon, $7.99, 370 pages
With a name like Isolde Ophelia Goodnight, the heroine of Tessa Dare’s Romancing the Duke is either destined to live life in a fairy tale or a tragedy. Though she is the living embodiment of England’s favorite bed time stories, The Goodnight Tales, when her neglectful father dies suddenly leaving her penniless, homeless and orphaned, Izzy’s life appears to lean more toward tragedy. Then she receives a bequest from an adoring fan that may just answer all her prayers. The beginning of Ms. Dare’s newest romance series Castles Ever After sets up a theme of an absentee godfather leaving castles across England to his various goddaughters. Landowning being a completely unheard of practice for women in Regency England, meaning there is sure to be conflict. In Izzy’s case there is an Evil Beast in the form of Ransome, the Duke of Rothbury. Caught in a landlord tenant dispute, their love story brings back the romance to the romance genre. He is not the prince every little girl dreams of. He is crude, he swears like a seaman, has a dry sense of humor and an injury that should make him an invalid. Yet, who can deny the romance of a thousand candles set up in a castle turret bedroom, or a confession of love that drives a man into a mental asylum? Tessa Dare’s story telling is as exquisite as it is humorous. She describes raindrops as “little potbellied drunkards chortling on their way to earth” and a voice like “soothing wild honey”. If there is absurdity in the storyline brought about by references to well known fairy tales from our time such as Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast, and Live Action Role Playing, it makes this escapist literature more enjoyable because the reader is assured that unlike in real life, all of these fairy tales contain a happy ending.
Reviewed by Rachelle Barrett
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