Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (audiobook) – narrated by Carmen Rose

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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?

This one.

Rating: B- for narration, B+ for content

Tessa Dare is, in my book, the undisputed queen of the sexy, funny, screwball-style historical romance. Her latest series, Castles Ever After, begins with Romancing the Duke which is full of her trademark humour as well as delivering a deeply felt romance featuring two thoroughly engaging protagonists.

Isolde Ophelia (Izzy) Goodnight has been left almost destitute following the death of her father, a famous author of childrens’ stories. When she discovers, completely out of the blue, that she has been left a bequest in her godfather’s will, she uses the last of her meagre finances to travel to Gostley Castle in Northumberland to meet with the executor at his request. On arrival, she meets a dishevelled but devastatingly handsome man who proclaims himself to be Ransom Vane, Duke of Rothbury and owner of the castle – but when the executor arrives, he informs her that SHE is now the owner, as the castle had been purchased by her godfather some months before.

Both Izzy and Ransom are aghast. For one thing, Ransom has holed up at the castle intent on the biggest self-pity party in the history of the universe following an incident which left him scarred and almost blind – and he most definitely does NOT want company. He also knows that he has not sold the property, and is adamant that Izzy must leave. For her part, Izzy had hoped for a monetary bequest to support herself – instead, she is confronted with a huge, dilapidated, bat-and-rat-infested castle in the north of England. But Izzy has elevated the practice of “making the best of things” to an art form in her twenty-six years – she informs Ransom that she’s not leaving and starts making plans to set the place to rights.

Ransom is still determined to get rid of her and tries everything he can think of – which includes presenting himself as a threat to her virtue by kissing her senseless – but Izzy won’t be deterred and in any case, she has nowhere else to go. So they strike a bargain. Because of his injury, Ransom is unable to deal with the huge mountain of correspondence which has arrived over the last seven months – in which, Izzy suggests, they might find documentation about the supposed sale – and she offers to act as his secretary.

During the course of their work, it becomes apparent that there is something insidious afoot, which could cost Ransom more than his run-down castle.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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