Romancing the Duke

Written by Tessa Dare
Review by Ray Thompson

In the first of her Castles Ever After series, the author pokes fun at a whole range of conventions beloved in Regency and Gothic romance: a brooding, half-ruined castle (named Gostley Castle, no less) with secret chambers; a handsome but wounded hero (a duke, of course), behind whose harsh manner beats a heart that just needs love; a practical but unappreciated heroine in dire straits; an author fan club dressed in costume; a loyal servant; villainous solicitors…

Though amusing, the extraneous elements become a distraction that bogs down the story, but as long as the focus remains on the protagonists and their wooing, the novel is highly entertaining. Izzy is a delightful heroine, a born romantic whose childish dreams have been dispelled by the realities of life, and the duke finds her unexpectedly enthusiastic reaction to his threats to ravish her quite disconcerting. But then when will she find another attractive man, whose partial blindness leaves him more impressed by the feel of her responsive body than the sight of her plain face? Warmly recommended to lovers of Regency romance.