Romancing the Duke
By: Tessa Dare
Published date: January 28, 2014
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
How hot is it: Spicy, but tame.
Hero: Ransom William Dacre Vane, the Duke of Rothbury
Heroine: Isolde Ophelia Goodnight
I think I was in tears for most of this book, which is saying something because crying is stupid and I’m far too awesome and detached to ever engage in such a thing or admit it publicly. Ahem. Anyway, the book was just so wonderful and perfect and lovely I couldn’t stop myself. I remember reading Tessa Dare’s first book and being really excited that I’d found a Regency author that I could read in between Julia Quinn books, and she has since not disappointed me. Romancing the Duke was everything I love about romance novels in that it not only made me fall in love with the love story, but also in love with the characters as well, and the plot was fun to boot!
I’m just going to dive into this. Here’s the thing I loved most about this book: The hero is blind! Not figuratively, not temporarily, he’s just flat out blind. I kept thinking as I read, she’s going to make him regain his sight because romance novels have to be perfect. But she didn’t! He stayed blind, and it squeezed my heart, but also entranced me with the sheer, unadulterated romance of a love story where people may or may not know what the other person looks like.
The main story is that Isolde Goodnight’s father is a famous author of a really notable set of children’s stories, of which there’s no ending because her father died before finishing it. Well, this happens to leave Isolde broke. So after years of living hand to mouth, Isolde inherits a castle from her father’s old friend. Too bad the Duke of Rothbury owns it! So when she gets there, she is up against a dude with a major attitude. The Duke of Rothbury is used to getting what he wants, but the fact that people think he’s dead is creating a big problem. He got into a squabble with the guy who stole his intended wife, and now he’s permanently disfigured. Enter Isolde, and you’ve got a major conflict because she has a legal claim on his property and she’s not going anywhere, chiefly because she’s super poor and has nowhere to go! Stick with it, lady.
There are some major plot twists (spoilers!), the main one involves the Duke of Rothbury’s lawyer people trying to claim that he’s unfit to serve as duke because he’s blind. This leads the Duke to having to do the one thing he’s avoided for the entire book: ask other people for help. It’s a poignant turn for a man who was so self-sufficient and used to getting what he wanted just by virtue of being a duke. The other twist is that Isolde is actually the author of the children’s stories her dad supposedly wrote. I have to admit, I was duped by both of these things for most of the book. I really had no idea he was blind until Isolde did, and I didn’t start suspecting that she was the author until halfway through the book, which is really remarkable. And I think this was mainly due to the fact that I just wasn’t wondering about it. I was so caught up in the ultra-sweet romance of this book, I didn’t find myself guessing or even caring about what would happen next. I was just so in it.
People on Amazon complained that they didn’t like the fairy tale aspect of it, and I just have to roll my eyes. Oh, yeah, fairy tales, everybody just hates it when, like, everything goes right and one’s wildest dreams come true! Get a grip, people, and embrace some freaking whimsy for a change. It’s not like any of us are reading romance novels for the realism! Geez. Anyway, I’m done, but, right? The epilogue also killed me when he painted crooked stars on the wall of the nursery. I just, good grief, it was so adorable. Man, I just really liked this book. If you’re looking for a warm book to get you through this already hideously cold winter, read it today!