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?
Publisher and Release Date: Avon Pubishing, January 2014
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2.5
Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars
Review by Lady Blue
Isolde “Izzy” Goodnight’s dreams of love are dead. At the age of twenty six, she has no suitors, no family to turn to, and is about to lose her home. Upon her father’s recent death, Izzy’s home became the property of a cousin who has bullied and despised Izzy all his life. He looks forward to displacing her. She is at her wit’s end, when she receives notice that her godfather has died and left her a bequest, and she is to travel to Gostley Castle to claim it. Hoping that the bequest is enough to support her, Izzy uses the last of her funds and sets off to make her claim.
Upon arrival, she finds the castle in a state of disrepair, and Lord Archer, the man she was to meet is nowhere to be found. She is confronted by another man, who turns out to be Ransom Vane, Duke of Rothbury, and the castle’s owner. He has no idea why Izzy is here, intruding on his privacy, and only wants her gone. Izzy has not eaten much for the last several days, so she is on her last legs when she faints at the Duke’s feet. He reluctantly carries her inside until she can recover and leave.
When Izzy finally comes to, she realizes that the Duke is blind, or very nearly so. He provides tea for her, anxiously waiting for her to depart. At this point, Lord Archer shows up, informing Izzy that her bequest is Gostley Castle. Since the duke owns it and resides there, he knows this can’t be true. But Lord Archer has the legal documents, and a desperate Izzy is determined to stay because she has no money and nowhere else to go. Until the matter is settled legally, Izzy and Ransom are reluctant housemates.
Ransom has been hiding out at his remote estate in Northumberland for the last seven months. His fiancée ran off with another man, and Ransom followed, believing she may have been abducted. When he caught up with the couple, he was attacked by the bridegroom, an attack that left him scarred and with almost no vision. He can see shadows, and in bright daylight, he can see very hazy images. Now he only wants solitude. His previous rakish lifestyle is a thing of the past.
Izzy is not physically beautiful, but all Ransom can see of her is a cloud of dark hair, her red lips, and her curves. Despite himself, he is attracted to her. Izzy feels desired for the first time, and allows Ransom to think she’s beautiful. As they wait for matters to be sorted out about the estate, they alternate between needling each other and kissing each other.
Another thing we learn is that Izzy was the subject of a series of books penned by her father, called “The Goodnight Tales.” This series inspired a following of people throughout England which can only be compared to Trekkies or Muggles in today’s world. When a group of these fans, called Moranglians, show up at Gostley Castle in full dress, the results are hilarious, and later, heroic. I found this part of the story to be delightful and whimsical, without being ridiculous.
But the focus is the developing love between Izzy and Ransom. Izzy truly blossoms, and Ransom, who had not been a very good person, becomes a true hero. They are a wonderful couple. This book was romantic and delightful, and I know it’s going to be one of my favorites for this year. This book is the first of a new series by Tessa Dare, in which the deceased godfather here has several goddaughters, and he bequeaths them all a castle. I can hardly wait for the next installment.