Tessa Dare does a great job balancing humor and serious storytelling as a rule and this book is a very good example of that skill.
Plot: We follow Lady Penelope Campion, my favourite of the gang, is a devoted animal lover and vegetarian. This has made her unpalatable to the men of London who for some reason don’t want to live in a house with a bunch of animals, including a goat. Gabriel Duke (not aristocrat, just named Duke, I see what you did there Dare, and I like it), is your classic rags to riches with a particular hatred for the aristocracy type of guy. He buys the house next to Penelope’s and plans to renovate and sell it for profit. Penelope herself, being a Lady, adds to the value of the house, but Penelope’s menagerie does the opposite. He offers to help her find good homes for all her critters, something she needs to do herself because of some family problems, and shenanigans ensue.
I’ve loved Penelope from the first book and was excited to see how Dare would match her and her disgusting sandwiches with anyone. Gabriel is, frankly, not a unique character in the world of Romancelandia, but he is an excellent match for Penelope. They have great chemistry on the page and understand each other very well, even though they have had wildly different upbringings. This is catnip to me, so even though there are some plot contrivances and a couple of Big Bad Guys that have no depth at all, I still very much enjoyed the book.