WOOT the Tessa Dare run, here we gooo–definitely another #BlameMalin one here 😉
So the Castles Ever After series is tied together by the silliest and slimmest of plot threads: each of the main female protagonists are gifted a castle in some way or another, or are in possession of one despite being female, and there is a Duke or Lord or Laird or something or another who is either in the castle, thinks he should be in the castle, or flat out wants a castle and this one will do. I’m exaggerating a bit, having not read all of them, but I think that’ll pretty much cover every iteration Ms. Dare could come up with.
Aka first things first, please throw all the things you know about historical romances out the window. Preferably the window of your own castle, where you are ensconced with some warm blankets, chocolate or biscuits, and a stack of books.
That being said–I really, really enjoyed this one, because it comes with a super unique set of plot circumstances that really enlivened the whole set up. In this one, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight (what a name) is the only daughter of an author of beloved children’s books featuring a character called Isolde (or maybe Ophelia? either way, it’s meant to be here). But now she is destitute, on the verge of selling her hair a la Fantine, when she’s gifted a castle.
Too bad that castle comes with a mostly-blind Duke whose soliciters have been slowly bleeding him dry and sold his castle out from underneath him to Izzy’s uncle, who then bequeathed it to her.
(In other words, what we have here is the barest of Beauty and the Beast outlines, so clearly I was all in.)
Izzy has lost her taste for romance because she’s seen how far it gets you (not very far). She’s been forced to playact and go along with the obsessive fandom of her father’s work because from time to time the kindness of fans has been all that’s kept her from starvation. She’s had to make her way in the world (in a way that’s of course utterly unrealistic) but as a result is a much more fleshed out character than we usually get in these sorts of novels. Her Duke in question isn’t one of those “whores and booze” rakes, but just a cranky man in a world without great accessibility laws. So the bridge between them is shorter, and the tension and heat can be better for it.
Plus…it’s just flat out funny? I feel like this might get slotted into my re-reads with some of the Loretta Chase greats that I revisit constantly.