Clearly I am taken with this idea of inheriting a large foreboding house far away from society that is mine without a mortgage or property taxes (and, since we’re in fantasy territory, also comes with a healthy, symbiotic relationship with the people who work the land).
As noted in the prior review for Romancing the Duke, the common thread is the aforementioned inheritance of a castle, sort of unbidden, and the appearance of an Aristocrat with a Painful Secret who wants said castle…by any means necessary.
DUN DUN DUN.
I will briefly mention that I enjoyed this book, although not as much as the previous installment (Romancing the Duke), but in trying to write this review a bit later find myself confusing it for the short story “Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan from the truly ridiculous collection of short stories How the Dukes Stole Christmas.
Moving on! If I had to be specific about why this one appealed to me less than the prior installation:
– Crippling social anxiety being a true and legitimate issue aside, it meant that Miss Madeline Gracechurch was a bit limited in her ability to go toe to toe with the rogueish Logan MacKenzie. I enjoy myself any and all iterations of the Super Heteronormative Battle of the Sexes (His Girl Friday, I want please) and the fact that MacKenzie has to realize that Madeline’s anxiety is on par with his squad’s various forms of PTSD is a bit much.
– the forced marriage business also put a bit of a damper on my enjoyment of the whole story. Of course everyone (the dude) always redeems themselves afterwards, but it’s always a bit difficult for me to get behind “and then we pretend to be married” tropes when the original getting into matrimony is skewed. Especially when it’s blackmail from the man to the woman, structures of power
in ye olde times being what they are.
That being said, I think Dare does a good job of the multi-thread plot–every one MacKenzie’s crop of wayward soldiers is sweet without being overwhelming. Ymmv on the plot of the mating lobsters, but I found it adorable as well. Probably not a book I return to, but an enjoyable one nonetheless!