Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Romancing the Duke

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

Isolde Ophelia Goodnight lives in the mind of millions of Englishman as the beautiful and imaginative daughter of famous storyteller Harry Goodnight, but the reality is quite different as Izzy is plain and destitute. When she receives a letter that she has inherited a Gostley Castle, she rushes there only to find that the very handsome and mysterious, Duke of Rothbury, is in residence and the former owner is in no hurry to give up his familial estate. Ransom Dane has shut himself up in his crumbling and decrepit castle ever since a duel with his former fiance's new husband left him scarred and mostly blind. He is not a fan of this loud and energetic woman taking over his life and trying to force him into society and his castle into the 19th century. Izzy knows this is her last chance as she is completely without funds and the fan's of her father's novel, while numerous and generous, are not people whom Izzy enjoys depending on. When Ransom realizes that something must be horribly wrong with his solicitors and his funds, he hires Izzy to read his correspondence and discover the truth of what has been going on.

Ransom is not at all impressed with Izzy's army of fans, who still believe she is the little girl from the stories, but is quite impressed with Izzy herself. What little sight he has left and the way that she is helping him acclimate to real life now, makes him wonder if he is deserving of the love the world has denied himself since his mother died in childbirth. But Izzy has hope for him and as she fixes up his castle, and provides quite the temptation to him, he starts to believe that their is hope for him as well. When Izzy's fans, the Moranglian Army, comes to visit, Ransom wants her to claim her independence from the little girl from the fairy tales. But when Ransom's solicitors attempt to take control of his fortune by having him declared insane, it will take Izzy, Ransom, and the entire Moranglian army to carve out a happily ever after for Ransom and Izzy.

This story was Beauty and the Beast with some twists that nicely avoided the whole Stockholm Syndrome element as Izzy was free to leave whenever she wanted. Izzy was very interesting and I love how she was independent and capable, but also felt a need to live up to the expectations of her father's fans by pretending to be something she wasn't. It was both frustrating and admirable, but was well explained by Dare who is remarkable at writing characters motives and back stories. Ransom was definitely dark and brooding locked up in his crumbling castle, determined to shut himself off from the world. He was both heroic, especially when some truths about him are revealed, and difficult to like because he repeatedly pushed Izzy away. However, there were many times when he showed how wonderful he was by sticking up for Izzy and only wanting what was best for her, even if he did come across as surly while he was doing it.

Izzy's exuberance and positive outlook in life, even with all that life has thrown at her, was in direct contrast to Ransom's inability to see anything but the worst in everyone and everything. With Izzy's help, he was able to overcome a lot of that, but it just seemed a little off that two people who were so different could form a real connection. They spent quite a lot of time together, fixing up the house, getting to know each other, flirting madly, and preparing for the competency hearing and I really liked seeing how they acted together under so many different circumstances. There was a lot of heat between them, and they were always madly flirting and making inuendos about sex, but there was truthfully very little sex and it was rather boring and not what I expected from Dare.

Rating: Two very different protagonists who had an almost unbelievable romance, but I did like the modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

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