Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies's Reviews > Romancing the Duke

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
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really liked it
bookshelves: uk, romance, regency, jericho-fucking-barrons, awesome-guy

...and Khanh's heart grew three sizes that day.

This book makes me smile. It left me with a goofy grin and eyes misted over with stupid unshed tears. It makes me want to believe in starlit kisses, in moonlit romance. It makes me want my own fairy tale.

Goddamn it. This book was just too fucking cute.

Yes, I realize that the cursing is completely uncalled for!! Let me curse!! I need an element of foulness in order to retain the vestiges of my usual anger and bitterness. This book has left me a silly, sappy fool, and I can't say I regret it.

I regret nothing.

The Summary: With a name like Isolde Ophelia Goodnight and a father who wrote a series of children's stories, you would expect Izzy's life to be a fairy tale.

It wasn't.

Isolde prefers to be known as Izzy. Izzy is not ugly, but neither is she a beauty. No Prince Charming has ever shown up for her. And at 26, her life is as far removed from enchantment as you can imagine. Life---and romance, has always passed her by.
And for as long as she could remember, Izzy had been waiting—with dwindling faith and increasing impatience—for that part of her life to begin.
Instead of a charmed life, Izzy is now a spinster. Her father is dead. She is broke; completely destitute. She has no home. She hasn't eaten in days. Izzy is no longer a girl with stars in her eyes. Her present is cold, harsh reality.
Her cravings for romance were gone. Now she’d settle for bread. What fairy tales were left over for a plain, impoverished, twenty-six-year-old woman who’d never even been kissed?
Right now, Izzy's entire existence hinges on a letter, a letter that arrived, promising her survival. Her late godfather has left her a bequest.

That bequest, as befitting a fairy-tale girl, is a castle. But it's not an enchanted castle, by any means. It probably needs an exorcism, more than anything.
This castle didn’t welcome or enchant.
It loomed.
It menaced.
She almost worried it might pounce.
And that castle comes with its own beast. A crippled, blind, scarred duke. A monstrous, terrifying masterpiece.
There were things in nature that took their beauty from delicate structure and intricate symmetry. Flowers. Seashells. Butterfly wings. And then there were things that were beautiful for their wild power and their refusal to be tamed. Snowcapped mountains. Churning thunderclouds. Shaggy, sharp-toothed lions.

This man silhouetted before her? He belonged, quite solidly, in the latter category.
Well, shit. The castle in question is his, and Ransom, half-monster and 100% man---is naturally, not that eager to hand it over to her. The castle has been in his family for generations, and due to a misunderstanding, it has been sold. Now, his ancestral home has been handed over to a chit of a girl, and damned if Ransom's going to hand it over on a silver platter.


Ransom has a comfortable life as a secluded hermit---as fairy tale Beasts often do, and the last thing he wants is a woman invading HIS personal space. Nope. Nope. Nope. He literally throws Izzy out.
“That’s it,” he said, at length. “You’re leaving this place the same way you came in.”

He ducked, caught her by the legs, and threw her over his shoulder—with the ease of a man who’d tossed many a woman over his shoulder. This was definitely not his first go at lady-tossing.
Unfortunately for him, Izzy is not the frail, shrinking violet sort he expected.

Izzy may have the name of a damsel in a fairy tale, but she is a grown woman. She is hungry, she is desperate, she has nowhere else to go, and this woman is standing her ground.
He bounced her weight, plumping her backside with his forearm. “There’s so little to you.”

“You’re wrong,” she said. “There’s a great deal to me, Your Grace. More than you know. More than anyone supposes. You can carry me outside, if you like. I’ll come back in. Again, and again. As many times as it takes. Because this is my castle now. And I’m not leaving.”
Ransom and Izzy comes to an uneasy agreement. She will stay and be his secretary and sort out his long-neglected correspondances (blind men can't really answer letters), as well as figure out the legal fiasco that led to his castle being sold in the first place.

He pays her very well---200 pounds a day, the sooner she figures it out, the sooner they can move on with their life. Only there's just one problem. Izzy starts to grow on him. The easiest way to get to a man's heart is through his belly...and Izzy can make pancakes. Pancakes.
She poked around, making busy clanging noises. “I don’t suppose there are eggs? If I do say it myself, I make a very good pancake.”
Oh, no. This just grew worse and worse.
I make a very good pancake.
What was even more appalling was that Ransom found himself suddenly hungry for a very good pancake. Starving. Ravenous. Damn it, he was faint with yearning for a very good pancake.
All alarms are sounding inside Ransom's head. This woman is dangerous. I MEAN, PANCAKES. His instincts are screaming at him. GET. OUT. NOW.
Get out now. The threat is coming from inside the castle.
Naturally, they find themselves gradually growing fond of each other. But there are, naturally, obstacles to their love. Someone is trying to get rid of Ransom, steal his inheritance. There are secrets in Ransom's past that threatens to overwhelm their trust of one another.

And then there are the fanboys and fangirls. Seriously. When your childhood self was written into a bookas a fairy-tale character, this is what you get. A fanclub of your very own.
The armored riders dismounted in unison, and the carriage doors opened, spilling forth about a dozen young ladies in medieval dress. Banners waved briskly in the morning breeze.
Heaven help us!

The Setting: A MOTHERFUCKING MEDIEVAL CASTLE, Y'ALL. HOW COOL IS THAT? It is not a pretty castle. It is one of those evil, lurching, looming, scary ones. It comes with scary noises...
Once again, she woke to darkness, her heart pounding with terror and her throat scraped raw.
Strange noises assailed her from all sides.
As well as bats. Lots and lots of bats. Bats that turn a potentially romantic interlude...
“There’s a rule about sunsets in this castle, Miss Goodnight.”
“There is?”
“Yes.” He turned her to face him. “And a man and a woman standing in this very place are compelled to heed it. No choice. There’s only one thing to be done.”
“What’s that?”
Her pulse stumbled. Surely he couldn’t mean to...
He lowered his head and made his voice a seductive whisper. “Duck.”
“Oh, no.” She stiffened. “Those can’t be...”
They were.
An entire colony of them had been roosting in the highest reaches of the canopy. Now they took wing one by one, then ten by ten...and then hundreds all at once.
Clearly, the castle, like its master, needs a whooooooole lot of maintenance to get shipshape.

Izzy: You know Alice Liddel? Little Alice who inspired Alice in Wonderland? Izzy is like that. She is famous. She has been written into her father's very famous fairy tales, and the whole of England knows about her. But like Alice, nobody wants to read about Izzy Goodnight as a grown up, with her own hopes and dreams. They want to think of Izzy Goodnight as a sweet little girl, forever a child, forever a fantasy.
The Lord Archers of the world didn’t want Izzy to be a grown woman with her own set of likes and dislikes, dreams and desires. They wanted her to be the wide-eyed young girl of the stories. That way, they could continue to read and reread their beloved tales, imagining themselves in her place.
Reality is harsher than that. Izzy is not that little girl. She is a strong, determined woman. Izzy is not a faint-hearted girl, but she is not a timid little thing. She may be strong, but she is never, ever a bitch. That is what I love about her.

Izzy has so much inner strength. She is scared of a lot of things, she has had a challenging life, with a neglectful father and a nation who wants her to remain a little girl for all of eternity. Izzy used to dream of fantasies, of a love sprung from fairy tales. She is no longer that little girl. Izzy, the woman is all grown up, with a backbone made of steel.
He might be wealthy, powerful, angry, and big. But on at least one score, Izzy had him outmatched. Buoyancy. She knew how to handle prickly creatures, and she knew how to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
When thrown in the pond, she learned how to swim.
Ransom: You rusual dark, brooding duke, but he is just so loveable. He is never a brute. He growls, he snarls, but he never, ever crosses the boundaries. Ransom is all bark, no bite.

He wanted to throw her out, the castle is his, after all, but Ransom has a heart, no matter if it has been broken. He cannot throw Izzy out. Ransom is gentler than he lets on.
But was this truly all that was left of him? A cruel, unfeeling brute who would cast a defenseless young woman out into the night?
He didn’t want to believe that. Not yet. He didn’t surrender anything lightly, and that included what few shards remained of his broken soul.
Ransom, like most Beastly Dukes, have a scarred past. He doesn't allow himself to be loved.
It was so foreign to him, this unsolicited tenderness. Incomprehensible. And much as he craved it, it scared him like hell. With every caress he permitted, he was piling up debts he could never repay.
You don’t deserve it, came that dark, unforgiving echo. He’d heard the words so many times, they were part of him now. They lived in his blood, resounding with each hollow beat of his heart. You don’t deserve this. You never could.
But insidiously, without him realizing it, Izzy, with her wild mane and her good heart and gentle nature, finds her way into his home and his heart. And they're pretty much the same thing.
If not for her, this room would still be filled with rats and bats. If not for her, he’d be sitting unshaven and drunk in the great hall, morosely counting his steps to nowhere. And if not for her, he would have no reason to fight this battle at all.
The Romance: LOVED IT. This book has plenty of steam, of the sweet, sensual sort. There is no extreme OH LET'S FUCK WITHIN THE FIRST 50 PAGES sort of shit. This is a grown woman who has to slowly understand her own lust.
She growled in frustration. “I know I’m not. It makes no sense at all. I’m not a silly little girl who dreams of knights. I’m a woman. A woman who’s inconveniently, completely, and for the first time in her life, in lust. Just burning with desire for the worst possible man. A profane, bitter, wounded duke who refuses to leave her house. Oh, you are dreadful.”
Who demands that her first kiss be fucking PERFECT, dammit. And if it's not, well, you better make fucking sure you do it right the second time around. And it still counts.
Her grip tightened on his shirtfront. “You’re not going to ruin my first kiss. I won’t let you. You’re going to kiss me again, right now. And make it better.”
He shook his head, incredulous. “It’s over. It’s already done. Even if I did kiss you again, it wouldn’t be your first kiss anymore.”
“It counts,” she said. “So long as it’s part of the same embrace, it all counts as one.”
Bloody hell.
There's my girl!

The romance is so sweet, so genuinely adorable. The writing is absolutely delightful. Nary a page passes when I didn't find myself grinning madly. This book is filled with humor, full of delight.
Somehow, he’d wound a lock of her hair about his finger. There it was. Right This Moment. And he had no recollection of doing it, either.
What was he coming to, when a woman sat in his lap, he gave her a stern what-for...and then ten seconds later, oopsy-daisy and la-di-dah, he went and twirled a finger in her hair?
That was not ducal behavior.
You will fall in love with this book.
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Reading Progress

February 17, 2014 – Started Reading
February 17, 2014 – Shelved
February 17, 2014 –
page 30
8.11% "This is just too fucking cute. I'm squeeing all over the place. \n \n "Gods be cursed. The one thing Ransom wanted less right now than a swooning woman? A nuzzling woman. Since his injury, he didn’t like anyone too close. And he didn’t require any nuzzling, thank you. He had a dog.""
February 18, 2014 – Shelved as: uk
February 18, 2014 – Shelved as: romance
February 18, 2014 – Shelved as: regency
February 18, 2014 – Shelved as: jericho-fucking-barrons
February 18, 2014 – Shelved as: awesome-guy
February 18, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 77 (77 new)

message 1: by Katherine (new) - added it

Katherine Such. a. pretty. cover. And I'm glad you finally have a good book!!

Tess Ditto, I'm 30 pages from the end and going to finish it right now. I did not expect the adroableness.

message 3: by Rose (new) - added it

Rose I love Tessa Dare. This is one I'm definitely going to pick up at some point.

message 4: by Jana (new)

Jana Yaaaaay, a book you enjoyed! Very well-deserved, after that last bit of nonsense. I can't wait to read your review!

Bonnie Awww I totally need to pick this up now. Soon.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Katherine: I can't stop smiling. The ending left me with almost TEARS in my eyes. God. It's disgusting.

Tess: You namesake author is awesome!

Rose: I was never a huge fan of Tessa Dare before, but this book reads like early Julia Quinn to me.


Anna: It truly is.

message 7: by Jana (new)

Jana I don't normally read romance novels, but I might have to break that rule for this book.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies You definitely do, Bonnie!

Kit: I was a huuuuuuuuuuge book snob when I was in my late teens, and you wouldn't catch me reading a romance novel for anything. I thought they were stupid brainless bodice rippers. To be fair, some of them are, but there are authors who are just spectacular writers. Historical Romance is my thing for a comfort read. They can be so immensely well-written and wonderful if you find a good author.

Camila, the opinionated Catruler "The ending left me with almost TEARS in my eyes. God. It's disgusting."

Glad to know we haven't completely lost you.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I just started my next book.

Angry Khanh is back. No worries.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

This goes on my TBR.

Navessa WANT.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies You need this. I'm going back in time right with you.

message 14: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "I just started my next book.

Angry Khanh is back. No worries."


Anya (~on a semi-hiatus~) Sounds swell! :D

Navessa Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "You need this. I'm going back in time right with you."

Fucking HRs. I have no desire to read anything else right now. I blame Kleypas.

message 17: by Penelope (new)

Penelope Swan So enjoy reading your reviews, Khanh. Won't bother with the book. It couldn't be better than your review.

message 18: by S.K. (new)

S.K. Newton God forgive me, I might actually read this. I just want to believe in fucking miracles and love again.

MK~ Picky Girl Awesome review! Just added it. You had me at Jericho Barons LOL!

Jennifer (The Nightly Book Owl) Aaaand this goes straight to by TBR pile.

"...and Khanh's heart grew three sizes that day. "

Awww glad you found a good one! This sounds right up my alley, and a medieval castle? That's pretty epic. Anyway, great review :)

♡Karlyn P♡ Great review, I do want to get this one!

message 22: by Selah (new) - added it

Selah I'm 98th on the LA county library hold list. Not cool! I want this now

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Thanks, everyone.

Mags: 98?! Oh my god. I'm so sorry.

message 24: by Jenna (new)

Jenna I so want to read this one!!!

 Mummy Cat Claire This book is so up my alley. I'm not sure I've met with this author. Must read soon.

Cathryn Great review! I know if it's a winner with Khanh I have to read it. This has now been added to my to read list.

message 27: by Selah (new) - added it

Selah Yep, 98. At least they have 8 copies so it's really only, uh, 12 people who have to read it before me? Sigh. Maybe I'll just buy it..

Kuroi It does sound really adorable. I read one Tessa Dare book before, but I wasn't particularly impressed. I'll give this one a chance of to warm the cockles of my black heart though :)

message 29: by Nora (new)

Nora D'awwww, Khanh's in love ;-)

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Jenna: hope you like it :D

Claire: I've read Tessa Dare before, and nothing's been memorable til now.

Cathryn: ^_^;; let's hope you don't change your mind

Mags; Oh, Jesus. And I thought the wait for the newest Stephen King at my library was bad.

Krishna: Same here, she hasn't impressed me before :)

Noora: YES!

message 31: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid OOOh! I bought this book! I made a good decision that day.

message 33: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell Awesome, awesome review Khanh!!! Now I'm dying to try this book out!

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Ronyell :D

message 35: by Cam *tactile seeker* (last edited Feb 19, 2014 11:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cam *tactile seeker* Fantastic review, Khanh! I like it that you have eclectic tastes in books, just like mines.
And even though I'm not really a romantic person, I love a good HR, it's the only genre that makes me feel at peace with the world.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Regency HR is my comfort read, because you can't really go wrong there. I love all the balls, I love all the tea parties, I love all the town gossip. It's just sweet, familiar, just give me ALL the tropes.

Cam *tactile seeker* Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "Regency HR is my comfort read, because you can't really go wrong there. I love all the balls, I love all the tea parties, I love all the town gossip. It's just sweet, familiar, just give me ALL the..."

Agreed. Between you and Cory, I don't who's making me crave HR more. ;)

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies ^______^

Cory and I pretty much have identical tastes in HR. The series she's reading is one I have loved for years. I'm still pushing the Wallflowers series on her =)

Cam *tactile seeker* Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "^______^

Cory and I pretty much have identical tastes in HR. The series she's reading is one I have loved for years. I'm still pushing the Wallflowers series on her =)"

Oh yes, I've read a couple of books in the Wallflowers series and Devil in Winter is one of my favorite HR ever.
I should probably finish it, I know I need a feel-good read right now.

message 40: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Ronyell :D"


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Cutest. Book. Ever. I just devoured this in one setting. I particularly liked how Abigail wasn't as one dimensional as Izzy originally thought. And the pancakes. Oh my God the friggin pancakes!!! Simply adorable! I promptly made some chocolate chip ones and drug my fiance out of bed to help me eat them. They were delicious as was the book. lol.

message 42: by Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies (last edited Feb 20, 2014 10:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I'm so glad you liked it, Tamira. And damn, I'm jealous of your fiancé. Being dragged out of bed to eat freshly made chocolate chip pancakes? Why can't I get in on that action?

Are you guys adopting?

Carol (Bookaria) Just ordered it from the library, arriving soon!

Susana I'm convinced! Another one to my TBR list!


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies OH YES YOU LIKE IT ^__________^

Louisa What do you mean like it, I LOVE IT! (view spoiler)

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I can't wait for the next book. THERE BETTER BE SOME CAMEOS.

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