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Audiobook review: Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

Title: Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1)
Author: Tessa Dare
Narrator: Carmen Rose
Story rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 3 of 5 Stars


This is one of those cases when I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy a book as much as my friends did. I don’t often venture into Historical Romance, I prefer contemporary. But when all my friends rave about a book it’s hard to stay away.

This story is about Isolde Goodnight or Izzy. She is a daughter of the famous author of Goodnight Stories, popular stories for children. After her father’s sudden death she is left penniless and homeless. Her rescue comes as an unexpected inheritance of a Castle, though its previous owner Ransom, Duke of Rothbury is not happy at all. He left blind after some mysterious incident, he is grumpy, rude, very attractive and completely unwelcoming. He wants to be left alone and he wants Izzy gone.

Historical Romance is a genre full of tropes; it’s hard for an author to write something new. But Tessa Dare definitely managed it. Izzy is not a typical shy virginal heroine waiting for her prince charming. She is a strong bright woman who doesn’t give up even in such difficult circumstances.

Ransome is a very interesting character too. I love how we get to see the real man under his grumpy and tough facade. It was very satisfying to see how Izzy broke his walls one after another. Ransome was lonely and unhappy man and my heart broke for him when it was revealed why he was this way.

The banter between Izzy and Ransome was my favorite part of the book. I loved that they didn’t give each other an easy way out, they challenged each other. Because of her father’s famous stories (which he supposedly wrote to his little girl) Izzy is stuck in this false image of a little helpless girl. Nobody sees her as a woman she is. I loved how Ransome challenged her to be herself. And Izzy pushed Ransome to deal with his own demons.

What didn’t work for me I guess was the romance. While there were several very steamy scenes, I wasn’t feeling any chemistry between Izzy and Ransome.

Another aspect that I didn’t like – there wasn’t actually much going on plot-wise. That’s actually surprising, because I’m not really a fan of action-packed books. I always prefer emotional stories with less action but a lot of feelings. Since the romance in this book didn’t grab me I wanted more from the plot.

My thoughts about the audiobook

Carmen Rose is a new to me narrator. At first I had difficulties with audio, because she has this peculiar voice and I constantly got distracted. After some time I got used to her narration. What I’m trying to say is that the narration was good, but I personally needed more time to get into the audiobook.

All in all I think it was a case of “it’s me, it’s not the book”. Romancing the Duke was enjoyable story with interesting characters, humor and I’m sad I didn’t love it as much as I wanted. If you love Historical Romance I’m sure you would have more luck with this book that I.

2 Comments on “Audiobook review: Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

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    Danielle Mitro

    Sorry you didn't enjoy this one much! It's always hard to feel let down by a book your friends love. 🙁 I'm glad you saw something to enjoy in the banter, but hopefully this book won't deter you from reading more HR in the future!

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    Audio books really do need to be done well and have voices that you can mesh with. Great honest review and Happy Holidays!!

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