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The Reading Jackalope

Romancing the Duke

Romancing the Duke  - Tessa Dare This was September’s pick for Vaginal Fantasy, and as I finished it before the hangout it totally counts as having been read in time. Yup. Totally. It’s a light, fluffy read that had me crying with laughter in some spots and grimacing in frustration in others, so kind of a mixed bag. The first half of the book was completely and utterly delightful and ridiculous and then somewhere in the second half, it just kind of all fell apart. Part of the reason for the falling apart though, is my distaste for certain aspects of modern romance tropes and plot formulas. It’s also completely ahistorical and regency-era in name only, which again didn’t bother me until there was just one too many historic details I was supposed to ignore in order to keep reading.

Isolde Ophelia Goodnight is an impoverished woman who inherits a castle. Ransom, Duke of Rothbury, is the inhabitant of said castle and he doesn’t’ remember ever selling it. Ransom agrees to hire Izzy as his secretary while they figure out exactly what is going on and then romance. The plot is one of the big things that fell apart for me. The romance, the main part of the plot was great. However, there is a major villain who never appears ‘on screen’, even though his/their machinations are what set the whole thing in motion. Even worse though is that after the characters declare their I-love-yous this villain is swept aside, again off screen, with a deux-ex-machina. I get that romance novels are mainly about getting the two characters together, but for me the other plot elements are just as important. Don’t introduce a plot line you don’t plan to actually wrap up is what I’m saying. Unfortunately, that particular problem is pretty rampant in modern romance novels, and it’s one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of the genre.

And then there’s the ‘historical’ setting. This book was terrible, TERRIBLE, with any sense of history or place. I can’t even pretend to call it a historical romance because it so completely ignored historical dress, society, social mores, and just everything. And that was fine, for the most part I’m ok with ignoring some of those things for the sake of plot. I adore urban fantasy for crying out loud, I am familiar with the suspension of disbelief. There were just one too many moments that required my suspension of disbelief for me to fully enjoy the novel. I can’t even pinpoint the exact moment where I finally reached the moment that I couldn’t take it any more, but I know it was around the later half of the novel.

Those complaints aside, this book had me crying with laughter in more then a few places. The romance between Izzie and Ransom is adorable and believable. The female friendship that develops between Izzie and Abigail, the vicar’s daughter, instead of rivalry is refreshing. I adore the skewring of Byronic heroes that Ransom represents. As a spoof on gothic novels, I think the book could have been a bit more developed along those lines and yet I think it was well done. Izzie’s sensible and down-to-earth nature speaks to me. All of these things considerably raised the book's rating in my opinion.