Dec 29 2014 9:30am

First Look: Tessa Dare’s Say Yes to the Marquess (December 30, 2014)

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa DareTessa Dare
Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After)
Avon / December 30, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She's inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride's cold feet?
● He starts with flowers. A wedding can't have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she'll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn't kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn't kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn't fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I have been raving about Tessa Dare’s romance fiction since she was an aspiring author winning roses in Avon’s Fanlit competition. Her writing has matured, but the humor, heart, and characters with whom a reader delights to spend time have been Dare trademarks from the beginning.

The second book in her Castles Ever After series has all the trademarks. The humor ranges from the subtle to the broad. (I generally prefer cerebral humor, but I guffawed when Ellingworth mistakes the usually odious Daphne for statuary and marks her.) And the humor is not mere scintillation. The hero’s response to the heroine’s posturing brother-in-law is amusing, but it also reveals some key qualities in the hero that make him a character who inspires sympathy and admiration in equal amounts. Finally, both Clio and Rafe are immensely likeable characters—misfits with vulnerabilities they think are well-concealed—who are interesting because they are more than types and endearing because of their flawed humanity. All of these qualities make Say Yes to the Marquess a stellar read, but it is Rafe who makes this a book I will reread again and again with as much pleasure as I knew on the first reading.

I could write a sonnet to Rafe. Sigh! Instead, I’ll list the top three reasons that he has entered my Heroes Hall of Fame.

1. He breaks the mold. He is no spy with painful secrets, no psychically wounded veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, and no dark-souled duke motivated by revenge. He is a younger son who has found his identity as an illegal prizefighter, something at which he is very good. He is not an elegant, polished aristocrat but a big, determined, intensely physical man.

He seemed to carry things with him, the way other men carried portmanteaux or walking sticks. Things like intensity. Brute power, held in check—but only just. That sense of danger mingled with anticipation. And the promise that at any moment, the rules that governed society could be rendered meaningless.

Clio thinks of him at one point as Prometheus, the Titan who allied himself with humans, challenged Zeus, and dared steal fire from heaven. Prometheus seems an entirely appropriate image for this hero.

2. He knows the heroine at some essential level. He may be pushing her at his brother in order to see that she has what he thinks she deserves and to protect his own heart, but he truly values her. And the Clio he admires is not an image of perfection but the “unfinished” woman, the Clio he had known “before the dragons had taken her in their clutches and stifled her with ten coats of lacquer.”

3. He knows how to kiss. Maybe I’m shallow, but I always look forward to the kissing scenes in Tessa Dare’s books. Yes, I know most readers are impatient for the sizzle, and Dare supplies that as well. She does so superbly, crafting love scenes that are integral to the story, revealing who Clio and Rafe are and who they are becoming together. But I’m happy she includes a kissing scene that equals her best ones.

He taught her the way of it. . . . With practiced skill and gentle teasing, and a patience that belied his hunger.

They kissed tenderly. They kissed deeply.

They kissed as though it were right.

As though it made perfect sense. As if all the talking and not-talking and arguing and ignoring they’d done over the past eight years—no, so much longer than that—had all been entries on one long list of “Things We Do to Avoid Kissing.” And now that they’d reached the end of it, they had a great deal of lost time to make up.

They kissed and kissed, as the rain fell around them.

I do hope someone says yes to the marquess. He quite deserves his own HEA. But my best advice to fans of historical romance is to say yes to the books of Tessa Dare.

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Say Yes to the Duke by Tessa Dare, available December 30, 2014:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes

Buy at IndieBound



Janga spent decades teaching literature and writing to groups ranging from twelve-year-olds to college students. She is currently a freelance writer, who sometimes writes about romance fiction, and an aspiring writer of contemporary romance, who sometimes thinks of writing an American historical romance. She can be found at her blog Just Janga and tweeting obscure bits about writers as @Janga724.

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georgina cowell
1. pudge
Janga always enjoy your posts, found most of my best reads from your recommendations.
Off to order myself a Tessa Dare new year treat. Thanks
3. Kahintenn
My library preordered this, so I've had it on hold forever! I love Tessa Dare.
5. Hellion
*swoons* CAN NOT WAIT! Excellent review, Janga!
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