Castles Ever After Series: Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

With a couple of days off work and my willing suspension of disbelief primed, I was ready to embark on the new Tessa Dare historicalish romance. “Historicalish”? It’s because of all the autobuy/truly enjoyable authors out there, Dare is the one who most pushes the credulity envelope* (much like that phrasing). Also, it sounds a little bit like ticklish and Say Yes to the Marquess is very funny, a truly entertaining read, and another romp to add to her catalogue.

I feel like I could lift excerpts of my reviews of several Dare books and plunk them down right here. That is not a criticism as, luckily, Say Yes to the Marquess has all of her most successful elements: Wit, fun, great smolder, a hero convinced of his unworthiness, an immensely capable heroine taking control of her own life, and whimsy. The main characters are well-rounded and the supporting characters interesting, including the heroine’s socially awkward sister who seems to be on what we would call “the spectrum” and they would call eccentric.

Clio has been waiting eight years for her fiance, Piers, to return from diplomatic service on the continent. Still a teenager when she was betrothed, she put up with her mother’s carefully grooming her to become a lovely automaton of a spouse. With her mother gone and left a castle in a will – the Castles Ever After series MacGuffin – Clio is done with waiting. In order to extricate herself from her engagement and get one with an independent life, she must first get Piers’ brother/representative Rafe to sign the papers ending her affianced state.

Shagging and punching his way to notoriety, Rafe Brandon is an aristocratic rake living outside society as a pugilist. He has known and wanted Clio his entire life. Despite this, he feels he owes it to his brother to keep Clio on her way down the aisle. To do so, he decides what she really needs is to get excited about the wedding. Moving in with her and the assorted other colourful supporting characters, Rafe goes out his way to offer flowers, dresses, and cakes to convince Clio marriage to Piers has been worth the wait. One can imagine how that turns out because Say Yes to the Marquess  is exactly the delightful kind of escapism Dare excels at.

You can find a complete summary of Tessa Dare’s catalogue, including recommendations, here.

*Tirade Irrelevant to My Review:

I honestly don’t know what the hell is wrong with me and my stunted, chattering, so-called willing suspension of disbelief. I read a delightful, deftly written book and the whole time my brain is voicing quibbles about realism and historical detail even though:

a. I am a pretentious twit to think I am so well-informed as to be the arbiter of such things.
b. It’s a freaking historical romance. Escapism is the point of the genre.
c. A white wedding dress? This is the Regency. Wasn’t that a Victorian convention?
d. Could Clio even own property outright as an unmarried woman?
e. Against the bedpost in the middle of the day? They are less uptight than hippies in a commune!
f. Would it be possible to get ready made items, be they cake or clothing, without lots of advance notice?
g. SEE?! I am insufferable. Who do I think I am? I’m not a history professor. I’m not an expert, I have a smidgen of period knowledge based on one semester of Jane Austen and whatever social history I have gleaned from episodes of Masterpiece Theatre. It’s ridiculous and my brain will not shut up!

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful which includes the aforementioned observations.

P.S. When I cross-posted this on the Cannonball Read site, I tweeted about the posting and then Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan responded on Twitter and the review! The summary of the Twitter conversation can be found here. [Insert excited flailing here.]


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