Dear Tessa Dare. I am sorry. I don’t know why I ever said I don’t like your book except that I was expecting my first Romance novel to read a certain way and yours did not and that vexed me. You are delightfully batty and I adore you.
Several years ago I made Say Yes to the Marquess my first foray into Romance after decades of giving them side-eye because of cool girl brainwashing. Sadly, I was expecting something more akin to Austen and the utter fruitloop crazyness of it baffled me. I thought I would be served delicate lavender shortbreads with tea in bone china cups and instead I got Superman ice cream with a cold bottle of Gritty Nightmare Fuel. Those things are awesome but not what I thought I would be getting and the disconnect threw me for a loop. I came back to romance novels a year later with Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union and it was much more agreeable. I eventually gave Tessa Dare another shot with her Spindle Cove series and finally accepted that historical accuracy is not her wheelhouse and have enjoyed her books enormously ever since. I gave Say Yes to the Marquess a reread with my new understanding and while it is not my favorite Dare, it is a fun romp.
Clio is engaged to be married to Piers, but he has been absent from the picture for eight long years and Clio wants out. She has inherited a castle and can make it on her own as an independent woman, and she feels that her marriage to Piers would be a loveless one based on his lack of attention toward her in the past. She needs only for his brother, Rafe, to sign the paperwork freeing her from the arrangement and they can all get on with their lives. Rafe, however, feels honor bound to see Clio married to his brother despite his deep feelings for her. Shenanigans ensue, involving, among other things, an ancient bulldog and cake wars.
This book is silly and fun and fluffy and downright daffy. I enjoy the Spindle Cove books better (and this one does tie into those obliquely) but I am glad I returned to it for reevaluation. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.