Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

Title: Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After, #2) 

Author: Tessa Dare

Rating: 4 Stars

Say Yes to the Marquess is easily one of my favorite historical romance novels, right up there with Courtney Milan's Unraveled. I often struggle with historical fiction because every series is composed of a series of companion novels--and that, frankly, bores me. Quite simply put, I am not suited to such a dull series of companion novels. I enjoy the secondary characters to a love story well enough but, when I find out that there's an entire novel devoted to their romance, I either envision that scenario myself--so much so that the actual novel pales since it doesn't follow the structure in my mind--or I simply fail to connect with that character on a level stronger than "secondary character." Thus, with historical romances, I wind up having to read every single novel an author writes since I never fall in love with an entire series. It's always two books from their debut quartet, one book from their sophomore trilogy, and a novella from their current assignment; I will be the first to admit, it's a chore. After all, it's not the authors I love but the romances and if I'm not on board with the characters, I drift off for their epic love story.

With the Castles Ever After Series, though, each companion novel is composed of a completely different heroine. The only similarity between these novels which cause them to be bunched together is the fact that their setting is at a castle and, for each heroine, this castle represents something completely unique and revelatory about their personalities. In Romancing the Duke, the predecessor to Say Yes to the Marquess, the castle was--literally--the fairy tale the protagonist dreamt of and never attained. In Say Yes to the Marquess, though, it represents freedom to Clio, an intelligent woman who has waited eight years for her engagement to Piers Brandom to culminate in marriage. When Clio's uncle passes away and leaves his castle to Clio, she recognizes that she no longer needs marriage to support her; she has a castle. But Rafe Brandon, the notorious younger brother of Piers and his complete opposite in every way--a rake and prizefighter where Piers is a diplomat--won't let Clio call off the engagement. Piers is finally returning to England and Rafe is determined that Clio will marry. But years of restrained passion lie between Clio and Rafe and in Rafe's determination to make Clio marry, he just may want her to marry him instead.

Say Yes to the Marquess is the perfect slow-burn, forbidden, friends-to-lovers romance. Clio and Rafe grew up together and have always had an easy rapport between them. Though they have had little contact over the years, particularly since Rafe grew estranged from his family, the situation at hand has them in closer proximity than ever before. It is impossible not to love the relationship between Clio and Rafe from the start. Both wear facades; her of societal gentility, him of rakishness. In reality, though, Clio isn't the perfect gentlewoman others believe her to be for she aspires for more beyond the confines of society; of a marriage with love, of freedom to run her own business, of a life spent pleasing herself, not others. Similarly, Rafe hides behind a tough, manly facade despite the fact that all he wants is the love and affection denied to him as a child. Clio and Rafe understand one another in ways others do not and that deep-seated comprehension, alongside their burning sexual tension and the impending marriage of Clio and Piers looming ahead all makes for a highly entertaining read.

What's more, Say Yes to the Marquess is one of the most empowering novels I've come across. When asked if there is another in her life, Clio replies that yes, there is--her. Clio yearns to put herself above all else for once in her life and her journey to attaining that confidence--confidence not only in her abilities to provide for herself but confidence in her curvaceous figure as well--is deftly handled and inspiring. If there's one thing that the Adult Romance genre excels in, it is in writing headstrong feminist heroines who fall in love with equally strong male counterparts who, above all else, respect not only them, but their dreams as well. (If only we could see more of that in every other genre too...) Nevertheless, Say Yes to the Marquess is another resounding triumph for Tessa Dare. Truly, I cannot recommend this series enough.


  1. I LOVE this series, Keertana! I finished Romancing the Duke and then read this one soon after. I agree, Tessa Dare excels at writing smart, capable heroines, thoroughly relatable, and a strong (swoony!) male counterpart! I love the clever, quick banter tossed back and forth, too. I listed to the audio book versions of these books and the narrator was superb! Brilliant review! :)

  2. It's been a while for me with historical romance novels, but since Rachel (Reader's Den) have loved it too, I think this might be a good reintroduction for me!

  3. SWEET! I so need to read this one. I think I've been lucky in my choices of historical romance since I've read mostly those that seem to be complete within itself. I do love the sound of this one and I am so adding it to my wishlist!

  4. I've been wanting to get into the Adult Romance genre and I'm so glad I can come to you for recommendations! Looks like I'll have to start with Tessa Dare's series. I'm so glad that this series in particular works for you in terms of having all companion novels being their own story. Clio and Rafe seem like a lovely couple, both together and individually. I love the slow-burn friendship to romances, so I think I'll like this one a lot. And add the factor of having character facades is always interesting as the readers peel back the layers into their true forms. I loved this review, Keertana! Thanks for sharing as always :)

  5. You make such an intriguing point about the whole companion novel thing, Keertana! While companion novels aren't absolutely HUGE in YA, I know they're pretty big with historical romances. However, I'm glad that these books are different from the norm! The whole castle thing is also super interesting- the fact that they represent something for the main characters?? That's deep stuff right there. ;)

    Clio sounds like a fantastic main character. I'm loving the sound of her empowerment, and the fact that she still is a confident woman above everything and has someone that respects her as well. That romance sounds absolutely stunning!! I love how they both have facades that eventually fade away. My very favorite kind of romance.

    Lovely, lovely review as always Keertana! <33

  6. Sooo you put perfectly into words something I do, too, that I've never really realized - imagining how a secondary character's love story will go, and then maybe being disappointed when what's in my head is better than what's on paper. I don't think it's happened as much for me as it has for you, but I definitely get ideas in my head and it sucks when things don't really go that direction!
    Anyway, I had trouble fully connecting to this story because I didn't like that Clio was engaged to the dude's brother, but overall it's still one of the better HRs out there. Lovely review, lady!

  7. I ABSOLUTELY 100% agree with what you said about HRs and companion novels. I feel like a lot of adult contemporary also does that which is why I end up doing something similar with adult contemporary as well as HR. I usually never read companion novels and what I might do is just pick a book in the series that appeals most to me and read that instead.

    MOVING ON. I am doing cartwheels right now because I had no idea that the companion novels in this series featured completely different characters rather than secondary characters from the previous book. I already own this book so I guess I have some reading to do!

    Gorgeous review as always, Keertana! You always manage to get me so excited about things :P (No joke... I am pretty much jumping up and down in my chair)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  8. Can you believe I have NEVER read an historical romance novel? I'm SOOO curious to start though. And this one looks really good. I'm loving the cover. Annddd, I have to agree, I usually stay far away from secondary novel characters because...well, what if it isn't as good as the previous series was?

  9. Can you believe I have NEVER read an historical romance novel? I'm SOOO curious to start though. And this one looks really good. I'm loving the cover. Annddd, I have to agree, I usually stay far away from secondary novel characters because...well, what if it isn't as good as the previous series was?

  10. You are SOOOO right! I think this was actually my first Tessa Dare? Maybe? And I read everything she's written immediately after. Her characters are fun and funny, independent without being strident about it (a no-no in that time!). love. LOVE!

  11. This is actually making me excited so much! I've seen the author's name a couple of times from other reviewers (and I know for certain that Khanh loves her work), and I've heard that she really writes amazing historical romances (which I've been meaning to explore for a time now). Makes me really happy that this is very female empowering and that it was even with a forbidden romance to boot! I'll have to try ALL the installments in this series!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  12. Actually historical romance is not my genre, but Rachel from Readers Den totally made me want to read this series. I’m so glad you love it too, Keertana. Now I’m dying to read it myself. As always beautifully written and very informative review.


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