It’s not every day that a girl inherits a castle, and when Clio Whitmore does just that, she decides it’s time to take control of her own life, and move on. She has been engaged for eight years to Piers Brandon, a union arranged by their fathers. Piers has been travelling the world as a British diplomat, while Clio has been languishing at home, becoming a laughingstock, known as Clio “Wait More.” But Clio is not going to wait any longer. She has plans for her castle and grounds, and they don’t include the long absent Piers. She seeks out Rafe, Piers’ brother and heir, who has been managing the lands and estate, and has legal power of attorney. Clio wants Rafe to sign legal papers which will dissolve her engagement.
Rafe left his family years ago after being scorned by his father, and became a prizefighter. He is now basically on the outside looking in on society. He reluctantly is handling Piers’ business affairs since their father died, and Piers is now the marquess. Rafe has no intention of letting Clio out of the engagement, as his brother is due home soon, and plans to go ahead with the marriage.
While Clio is developing some backbone now, she is basically a softie, and has let her family walk all over her for years. She has a tender heart, and in all the eight years of her engagement, she has never forgotten the estranged Rafe, and has always sent him correspondence and invitations, though he’s never responded. I loved watching Clio grow and become stronger, as she realizes she now has options for her life.
I found Rafe to be a bit of a puzzle at first. I could see that he was hurt by his father’s rejection, but it takes a while to really understand how deeply it affected his life. His determination to see Clio wed Piers was also puzzling. Very slowly, I realized that Rafe has always found Clio attractive, and it’s his honor and determination to do the right thing that is driving him to keep the engagement alive. Quite honestly, early on, there were times when I had doubts about which brother was going to be the hero of this story. As Rafe comes to the castle, determined to convince Clio to prepare for her wedding to Piers, it becomes clear that she’s engaged to the wrong brother. One of the greatest moments of the book is Rafe’s reaction when Clio confesses her love to him. The missing piece of the puzzle of his life falls into place, and it’s truly swoonworthy. Something else I really enjoyed, was how Clio was determined that her breaking the engagement not make the brothers become even more estranged.
Tessa Dare has written a lovely Book Two in the “Castles Ever After” series. In this case, the underdog comes out on top, and I always love that. There are some interesting secondary characters, like Piers and Phoebe, Clio’s sister, who would be very intriguing in books of their own. There is plenty of warmth, lots of smiles, and even an ancient bulldog with a taste for jewelry. This book is a winner, and I very much enjoyed the read.
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