This is the second book in the Castles Ever After series, which started with Romance the Duke. I enjoyed the first one, but this one blew it out of the water. Just to be on the safe side, I want to give a trigger warning. There are topics of disordered eating and weight loss pressure. Though I thought this was handled well in the context of the story, it might possibly be a trigger for anyone dealing with related issues.
A man who has turned his back on society to be a fighter has to convince his brother’s fiance to stay engaged so that he can continue fighting while his brother takes over lordly duties. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
The Good Stuff
Clio is awesome as a lady who has decided she wants her independence after the man she agreed to marry has left her alone for 8 years. Now that she’s inherited a castle, she has the means to do so…as long as her fiance’s brother will sign the papers needed to make it so. I loved her determination and the fact that she never once thought she needed to be married to be successful. Oh, and she wants to run a brewery! How awesome is that?
There were some great scenes with her and Rafe, including a wedding cake food fight that cracked me up. I liked the playfulness of Clio’s character against the hard ass nature of Rafe’s.
I loved Clio’s younger sister, and I thought that her having Aspberger’s (not named in the book, but described as such) added an interesting element to story. There was definitely a theme of self acceptance and loving people for who they are, and this tied into a strong message of body positivity.
The Romance Factor
I had all the feels for Rafe, who knew he couldn’t take his brother’s fiance. It was like a story of impossible love, even though I knew it would end well for the couple. Still…feels. 5/5
The Steam Factor
There is a scene where Rafe barely touches Clio, knowing he can’t, and instead stands close to her and tells her all the things he fantasizes about doing with her. For a scene that had no actual sex, it was very erotic and very sensual. The other steamy scenes were just as good, but that scene alone boosts this factor to a 6/5.
The 3rd one in this series just came out, and I’m 4th on the waiting list at the library. I can’t wait to read it. If the rest of the books are as good as this one, it might be another series I try to collect.