Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

romancing the dukeReviewed by Jen

I loved this book! Generally speaking, I enjoy every story I read from Tessa Dare, but this is definitely one of my favorites!  It has a wonderfully tortured, scarred, blind hero –and a resourceful, funny, and unattractive heroine.  It made me laugh. It made my pulse pound.  And it even made me a little bit misty. [Read more…]

Review: Any Duchess Will Do

Reviewed by Jen

You can’t go wrong with the Spindle Cove series. This fourth installment throws together an unlikely pair, but it totally delivers on everything I have come to love about these books.  It’s charming; it’s sexy; it has superbly drawn characters; and I completely believed in the romance.

Griffin York is a wealthy and successful duke known more for his debauchery than anything else.  His mother is desperate for him to marry and produce an heir, but she is having no luck convincing him to give her a grandchild. So she takes him to Spindle Cove with an offer in hand. He can pick any woman there and she’ll turn make her into a duchess inside of a month. If she is successful, Griff will propose; if not, his mother promises never to pursue the issue again.  Thinking himself quite clever, he chooses the least likely duchess he can find: a serving girl named Pauline.

Pauline has no social graces, but she works hard and cares deeply for her disabled sister. When Griff makes his offer, she decides to ride it out. He even sweetens the pot by offering her cash to foil his mother’s plans. Unfortunately, neither counted on how quickly they would fall for one another.

Obviously, this is Pygmalion-esque, but there are other things going on to give it a fresh feel. Most notably, that includes the real reason Griff refuses to wed.  It’s not a big shocker or anything, but his circumstances give his character much more depth –and make him very sympathetic.  True, he is an asshat at times, but it was never so much that I couldn’t forgive or understand why he was acting the way he did.  Dare has crafted an emotionally fragile man who simply doesn’t know how to deal with his own tragic loss.  And it’s very satisfying to watch Pauline help him face his demons and allow hope back into his heart.

Pauline comes a long way in a short time, and I didn’t completely buy that she would progress so much in just a few days. However, it was easy to push that away because I enjoyed the romance so much, I just wanted to concentrate on that.  The sexual tension is good. The payoff is hot.  –I loved that she wasn’t a virgin and I equally loved Griff’s reaction when he found out.

All in all, I really liked this one –and would definitely recommend.  You don’t have to read the other Spindle Cove books to jump in. Though we do revisit some of the characters and events, this works great as a stand-alone.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Any Duchess Will Do
by Tessa Dare
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Avon

Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith

Reviewed by Jen

Oh Tessa Dare, you had me at “blacksmith.” My only complaint about this fantastic little Spindle Cove novella is that is wasn’t a full length book.  I really enjoyed it.  And for the record, it works easily as a standalone, even if you’ve never read from the series before.

Our heroine, Diana, is a gentlewoman, but she only has eyes for Aaron, the town smithy.  For years, she has held a torch for him in silence, finding reasons to visit the forge –even if she has to break her own jewelry.  Aaron is just as smitten as she is, but never dreamed there could be a chance for him with their difference in social station.  But he’s starting to realize there may be a reason for all of her visits.  So he decides to take a chance and call her on it.

Diana doesn’t admit her feelings immediately, but it doesn’t take long.  The story follows the two of them as they begin to spend more time together, to see if something more than a friendship can ever bloom between them.

I love the lady and the lower-class man trope. Especially when the heroine sees the value of her hero and never considers herself better than him.  I loved how Aaron worried that he wasn’t good enough, yet he did everything right.  The romance was sweet, but it had solid sexual tension and a very satisfying payoff.

It was very good and I would definitely recommend.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Beauty and the Blacksmith
by Tessa Dare
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Avon

Review: A Lady by Midnight

Reviewed by Jen

I am a sucker for heroes who think themselves unworthy of their heroine.  Especially when they are the strong silent type.  Colonel Samuel Thorne delivers all of this in spades.  He is sexy. He is damaged. He is honorable. And he is completely and totally smitten by Spindle Cove’s music teacher, Kate Taylor.

Of course, Kate has no idea that Thorne feels anything but disgust for her. He studiously avoids her, and Kate’s low self esteem draws the absolute worst conclusions.  After all, she has a birthmark on her face that people have stared at all of her life.  She grew up in orphanage. No family. No love. She has made friends since moving to Spindle Cove, but no man has ever shown her any attention.

As the story begins, Kate is on a mission to learn about the family she never knew. She visits her old school-mistress out of town and the woman treats her cruelly. To make matters worse, she misses the coach back home and is nearly stuck on the streets for the night, until Thorne comes to her rescue and offers her a ride.  It’s in that journey back to town that everything changes between them.

Kate and Thorne share a memorable kiss during the ride back, waking her up to feelings she has never had before.  Thorne wants her, but believes her too good for him. He comes from nothing.  He has a criminal past and no breeding.  And he is afraid that if he spends too much time with Kate, she will eventually remember their childhood together and the brothel where they grew up.  He refuses to allow her to face such horrible memories.

In the meantime, a wealthy family arrives in Spindle Cove, claiming to be Kate’s long lost family.  Thorne questions their motives and claims to be Kate’s fiance to protect her from whatever nefarious thing they may be planning.  She is willing to go along with his plan –and from there, their fake engagement somehow becomes very, very real.

I liked Kate.  She is very genuine and really only wants to know love. Not just romantic love, but any love.  She thinks she is a throw-away and Thorne’s attentions make her come alive.  There were a few times I was surprised at how she put herself out there to him, despite his reticence. But I loved Thorne so much.  I needed him to find some happiness and it was lovely watching Kate show him his worth.

Their path is rocky at times, but it is very rewarding.  The writing is so good. Tessa Dare really put me inside her characters’ heads and hearts.  The pacing is great.  The sexual tension is fabulous.  And the characters are insanely easy to root for.  This is really a good one.

Rating: A-

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
A Lady by Midnight
by Tessa Dare
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon