Tag Archives: Tessa Dare

Review: Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

Cheryl’s Review of Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
Historical Romance released by Avon on December 30, 2014

Book CoverAfter eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother–even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

• He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.
• He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride–and tries not to picture her as his.
• He doesn’t kiss her.
• If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.
• When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.
• And no matter what–he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

Clio Whitmore was a patient woman. Engaged at the tender age of 17 to Lord Piers Brandon, the future Marquess of Granville, she agreed a long engagement would be for the best since she had no knowledge of how to run a diplomat’s household. She was content to be the dutiful bride-to-be. But as the years passed, she went from belle of the ball to a running joke, having bets placed on potential wedding dates and being referred to as Ms. “Waitmore”. When she inherits a castle of her very own from her Uncle Humphrey, Clio decides she’s done waiting. Only one thing stands in the way of her moving on with her life– her engagement. With Piers out of the country, she has to convince his younger brother, Rafe, to sign the dissolution papers. Continue reading

Review: Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Cheryl’s Review:

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Historical Romance released by Avon on May 28, 2013

What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season–or any season–but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training”… and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure–a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess–can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

Let me preface this review by saying I’m an unabashed Tessa Dare fan. It began with the first Spindle Cove novella, Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, and steamrolled from there. While impatiently waiting for the next book in the Spindle Cove series, I plowed through her entire backlist. And while I loved some books more than others, not once was I disappointed.

Pauline Simms is a barmaid at The Bull and Blossom, Spindle Cove’s unique tea room by day, tavern by night establishment. She’s strong, loyal and cusses like a sailor. What I adored most about Pauline was despite her being a serving girl, she aspires to something greater. A Duchess? Absolutely not. What she wants is to open a recirculating bookstore in Spindle Cove, to fill the shelves with poetry and romance and a little naughtiness as well.

Griffin York first appeared in Colin and Minerva’s story, A Week to be Wicked and he was a bad, bad man. Okay, not really. He was the stereotypical wealthy nobleman of many a historical novel who spent an exorbitant amount of money and time drinking, gambling, and bedding numerous women. He was a bad boy Duke with the reputation to prove it. But it became very clear early on that Griffin had changed. Drastically. Something so traumatic happened that not only made him change his ways, but retreat from society as well.

The progression of their relationship is very organic, both acknowledging this undeniable attraction between them. Also their class difference is a very prominent plot point. While Pauline finds a future with Griffin impossible, he doesn’t. Neither does his mother. It’s not that they are ignoring society’s established rules, but their vast wealth enables them to do what they want. If you are the fourth richest man in all of England, making people like you probably isn’t necessary or a priority. Also, I love that Griffin repeatedly points out his past is far from exemplary.

I would be remiss to not mention Griffin’s mother, the Duchess of Halford, as I regard her as the very best of secondary characters in the Spindle Cove series. First impressions led me to believe she was going to be an overbearing woman, forcing her son to produce an heir for family and country. Happily, I was proven wrong in my assumptions. It was lovely to see a mother with genuine concern for her son’s future happiness, even if she couldn’t bring herself to tell him this directly. And despite being the well-bred English rose, she too has her own quirks and imperfections.

Any Duchess Will Do certainly has a “My Fair Lady” quality, as well as “Pretty Woman.” When Griffin confronts a London bookseller regarding his mistreatment of Pauline days earlier, you know how it is going to end. You know what’s coming and love it despite its predictability. Writing characters that readers come to know and love is Tessa Dare’s specialty. Many of the tropes used have been seen time and time again in historical romance, but it’s the characters, who make us laugh and cry, that make this series truly special.

For those who’ve read the entire Spindle Cove series, the epilogue ties everything in a lovely bow, giving readers’ one last glimpse into the lives of characters we came to know and love. If you haven’t read any of the series, might I suggest you start at the beginning with A Night to Surrender and move on from there? You won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A

You can read an excerpt here, and buy a copy here.

Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Historical romance released by Avon on March 27, 2012

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin…
Time is not on their side.

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.
Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be… anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week
to fake an elopement
to convince family and friends they’re in “love”
to outrun armed robbers
to survive their worst nightmares
to travel four hundred miles without killing each other
All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.
And maybe…just maybe…love.

I really liked this book. A lot. Lot. I generally enjoy Tessa Dare’s writing, although I’m behind on her books. I didn’t feel lost at all, however. I love that each of Ms. Dare’s books stand alone. I think that’s really important in books, especially in series, but even in ones that are “spinoffs” or loosely connected.

Minerva is a lovely and fantastic heroine. In fact, she’s not “traditionally lovely.” She doesn’t turn heads or make people walk into things – but that’s inconsequential. Miranda is a complex character that you like from the start. She’s plucky, loyal, unconventional, and determined. How can you not like a woman with those characteristics? Not to mention smart. And she stands up for herself. Minerva calls Colin on all his bullshit. She doesn’t harp on him – when space is needed she gives it to him, but when it’s important to work through an issue, she presses. Minerva is the type of girl you want to be friends with, and simply want to be.

Colin is charming, to put it simply. He’s a jerk… but not an asshole. You know the guy that all the girls like, and he’s kinda blase about it, and not quite aware of the implications of his actions, but he isn’t malicious. Colin is actually a tiny bit clueless. Simply because he doesn’t have to be – or hasn’t had to be. In a way Colin is a bit hapless. He’s just existing, but without a purpose. He’s also displeased with how his life is, but doesn’t know how to go about changing it and more, at the moment the book begins, doesn’t quite care to. He’s a flawed hero, but definitely not irredeemable. He’s also got a subtle sense of humor. As long as he’s amused, his purpose is achieved.

I think a major part that I appreciated was that the characters talked to each other! I cannot express how much I appreciated that, and how grateful I am to Ms. Dare for the utter lack of head banging moments. I didn’t miss being frustrated at all. I didn’t think that Ms. Dare relied on any sort of crutches or stereotypes, or blatant (easily solvable) misunderstandings to further the plot. She actually had plot. It was fantastic.Then there’s the witty writing and dialogue. I don’t normally do this, but it seems trite to just talk about how refreshing and enjoyable Ms. Dare’s writing is – so I’m giving you examples.

[Colin] watched, incredulous, as the stark raving mad girl sank into the water. Knee-deep. Then waist-deep. Then all the way to her neck.

“Come out of there,” he said, sounding distressingly like a nursemaid, even to his own ears. “This instant.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s April. And freezing.” And because I’m suddenly curious to see you wit, without the mud. I didn’t even have a chance to appreciate the view the other night. Her shoulders lifted in a shrug. “It’s not so bad, once you grow used to it.”

For God’s sake, look at the girl. Teeth chattering, lips turning blue. Beneath that horrid garment, her nipples probably freezing to little icicles. And she seriously expected him to join her? Him, and all his precious, highly-susceptible-to-extreme-temperature bits?

“Listen, Madeline. There’s been some misunderstanding. I’m not here for a swim. We need to talk.”

“And I need to show you an inlet, around those rocks. There’s no other way to get there but to swim. We’ll talk when we arrive.” She cocked her head. “You’re not frightened, are you?”

Frightened. Ha. What was that he heard, splashing into the water? Must have been a gauntlet.

And then this.

“Jesus,” he finally managed, pushing water off his face.

“Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. For that matter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.” Still not enough. He needed to reach back to the Old Testament for this. “Obidiah. Nebuchadnezzar. Methuselah and Job.”

“Be calm,” she said, taking him by the shoulders. “Be calm. And there are women in the Bible, you know.”

And because it fits with a tie in – and shows the great writing as well…

And just like that, his control was gone. He reached for her, gripping her by the thighs. Holding her close and tight as she plundered his mouth with bold, innocent abandon. With her kiss, his whole body came alive. Not just his body. Something stirred in the region of his heart, as well.

Jesus. Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Delilah, Jezebel, Salome, Judith, Eve. Trouble, every last one. Add Minerva Highwood to the list.

I think what really works with this romance is that Colin and Minerva are forced to spend so much time with each other in close quarters. It really makes the romance believable, even though they’re only together for less than a fortnight – you know it’ll work. Not just that, but how Colin took the time to think up all sorts of other “M” names to tease Minerva with. It shows that even though nobody realized it, she registered on his radar long ago.

It’s good because this isn’t just the journey of Colin and Minerva’s relationship developing, but Minerva’s self discovery. She learns there’s so much more to her beyond her learning, and that she’s been pigeonholed by her mother and family – however right or wrong, intentionally, or not. It was also fun to see the mad cap journey and things Minerva and Colin do. There are of course darker moments too, that are emotional and just kill you.  It’s the full package.

My only complaint would be two minor things. First the format. Maybe it was that I was reading an ARC and the formatting was a tiny bit distracting at times. I really really tried to not hold it against the book, so maybe I shouldn’t even have mentioned it. Ah well. Next… the tie in for the next book. It wasn’t necessary to the story, and the book would not have suffered for it had the entire scene been cut. It was patently obvious to me it was written for the next book. I did love the blurb for it though, so I’m more inclined to forgive that. If you like historical romances, you definitely need to read this book. If you like quality writing with reasonable, yet interesting characters, A Week to be Wicked should make it to your TBR. I also have started re-reading the book again, and I might even be liking it more the second time.So… instead of a B+ I’m going with…

Grade: A-

You can also read an excerpt here, and buy the book here.

*ETA: Tessa Dare is running a contest for A Week to Be Wicked! See?
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Special Operation Auction Book Video

Remember when I talked about Operation Auction? It was a huge success. Seems like so long ago, but it really wasn’t… anyway, one of the items up for bid was a book video made by Tessa Dare. She’s become very well known for creating entertaining (and informative!) book videos using only the toys in her children’s room. Maya Banks won the bid… and this is the result.

So now you know why so many people are talking about Ken in KiltsTrews. The books in question are as follows.

They release on August 30, September 27, and October 25 respectively. So you can get them back to back to back! Yay! I have to say, I’m intrigued. What about you?