Monthly Archives: December 2013

Review: Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare

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5Stars

Violet is passably fair, speaks six modern languages (and can read a few dead ones) and the daughter of a respectable family, but since The Disappointment, she’s hiding out and avoiding marriage in Spindle Cove. She is content with her wallflower status until a mysterious stranger bursts into the Christmas Ball and collapses at her feet, muttering an unknown language.

His dirty, coarse attire and good looks don’t escape Violet’s notice. Neither does the familiarity his presence brings her. Is he a smuggler? A French spy? A criminal? She wants answers, but the man seems bent on seduction. And Violet doesn’t know if she can resist or if she even wants to.

Despite its novella length, “Once Upon a Winter’s Eve” is engaging, full, rich and heartfelt. The characters have personalities and histories which Tessa Dare explores in a way that is never jarring or out of place. She uses a deft hand as she moves the story through nearly farcical events without ever going over the edge and becoming goofy.

Violet may be characterized as a shy wallflower, but that is really a self-assessment. When it comes down to it, she proves that there is more to her than even she knows. And her development and strength shows the reader how confidence and love can unleash a person’s true potential.

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve” is a must read and is only available online.

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Filed under Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare

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4Stars

In her last Spinster Cove novella “Beauty and the Blacksmith,” Dare features characters whose love story is briefly glanced over all the way back in book one of the Spindle Cove series, “A Night to Surrender”. And because of conversations alluding to the past, the story and the couple feel like they have a history which enriches the novella.

Lady Diana Highwood spends her days breaking her necklace so that the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes, has to fix it. It gives her an excuse to drop by and just see him despite knowing that no matter what her heart says a match with Aaron will not please her mother.

Tessa Dare is a master of the romance novella. Her novellas have the feel of a full and robust full-length novel despite the smaller page count. The love, the hope and the hardships facing Diana and Aaron never suffer from its novella length. Their story is just as important and Dare gives them the story they–and the readers need.

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Filed under Avon, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Just a Hint–Clint by Lori Foster

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3Stars

The fourth book in Foster’s Visitation series, “Just a Hint – Clint” begins when plain schoolteacher, Julie Rose, is kidnapped and mercenary Clint Evans is hired to save her. They are different in many ways, but with her life in danger, Clint and Julie grow closer together and find that being different might not be so bad after all.

One of Lori Foster’s greatest strength is weaving humor into her romances.  There is a small bit of levity in the story even when the characters are a bit shell-shocked and on the run. It prevents the story from becoming too melodramatic. The characters of Visitation are only in a small portion of the story, but they still retain their charm and provide a much wanted update of past couples.

The relationship between Clint and Julie grows quickly, but it doesn’t seem improbable. It is instantly obvious that they both find each other appealing. As they learn more about themselves and each other, they realize that maybe what they have is more than just lust and adrenaline. Both the readers and Julie and Clint will feel like they belong with one another.

You do not need to have read the other books in Foster’s Visitation series to enjoy “Just a Hint—Clint.” Unlike the others in the series, this novel has the least to do with the other four books and is more of an aside than part of the overall series plot.

This is an oldie, but definitely still a worthwhile read.

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Filed under Contemporary, Review, Romance Novel, Zebra

Review: A Return Engagement by Stephanie Laurens

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2Stars

Nine years ago Lady Nell Daughtry was being wooed by the man she loved, but when he failed to come up to scratch, she was left alone and heartbroken. Now, her sister is set to marry the prince of Lautenburg.

 

She knows Frances loves Prince Frederick as much as he loves her and her wild bouts of panic-stricken nerves mean nothing. All Nell needs to do is make sure her sister gets to the altar without bolting. Her only ally in this is the very man who failed to propose to her, diplomat Lord Robert Knightley.

 

A long time ago, I tried to read a novel by Stephanie Laurens (a Cynster novel) and I couldn’t finish it. I don’t know why. It could have been the story or the writing the style. Now, years later, I thought I’d give a Stephanie Laurens novella.

 

While “A Return Engagement” (originally printed in the “Royal Bridesmaids” anthology) is well-written, I did not find it enjoyable.

 

The story just lacked passion. I could believe that Nell and Robert loved each other, but it is a tepid love. The bland like feel of the story never seemed to dissipate and instead continued on to a lackluster ending.

 

I’d only recommend this novella if you are a diehard fan of Stephanie Laurens, but would suggest that you pay the $1 extra to get the anthology “Royal Bridesmaids” which includes this novella as well as ones by Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase.

 

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Filed under Avon, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Blue By You by Rachel Gibson

3Stars

When she was eighteen, Blue Butler gave her virginity to Kasper Pennington, whose family has been feuding with hers for over a century. Their chemistry was explosive, but the next morning he was gone and she was left to move on.

Kasper left Blue and his hometown for a career in the Marines and now he’s back and ready to right past mistakes. But twenty-two years is a long time and Kasper has to prove to Blue that despite everything, they are still meant to be.

Blue By You is a standalone novella set in post-Katrina Louisiana from veteran contemporary romance writer Rachel Gibson. It’s a story that shows us that it is never too late to right past wrongs, especially if love is involved.

The character of Blue is strong and the reader gets a feel for what she’s been through since she and Kasper last hooked up. Unfortunately the character development for Kasper lacks a bit until the very end. Due to this, the romance between the two seems a bit unfulfilling, but not enough to ruin the experience.

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Filed under Avon, Contemporary, Review, Romance Novel

Review: The Eighth Night by Sandra Sookoo

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2Stars

In the aftermath of Christmas, some people might feel the holiday has become too commercialized. If that is you, then maybe THE EIGHTH NIGHT is for you. Brooke is an orphan who works in a grocery store. Occasionally, Eli Goodman would pass through her line. They’d smile, maybe flirt a little before he grabs his bags and leaves.

Unexpectedly, Eli asks Brooke to join him and his family for the first night of Hanukkah dinner. Hoping to frustrate his mother by bringing a shikse (non-Jewish woman) home with him, Eli succeeds in angering his mother, but he starts seeing Brooke in a new light. She’s no longer a tool to raise his mother’s ire.

When you really look at THE EIGHTH NIGHT, the characters feel a bit one dimensional. Brooke is mopey and disenfranchised with the Christmas season and her own sad backstory of being an orphan. She is merely dragged to the Goodman’s Hanukkah celebration and who occasionally gets miffed at the hero. Eli, on the other hand, likes Hanukkah and begins to appreciate it more when he brings Brooke to the gatherings. What should be a lovely story about discovering the true meaning of the holidays turns into a story that leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth about Christmas, which can be a turn off for some readers.

THE EIGHTH NIGHT is well written with an interesting plot. Unfortunately, that does not make up for the unappealing characters.

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Filed under Contemporary, Liquid SilverBooks, Review, Romance Novel