Tag Archives: Tessa Dare

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started


  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre


  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

Links to my reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Castles Ever After Series: Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare

With a couple of days off work and my willing suspension of disbelief primed, I was ready to embark on the new Tessa Dare historicalish romance. “Historicalish”? It’s because of all the autobuy/truly enjoyable authors out there, Dare is the one who most pushes the credulity envelope* (much like that phrasing). Also, it sounds a little bit like ticklish and Say Yes to the Marquess is very funny, a truly entertaining read, and another romp to add to her catalogue.

I feel like I could lift excerpts of my reviews of several Dare books and plunk them down right here. That is not a criticism as, luckily, Say Yes to the Marquess has all of her most successful elements: Wit, fun, great smolder, a hero convinced of his unworthiness, an immensely capable heroine taking control of her own life, and whimsy. The main characters are well-rounded and the supporting characters interesting, including the heroine’s socially awkward sister who seems to be on what we would call “the spectrum” and they would call eccentric.

Clio has been waiting eight years for her fiance, Piers, to return from diplomatic service on the continent. Still a teenager when she was betrothed, she put up with her mother’s carefully grooming her to become a lovely automaton of a spouse. With her mother gone and left a castle in a will – the Castles Ever After series MacGuffin – Clio is done with waiting. In order to extricate herself from her engagement and get one with an independent life, she must first get Piers’ brother/representative Rafe to sign the papers ending her affianced state.

Shagging and punching his way to notoriety, Rafe Brandon is an aristocratic rake living outside society as a pugilist. He has known and wanted Clio his entire life. Despite this, he feels he owes it to his brother to keep Clio on her way down the aisle. To do so, he decides what she really needs is to get excited about the wedding. Moving in with her and the assorted other colourful supporting characters, Rafe goes out his way to offer flowers, dresses, and cakes to convince Clio marriage to Piers has been worth the wait. One can imagine how that turns out because Say Yes to the Marquess  is exactly the delightful kind of escapism Dare excels at.

You can find a complete summary of Tessa Dare’s catalogue, including recommendations, here.

*Tirade Irrelevant to My Review:

I honestly don’t know what the hell is wrong with me and my stunted, chattering, so-called willing suspension of disbelief. I read a delightful, deftly written book and the whole time my brain is voicing quibbles about realism and historical detail even though:

a. I am a pretentious twit to think I am so well-informed as to be the arbiter of such things.
b. It’s a freaking historical romance. Escapism is the point of the genre.
c. A white wedding dress? This is the Regency. Wasn’t that a Victorian convention?
d. Could Clio even own property outright as an unmarried woman?
e. Against the bedpost in the middle of the day? They are less uptight than hippies in a commune!
f. Would it be possible to get ready made items, be they cake or clothing, without lots of advance notice?
g. SEE?! I am insufferable. Who do I think I am? I’m not a history professor. I’m not an expert, I have a smidgen of period knowledge based on one semester of Jane Austen and whatever social history I have gleaned from episodes of Masterpiece Theatre. It’s ridiculous and my brain will not shut up!

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful which includes the aforementioned observations.

P.S. When I cross-posted this on the Cannonball Read site, I tweeted about the posting and then Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan responded on Twitter and the review! The summary of the Twitter conversation can be found here. [Insert excited flailing here.]


Tessa Dare’s Catalogue


The Stud Club Trilogy:
One Dance with a Duke – some structural issues, great characters and [fans self] smolder
Twice Tempted by a Rogue – a much too literally tortured hero for my tastes
Three Nights with a Scoundrel – Dare hitting her stride with a well-intentioned rake

Spindle Cove Series:
A Night to Surrender – Good, not great.
Once Upon a Winter’s Eve – Pleasant novella
A Week to Be Wicked delightful romp, fabulous hero
A Lady by Midnight – Fantastic smolder, sincere love story, some heavy plotting
Beauty and the Blacksmith – very good, but not great, and worth reading
Any Duchess Will Do – Strained credulity overruled by a heartfelt love story, highly recommended

Castles Ever After Series:
Romancing the Duke – hellaciously twee
Say Yes to the Marquess – fun, light romp, recommended
When a Scot Ties the Knot – meh
Do You Want to Start a Scandal? – no romantic chemistry

Girl Meets Duke Series:
The Duchess Deal – very good, recommended
The Governess Game  – surprisingly entertaining plot moppets
The Wallflower Wager – pretty good

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright an absolute gem of a novella
How to Catch a Wild Viscount – early novella, don’t bother, choose an option from above

How to Catch a Wild Viscount by Tessa Dare

Read The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright instead. It’s wonderful.

How to Catch a Wild Viscount came as part of a 99 cent novella set. The grouping includes works by Courtney Milan, Caroline Linden, and other current authors. I quite like novellas as they are a quick read and strip the story down to its bare bones, but what I just said is the only reason to read this book. It’s an early work by an author on my autobuy list, Tessa Dare, and I just wanted to see what it was like.

From Amazon: She’s on the hunt for a hero…

Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt, returned from war a changed man. Battle stripped away his civility and brought out his inner beast. There is no charm or tenderness in him now; only dark passions and a hardened soul. He has nothing to offer the starry-eyed, innocent girl who pledged her heart to him four years ago.

But Cecily Hale isn’t a girl any longer. She’s grown into a woman–one who won’t be pushed away. She and Luke are guests at a house party when a local legend captures their friends’ imaginations. While the others plunge into the forest on a wild goose…er, stag chase, Cecily’s on the hunt for a man. She has only a few moonlit nights to reach the real Luke…the wounded heart she knows still beats inside the war-ravaged body…or she could lose him to the darkness forever.

It’s a pleasant little novella, but certainly nothing to make an effort to seek out. Dare has published many works since this one and while it isn’t bad, they are all better. Yes, even the one I hated. The plot of How to Catch a Wild Viscount (summarized above) has a paranormal element involving a “werestag” and unless you are Kresley Cole and I can write angry, spiteful reviews of your works, I have no interest in mythical creatures be they metaphorical or literal.

One interesting note: The main characters engage in an act against the drawing room wall and while Ms. Dare writes world-class [insert funky bass-line here] and is the willing-suspension-of-disbeliefiest of all my favourite authors, there is NO WAY IN HELL they doing that in the middle of the day in a public room, Regency or otherwise.

A complete summary of Tessa Dare’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful which includes the aforementioned observations.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Continue reading

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright is a gem. A delightful Regency romance pared down to its bare bones, this quick read is a perfect of example of what a novella can be and why I love them. There are no machinations, diversions, or distractions. Tessa Dare provides a witty, bright, engaging love story focused entirely on the winning main characters.

Owing to a pubescent scandal, Eliza Cade has been sentenced to wait to enter society until her older sisters are married. Hers is an adventurous spirit and Eliza is clamoring against the wait for her life to begin. Nonetheless, at the age of eighteen, she manages to encounter the scandalous, dissolute, no-good Mr. Harry Wright at a party when he has tucked himself away in a side room waiting for an assignation to begin. Harry takes to Eliza instantly and it is clear they are well matched, but she is too young and he too worldly for anything to come of their undeniable appeal for each other.

The novella proceeds to bounce through their subsequent encounters, some separated by a year or more, as Eliza matures and Harry tries to manage, and eventually succumbs to, his attraction to her. It is never once inappropriate or discomfiting. Rather, it progresses from “I recognize myself in you” and “you are such fun to talk to” towards deeper, mature feelings. The story is entertaining, consistently funny, and absolutely charming, plus it’s only $.99 for your e-reader.

A complete summary of Tessa Dare’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.


Castles Ever After Series: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

[stunned silence followed by vociferous string of profanity-laden expostulations]

That was a change of pace. Well-written. It seems historical romance author Tessa Dare is going in a new direction, one more whimsiquirkilicious than I had anticipated. I have never given my Kindle the side-eye before. And I did, in fact, resist the temptation to throw it across the room. That counts as a victory. And that was certainly the most expletives I have ever let loose while reading a love story. A lot of new things today, it seems.

[cleansing breaths]
[re-reading most of the book]

“I believe there are two ways of writing novels. One is making a sort of musical comedy without music and ignoring real life altogether; the other is going deep down into life and not caring a damn,” said P.G. Wodehouse, giving a surprisingly apt posthumous description of Romancing the Duke.

Delightful historical romance author Tessa Dare has abandoned the ladies of Spindle Cove and embarked on a new series called “Castles Ever After”. As the name suggests, this new novel has a fairy tale undertone/overtone, not to mention many clever references to classics of the romance genre. Dare writes incredibly consistent and enjoyable stories, but of all the authors whose work I buy automatically, Dare is the one who most often requires a willing suspension of disbelief. Romancing the Duke broke mine, Dare BROKE IT, with this playful and quirky novel.

Doubt not that Tessa Dare’s tongue was firmly planted in her cheek: Isolde Ophelia Goodnight’s father not only saddled her with a tragedy-in-waiting name, he left her penniless and alone. Summoned to Gostley Castle in hopes of claiming a bequest from an anonymous benefactor, she instead encounters a derelict estate and its equally derelict ducal inhabitant, Ransom, Duke of Rothbury, who will serve as the tortured hero for the purposes of the story. He’s as big, brooding, and gorgeous as one looks for in such characters. Ransom is just sitting around waiting for the redemptive power of love to bring him back into the world. It’s a good start.

The ermine was a bad sign. Izzy has a pet ermine which, in her defense, was a gift from a fan of her father’s serialized medieval fairy tale. She brings it with her to the castle and they both stay when she discovers that the estate has been bequeathed to her. This comes as quite a shock to Ransom as he did not know the castle had been either a) up for sale or b) sold. His recent blindness has left him a little behind in his correspondence. Things should have proceeded apace from there, but the hijinks, DEAR LORD, the hijinks that ensued.

I had not anticipated costume play or live action role-playing in a Regency romance. I daresay few have. I daresay I’m not even sure it was a Regency romance. It was more of a historically-indeterminate homage to a Gothic novel: the truculent hero; the crumbling castle; the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed destitute heroine; things that go bump in the night; sexual tension; aggressive carnivorous pets; plot elements that are picked up and dropped; inexplicable character shifts; and the almost successful interplay of the love story and whimsy. It was all so cute, I cringed. I wanted a love story, not a Duke getting his LARP on.

I’m not sure who exactly this novel was written for. The short answer is, “Not me.” I get it. It’s not you, Romancing the Duke, it’s me. I was expecting a heartfelt love story with some of Dare’s trademark caprice and smolder, but instead the novel is a romp with an emphatic lack of connection to reality instead of the veneer-of-plausible-deniability connection to reality I look for in romances. It was not what I expected and it was not, like Ransom’s feelings for Izzy, everything I never knew I always wanted.

My partner-in-romance, Malin, loved the book. Check out her review for a different take on Romancing the Duke.

A complete summary of Tessa Dare’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.