Tag Archives: Tessa Dare

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 probation right now actually)
Laura Florand Though she stopped publishing.
Talia Hibbert
Lisa Kleypas   The Queen for a very long time. Her back catalog is very deep and strong.
Julie Anne Long  Historicals only
Courtney Milan  The. Very. Best.
Lucy Parker Delightful. witty contemporaries
Sally Thorne Because her debut was just that good!

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.


Spindle Cove Series: Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Desperate for grandchildren and a Dower House, Her Grace the Duchess of Halford has gone to the trouble of drugging her son, Griffin York, His Grace the Duke of Halford, and bringing him to Spindle Cove. Familiar to Tessa Dare readers as the setting of her current series, it’s a convenient location for duchess hunting, rife with eligible young ladies who don’t fit into Society for one reason or another. Her Grace insists that her son pick somebody, ANYBODY, and she will mold a Duchess out of the woman. Griff, vexed and still half-lit, picks the barmaid, Pauline Simms, to irk his mother, and because the little voice inside him whispers, “Her. I’ll take her.” Pauline is an astute, purposeful, and engaging woman with a challenging home life. Griff offers her an obscene amount of money to humour his mother and fail spectacularly at “duchess training”.

I’ve written before about the two basic heroes in historical romance novels: The Rake and The Protector. This may be the first novel I’ve ever read in which a character readers met as a Rake in an earlier story is reintroduced later in the midst of transforming himself into a Protector. When Tessa Dare’s readers first met Griff in A Week to Be Wicked, he was a dissipated, dissolute, hedonistic sybarite. He fit a lot into a couple of pages. His Grace wasn’t exactly hero material, but that was Dare’s challenge. You have to bring them low to build them up. Griff had been brought very low indeed before the story began and, I have to say, I don’t think I’ve seen an unapologetic rake so completely redeemed since Sebastian St. Vincent took a bullet for Evie Jenner in The Devil in Winter.

Any Duchess Will Do is a very good historical romance: clever, sweet, sexy, and, yes, romantic. Tessa Dare’s books are always a great deal of fun and often more than slightly implausible. My review of her recent novella, Beauty and the Blacksmith, included my thoughts on the willing suspension of disbelief in romance in general and with this writer in particular. Dare pulls the story off much more successfully in this case because, frankly, the hero is a Duke and rich as Croesus, and because Dare takes a romance trope and gives it enough of a twist to make it sufficiently crediblesque to maintain the illusion. For readers of the series, she has some savvy reincorporation, which was absolutely necessary to keep the willing suspension of disbelief going, although she was less successful in bringing back her most popular characters from A Week to Be Wicked and That Other Book I Didn’t Like as Much.

Reviewer’s Note: I sincerely hope that someone somewhere in the romance sub-culture is making a list of all the things Dare’s heroes compare their telltale masculine firmness to. She has a particular gift for wry metaphor in this area.

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.


Spindle Cove Series: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare

I’m not going to lie: I love the cheesy title. It sets just the right tone.

Tessa Dare is one of five writers on my historical romance autobuy list and she earned her place there owing to sheer entertainment value. There are different ways for these books to be enjoyable, but Dare’s best books are of the “romp” variety. She is such fun! Oh, there will come a time when she will challenge your profound willingness to suspend your disbelief, but it will be (mostly) be worth it.

Dare’s current series is set in the small seaside town of Spindle Cove where young single women go to recuperate from illness, embarrassment, and/or hide from the world. Local resident Mrs. Highwood has three daughters: Charlotte, for whom I hope a story is in the offing; Minerva, a spectacled academic who has recently married a lord (A Week to Be Wicked); and her favourite daughter, the ethereally lovely Diana, on whom Mrs. Highwood has pinned all of her ambitions. It was Diana’s poor health that brought the family to Spindle Cove and while it worked as a restorative, it also left her at a loose end: Now that she is healthy and has a full life to look forward to, Diana has to decide what kind of life she wants.

Before I had even begun reading Beauty and the Blacksmith, my willing suspension of disbelief was being challenged. Diana couldn’t seriously end up with a blacksmith, could she? Is he the younger son of a lord in hiding? Did he watch Diana from the edge of ballrooms and follow her here? I was very curious to find out because of all the tropes of historical romance that I question, the marriage between someone from the gentry and someone “low born” is the one I regard with the most jaundiced pseudo-historical eye. Unless one of them is rich (him, always him), then all bets are off.

All bets are on. Aaron Dawes, while a strapping sweetheart of a man, is really a blacksmith. One who makes jewelry on the side and this could turn into a loftier career for him, but a blacksmith nonetheless. It fits in nicely with cowboy/fireman/fighter pilot on the Pyramid of Manly Professions, but it slaps the face of historical reality. Dare’s characters get away with all sort of suspension of disbelief-y shenanigans, but this was too much for me. The voice in my head kept saying, “But he’s a blacksmith, but he’s a blacksmith, BUT HE’S A BLACKSMITH,” with ever-increasing volume and HTML formatting. What that voice really meant is that something fell flat in making the pairing sufficiently believable. Diana and Aaron have been mooning over each other from a distance for two years, but how exactly did this mutual yen turn into a convention defying love? Dare included discussions of the ramifications of the relationship, but not enough attention was given to the actual falling in love part of the story.  Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy the novella, even disregarding the even more patently ridiculous things that happened later because of the “romp” factor,  I really did. It just wasn’t quite as fantastic as it could have been.

If you have an e-reader and 99 cents, Dare has a novella called The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright which is charming. Her best novel, so far, is A Week to Be Wicked, and she has one called Any Duchess Will Do (read: The Duke and The Barmaid) coming out at the end of May. I have already “autobought” it.

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.