I definitely should not have spent a bunch of time in my last review bloviating about whether I like novellas or not, because it seems they’re all I have time to read recently.
I’ve been waiting a long time for both of these to come off hold at the library, and perhaps it was the waiting making the reward all the sweeter, but these stories were both really enjoyable. I am not sure how else I can wax all poetical about the loveliness of Tessa Dare when she’s at the top of her game — I do it in about every review I write and I’m running out of superlative adjectives. But here we are.
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright (4.5 stars) is about Eliza Cade, who has been banned from coming out in society due to an innocent mistake when she was much younger that could nonetheless cause scandal and prevent her sisters from finding husbands. When the time finally seems to be drawing near for her to make her debut, she begins having run-ins with notorious rake Harry Wright, who not only entices her physically, but who also seems to understand her on a level that no one else does. I strongly suspect that one of the main reasons why this novella works so well — in addition to the usual Tessa Dare wit and smolder — is that it avoids the instalove and instant HEA by flashing forward in time periodically over a period of several years. The ONLY reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is because I’m a perv, basically, and I wanted another sex scene. That’s all! Otherwise this story was short, sweet, and pretty perfect.
Beauty and the Blacksmith (4 stars) was an utterly fantastical story from the Spindle Cove series involving the younger sister of A Week to be Wicked‘s heroine. I loved it, even if I was giggling like “This would never happen!” The title pretty much says it all — Diana, a well-bred beauty who seems destined to be married off to a fancy lord, instead spends her spare moments in Spindle Cove at the smithy, admiring Aaron, town blacksmith and certified hottie. We jump into their story after some years of stolen glances and longing, about the time where Aaron chooses to finally confront Diana about why she’s in the shop getting the same clasp repaired for the third time. Again, here, Dare avoids the instalove trope by establishing that these two have known and admired each other for awhile, so the time for readers to become acquainted is now when sparks are truly starting to fly. I love forbidden love and the idea of grungy sex on or near anvils, so I have to say this one brought the smolder for me in a way that Mr. Wright fell a little short, even if this one was a little shorter itself on character development. An added bonus here was the character selection, choosing another sister in the Highwood family, as the mother of the girls is a piece of work and seeing her get her comeuppance again is amusing and righteous.
[tosses a bag of thumbs up at both stories] My review muscles are fatigued and I need to take a mid-year break to finish my dissertation before I can crawl my way toward the double cannonball. Being behind sucks — as much for you as for me, I fear, since that means a lot more lazy and discombobulated reviews like this one. Sorry! Maybe just skip my entries until I give you the signal that my head is screwed on again!