Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Once Upon A Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare

       Title: Once Upon A Winter’s Eve
              A Spindle Cove Novella
       Author: Tessa Dare
       Release Date: November 15, 2011
       Publisher: Samhain Publishing
       Category: Historical Romance
       Type: Kindle
       Ms. Dare’s Website

Some wallflowers bloom at night...
A Spindle Cove Novella
Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.
Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.
Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.
She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.
Warning: The heroine packs a pistol, the hero curses in multiple languages, and together they steam up a cold winter’s night.

What Violet noticed was a shriek. The startled cry pierced the crowded ballroom, freezing them all in place.
“Dear Lord,” she muttered. “What was that?”
“What is that?” Kate asked.
The other guests pressed to the edges of the ballroom, revealing what Violet could not see. A set of doors that opened onto the garden had been flung open.
A figure stood silhouetted in the entry. Tall. Dark. Menacing.
The militiamen reached for the sabers slung at their sides. Violet would have felt more reassured if she didn’t know they were ornamental blades, better suited for slicing soft cheese than running an intruder through.
As the host, lord, and commanding officer, Lord Rycliff stepped forward. “Who are you?” he demanded. “What do you want?”
No answer.
But one thing was obvious, immediately. The man was not from Spindle Cove. This was a small village, and all the residents knew one another—by sight, if not by name. This intruder was a stranger to them all.
He was also large. Streaked with grime. Dripping wet.
And moving. Staggering, stumbling…directly toward her alcove.
The men drew those sabers now, and some of them rushed forward. Corporal Thorne looked fully prepared to skewer the man—dull blade notwithstanding.
But the intruder did not pose a threat for long. Before any of the militiamen could reach him, he collapsed.
Right at Violet’s feet.
“Oh, goodness.”
As he slid to the floor, he clutched at her skirts, tangling with them. By the time the man’s head met parquet with a heavy thud, a long streak of blood marred her watered silk.
Violet sank to her knees. She hadn’t much choice. She pressed her gloved hand to the intruder’s neck, searching for his pulse. Her satin-sheathed fingertips came away bright red. And trembling.
Kate and Sally crouched beside her.
“Dear heaven,” Kate breathed. “He’s just covered in blood.”
“And dirt,” Sally said. “But cor, he’s gorgeous anyhow.”
“Sally, only you could think of such a thing at a time like this.”
“You can’t tell me you didn’t notice. Just look at those cheekbones. That strong jaw. Pity about the nose, but those lips are made for sin. He’s like a fallen angel, isn’t he?”
“He’s fallen,” Kate said. “So much is certain.”
Violet removed her soiled glove and pressed her bare hand to the man’s chilled, dirt-streaked face. He moaned and tightened his grip on her skirts.
Sally gave her a sly look. “Whoever he is, he seems to be rather taken with Miss Winterbottom.”

Dialogue Highlight:
He stared at her for several moments. When he spoke, he voice was even. “I do understand, and I believe you. I have a great deal I’d like to say to you, but I’d rather not say it at gunpoint. If I give my word I’ll not touch you, will you lower the pistol?”
She shook her head.
“Violet.” His voice took on a darker edge. “I could disarm you if I chose. But I might injure you in the process, and I’d rather not hurt you again.”
She exhaled slowly. Then lowered the pistol to her lap. That was as much as she’d give him.
“I’m listening.”
He inched closer. “The way I treated you was inexcusable. I deserve your scorn. I can see how you’ve changed, and it makes me so proud. You’re braver and stronger and more lovely than ever. I want you to know I’ve changed too, in our time apart. If not for the lovelier.” Slowly reaching out, he lifted her free hand to his face and traced her fingertip down the rugged slope of his nose. “Feel this?”
“It’s been broken.”
He nodded. “Twice. Purposely. Part of my training. I had to practice being in pain, you see. So that I would respond only in Breton, never in English.” He made her hand into a fist and bashed it playfully across his nose. “Corentin Morvan eo ma anv. My name is Corentin Morvan.” He sliced her finger across the scar on his throat. “Me a zo un tamm peizant. I am a humble farmhand.” He put her two fingers to his heart like a pistol. “N’ouzon netra. I know nothing. I swear on the Virgin this is the truth.”
“It sounds like torture.”
“It was, but it was necessary. For my own safety, and to guard the safety of others.” He kissed her hand and kept it in both of his. “They thrashed that carefree, callow duke’s son straight out of me and left a lowly farmhand in his place. But they never beat you out of my heart.” He stared deeply into her eyes. “I love you.”
Her heart slammed against her ribs.
“I love you, Violet. I loved you then. I love you now. I don’t expect to ever stop.”
His words overwhelmed her to the point of mute paralysis. Oh, how she wanted to believe him. But it made no rational sense.
Finally, she managed a tiny shake of her head. “It can’t be true.”

Wow! Ms. Tessa Dare has a new fan. Of that, I am certain. I find it difficult to believe that, prior to this book, I had not yet read Ms. Dare. I absolutely adore historical over all other romance genres and generally seek historical authors out to see if they are a good fit for me. Well, I only wish I had found her before now. I can’t imagine what I have been missing out on. Plus, this book is published by Samhain so I should have known. I have had crazy good luck with finding authors I really enjoy with this publishing company.
Violet is what you would describe as a wallflower. She literally seeks out the corners of a ball room and firmly plants herself there for the ball’s entirety. Due to her ruination a year or two ago she has taken refuge at Spindle Cove; or as others call it, Spinster Cove. After freely giving her virginity to the supposed love of her life, him walking away from her without so much as a backward glance, and fearing the possibility of a child, Spindle Cove seemed the only feasible option. But Violet and Spindle Cover ate not exactly what they seem. This Wallflower is anything buy a shrinking Violet and Spindle Cove has taught her invaluable lessons both in life and about herself. On this eve, she is bidding farewell, having been summoned home the following morning. But the appearance of a mysterious man with hauntingly uncanny similarities to her former lover tilt her world off balance and throw her head long into the middle of a sticky situation.
Like Violet, Christian is not exactly what he seems. The man from Violet’s past has been harboring several secrets of his own. Circumstances forced him to leave her the way that he did. He has been gone a long time and has this single opportunity to see her. With time quickly expiring, the question is what will he divulge and will she even be receptive to allowing him another chance. Living an altogether different life has changed Christian in many ways, but his love for Violet has never wavered. This night he has to lay everything out on the table or risk losing her forever; if he isn’t already fighting a losing battle.
I adore this couple! First of all, how can you not automatically root for the Wallflower? Seriously. I absolutely love seeing someone like Violet find her HEA! Violet and Christian have a special connection both physically and intellectually. Their attraction, at least on Christian’s side, took a long time to bloom but once it did the sparks flew and their souls were forever bonded. At first I was skeptical of Christian and his motives and was not quite convinced that he was the same man Violet loved. But before too long, I was on his side and hoping that he succeed in convincing her of his devotion to her. And Christian is no fool. He realizes too that he is asking a lot of Violet. Not wanting to entertain the possibility of rejection, his fear of losing her completely continues to niggle in the back of his head – and his heart.
The thing I love about Wallflowers is that they are almost never the shy, simpering misses that people take them for. Such is the case with Violet. Unsure of her feelings initially, once she commits, there is no stopping her. A force to be reckoned with, even Christian is surprised by her actions. Intrigue, espionage, mystery, longing, and passion all run heavily within this novella from the very beginning. Never a dull moment, the reader is sure to be hooked immediately; well and truly sucked into the life of these fascinating characters. If you haven’t read the Spindle Cover series before, this would be a great way to whet the appetite. You are guaranteed to want to read more once given a taste provided by this little gem. Historical romance lovers, if you haven’t read Ms. Dare, you are missing out. And if you have, you know exactly what I am talking about. *nods*
(eBook copy won in a Twitter contest courtesy of author Courtney Milan. This review is my honest opinion of the story.)

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