Thursday, December 15, 2011

NOVELLA REVIEW: "Once Upon a Winter's Eve" by Tessa Dare

TITLE: Once Upon a Winter's Eve
AUTHOR: Tessa Dare
SERIES: Spindle Cove #1.5
GENRE: Historical Romance-Regency
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
READ DATE: December 2011
SOURCE: Kindle
SUMMARY: 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.


Once Upon a Winter's Eve is a historical romance novella that is part of Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series.  Spindle Cove is a small seaside village along the English Channel that has become a haven for young ladies with "problems".  These issues range from illness to impending spinsterhood to scandal.  The village is a place for these ladies to have a peaceful existence without the demands of society.

Violet Winterbottom is one of the "unfortunate" young ladies who has been residing at Spindle Cove for almost a year.  An ill-advised incident forced her to retire temporarily from society, but her family is now forcing her to return to London.  I really enjoyed reading about Violet.  She is not a typical wallflower due to her appearance and accomplishments, but still remains shy around strangers.  I thought this was an interesting quirk to her character.  Violet is very intelligent and courageous when she needs to be, but there is always a sense of vulnerability as well.

I can't go into too much detail about the hero in this novella because a decent amount of the plot deals with his true identity.  I will say that, while he was sexy and dangerous, I never completely warmed up to him.  There were definite moments where I felt sorry for him and his situation, but there were other things that just irked me.  His past actions were difficult to forgive and I'm not a hundred percent sure whether he was properly redeemed or not.

Despite my hesitations about the hero, I did enjoy reading the love story.  There was a lot of sexual tension that results in some pretty hot scenes later in the novella.  The romance was sweet and full of cute moments.  The plot was perfectly suited for a story this length which is not always the case in the world of novellas.  I also liked the sense of danger that I felt throughout my reading.  The conflict is very real and balanced well with the romance.  The only other issue I had with the story, besides my opinions on the hero, was the ending.  It felt like it was a little rushed and anticlimatic especially with all the buildup in the earlier parts. 

Overall, it was an entertaining read and a sweet holiday story!  I think it would serve as a nice introduction to Ms. Dare's writing and this series.  Personally, I can't wait to read A Week to be Wicked and spend more time with the fascinating ladies of Spindle Cove!



"As an experienced wallflower, Violet Winterbottom knew to stake her ground and guard it."


1. A Night to Surrender
1.5. Once Upon a Winter's Eve
2. A Week to be Wicked (To Be Released 2012)
3. A Lady by Midnight (To Be Released 2012)


Amazon Kindle Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website/Blog

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