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BOOK REVIEW – When a Scot Ties the Knot (Casters Ever After #3) by Tessa Dare

BOOK REVIEW – When a Scot Ties the Knot (Casters Ever After #3) by Tessa DareWhen a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
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Synopsis:

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep


June 20, 1843

“My dear, silent friend,
It breaks my heart, but I have to do it. I must. I can’t bear the guilt any longer. There’s only one way to end this now.
You have to die.”

*burst of laughing* I promise, I’m not a psycho. Trust me.

It’s been a while since my last Historical Romance – actually, I can say exactly since when I’ve started to get away from this genre : when I read this piece of absolute crap that’s Once & Always, which combined romanticizing of abuse in all its forms. Trust me, I got turned off. So, yes. Some historical – and contemporary romances, for that matter – promote awful behaviors that are everything but love. This being said, shame on me to have painted all of historical romances with one brush : what Tessa Dare offers us is often all kinds of awesome.

Her heroines are hilarious, unconventional, strong-minded, and on the good side of quirky, that is to say, funny without being plain annoying, a little odd, but still relatable. Maddie is no exception to the rule : as shy and weird she can appear at first, I challenge you to dislike her. Really. #Team Maddie.

☑ She creates non-raging male-leads who are sexy, sarcastic, driven but never violent or abusive : if Colin (A Week to Be Wicked) and Ransom (Romancing the Duke) stay my favorites, Logan earn his stripes in my heart with his quick mind and his loyalty. I would say his kilt made the difference, but erm – that would be lying. I’m not really into Highlanders and all these Scottish guys, but if you are, you’re gonna love him. Don’t expect to meet a perfect man, though : he blackmails her into marriage, for Pete sake. Keep this in mind. I can only promise you that he’s no asshole. No, really. Believe me.

☑ The storylines are over the top, flirting with total madness and never really believable, but I can’t manage to care, because it’s never boring.

☑ The writing, addictive and hilarious, puts her books in the “Do Not Read In Public” box, even more if you own the paperbacks (can someone do something about these covers? Please? It’s like they’ve been created to give ereaders a purpose or something).

☑ The sex scenes are hot and the chemistry is always off the charts.

So. When a Scot Ties the Knot? Think all that and more :

+ bromance & loyalty : I love these soldiers
+ lobsters (sex tips)
+ drawings of nails (yes, that counts)
+ the Scottish version of the Naked Man (in a loch, no less!)

You strip down to your skin, and then you have a dip in the loch. Wait until she comes looking for you. Because she will. They always do. But pretend not to notice when she does. And then – just when she’s close enough to see and she’s been watching for a while, you rise up out of the water. Like a dolphin. Or a mermaid. Shooting up through the mist and pushing your hair back with both hands” – Rabbie thrust both hands through his hair to demonstrate – “with all the little beads of water trickling down over the ridges of your shoulders and chest”. He danced his fingers down his belly. “Like so.”

+ an unforgettable poem *dies of laughing*

BOTTOM LINE : Even though it’s not my favorite from Tessa Dare, and that as always insta-lust is never far (but no such thing as instalove, I swear), When a Scot Ties the Knot managed to get me out of my reading slump (nearly 5 books started yesterday, yikes) and offered me several hours of pure enjoyment. What are you waiting for?

BOOK REVIEW – Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4) by Tessa Dare

BOOK REVIEW – Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4) by Tessa DareAny Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4)
by Tessa Dare
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season--or any season--but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training"...and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure--a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess--can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

Once upon a time I read a book from Tessa Dare and rated it 2.5 stars…

Although it started so good …

The beginning was freaking hilarious : During the first 30%, I was ready to crown Tessa Dare as the most awesome HR author of the world. Just have a peek at the text I sent Chelsea :

Oh, LL = Lauren Layne, of course!

Let’s meet our strong heroine : To be frank, Pauline won me from the very beginning, at this point exactly :

“It was hers now, wasn’t it? She’d paid for the contents. “For example, everyone knows I’m incurably clumsy.”
“Pauline,” Sally warned. “Please don’t”
Too late. With an angry heave, she launched the bin’s contents into the air.”

Impulsive and proud? That’s my girl.

Give me some broody male-lead : I’m going to repeat myself (I might be a parrot after all), but during the first 30%, I fell in love with this lonely duke and his interactions with Pauline. That was funny, snarky, inappropriate, deliciously adorable.

“It was nothing.”
The only manly reply, naturally. In truth, he suspected he’d pulled a muscle somewhere between vaulting the sofa and playing Jack Be Nimble with the ottoman …”

… So bad it didn’t last …

✘ I’m sorry, but I was kind of bored at some point. Yeah. When I start eyeing the percentages on my reader every five minutes, that’s generally not a good sign. Sigh.

The romance didn’t work so much for me : Now, here’s my main complain. Let’s face it, that’s an historical romance, that is to say, the whole point is … the romance. Overall, except from the first 30%,
again
, I didn’t feel the spark I loved between Colin and Minerva in A Week to be Wicked.

Unconvincing twists plot spoilt my read : I can deal with unbelievable twists, I mean, hey, I loved A Week to be Wicked and we deal with a ridiculous kidnapping attempt there, but here I found myself strangely careless of the explanations given to explain Griff’s behavior. I wasn’t convinced.

✘✔ Why, hello, strangely tolerant Duchess : Now, here, I don’t know if I’m supposed to be thankful for her open-mindedness or be annoyed by the fact that it’s utterly unbelievable for a Regency Duchess. Let’s call it even, okay?

“Oh. I see. So your grace never curses.”
“I do not.”
“Words like cor … bollocks … damn … devil … blast … bloody hell …” She pronounced the words with relish, warming to her task. “They don’t cross a duchess’s lips?”
“No.”
“Never?”
“Never.”

Overall, I can’t deny my disappointment and that’s what decided me to rate it only 2.5 stars. Indeed I enjoyed it far less than Colin and Minerva’s story. However, I have trusted Tessa Dare to offer me historical romance both steamy and hilarious – what I found in Romancing the Duke and A Week to be Wicked – and I still do.

BOOK REVIEW – A Week to be Wicked (Splindle Cove #2) by Tessa Dare

BOOK REVIEW – A Week to be Wicked (Splindle Cove #2) by Tessa DareA Week to be Wicked (Spindle Cove #2)
by Tessa Dare
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin...time is not on their side.

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be...anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to

• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they're in "love"
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don't have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe...just maybe...love.

“When a girl trudged through the rain at midnight to knock at the Devil’s door, the Devil should at least have the depravity – if not the decency – to answer.”

Guys. Guuuuuys. I think I may be a romantic.

Yes there are parts completely unbelievable and twists rather roll-eyes worthy – of course. But you know what? That’s okay, because what Min and Colin are offering us? That’s a tale – a show of deception, the triumph of the lies – and that’s hilarious.

Yes the plot is predictable and we run into some sentences very cliché sometimes. But you know what? There’s also several damn hot scenes and if Colin’s personality has been already seen in other novels, well, he’s fucking awesome in this role of the sarcastic, infuriating, devilish, and somehow delusional Lord. As for Minerva, well, she’s pretty amazing. Moreover, the scientific similes of Minerva and Colin completely cracked me up.

“I’ve always thought that word sounded splendidly naughty.” He let it roll off his tongue with ribald inflection. “Logarithm.” He gave an exaggerated shiver. “Ooh. Yes and thank you and may I have some more.”

Plus I have a theory about the clichés we find in this story. Yeah, I know, I’m not some investigator. Perhaps I’m delusional. But still. I’m almost sure that Tessa Dare plays consciously with the clichés she includes. Why? Because when a reaction or a sentence seems dripping with cheese, that’s always followed by something which makes fool of it.

Colin is being completely overdramatic?
→ Miranda hurries to call him on his shit.

Colin wants to offer Minerva his ring as a sign of love?
→ The ring stays stuck on his finger. A long time.

“You taste of ripe plums.”
She couldn’t help it. She laughed. “Now that’s just absurd.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s too early in the year for ripe plums.”

See? I could add some examples but then, I’d spoilt the story too much. Maybe I’m wrong, I’m just a random reader after all, but it pleases me to think that Tessa Dare is able to do that. I guess you’ll have to make your own opinion about it.

“My name is Minerva. I’m not your pet. And you’re deranged if you think I’d ever marry you.”
“But I thought you just said – ”
“Run away with you, yes. Marry you?” She made an incredulous noise in her throat.
“Please” .

Yes it awfully looks like instalove. Yep. Because there’s no denying that falling in love in a week is instalove. But then, I strangely didn’t care that much, as I saw this book as a fairy tale. A wicked and silly journey into the foolish heart of mine. And you know what? A day after finishing my read I can still feel the butterflies.

“But now that he was seized with lust for her, she ought to at least reciprocate with a grudging-yet-helpless infatuation. So much would only be polite.”

Yes the pacing is uneven and the story kind of drag towards the end. But you know what? I must confess that I wanted my HEA. I was shipping Colin and Minerva like crazy and despite the fact that Colin’s transformation can lead to awkward moments, well, I was smiling so big it hurts. Right. I think I may be a romantic after all. Don’t tell anyone.

In a nutshell : Here’s a somehow predictable romance book, where we find characters who fall in love pretty quickly, whose comments are sometimes a bit cheesy, and where some situations will make you roll your eyes something fierce, yet it was a page-turner and I laughed and
giggled 
GIGGLED so much I just can’t rate it below 3.5, and I’m rounding it at 4. Not to mention the steamy scenes. Did I talk about that? Yeah?

As guilty I can feel about that, it was a complete enjoyment. Damn. I’m ruined.

BOOK REVIEW – Romancing The Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

BOOK REVIEW – Romancing The Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa DareRomancing The Duke (Castles Ever After #1)
by Tessa Dare
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.


You know I’m not an historical romance girl. And yet, Color me surprised : That was all kind of adorable and I fell in love with this story.

Sometimes we love characters because they aren’t like us – see Penryn for example : did I need to remind you how much I wouldn’t survive in the world after? Nope, I don’t think so – and other times, we come across some personality traits which remind us so much of ourselves that we can’t help but relate to the character. That’s what happened to me with some sides of Izzie. Not everything, but enough.

– She’s spontaneous, that is to say, happens to say everything she has in mind when she’s stressed. Yeah, I know the feeling.

– She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it.

Personal story time! – you can skip it if you don’t care.
When I was a kid, sometimes I was grounded (I know, shocking). The fact is, I used to wait a bit (like, half an hour) and after this I always went to my dad to ask him if I could go out. Sometimes he said yes, other times he said no. Whatever. It depended on the stupidity I’d done, I guess. Well, all of that is this to say that I asked what I wanted, contrary to my sister who waited that my parents told her to go out.

Why am I telling this to you? To point out that I was a spoiled brat? Hmm… No. Maybe. I don’t know. Not the point. Actually I’m telling this because here’s what I learnt and remembered : In life, if you want something, you’re going to have to ask for it, because people aren’t going to guess for you.

And that’s what annoys me the most in heroines and makes me often want to shake them : that’s a rule I apply in my life, and it’s pretty simple : if you ask for the opposite of what you want, you’ll probably obtain… the opposite of what you want. If you don’t know what you want maybe you have to think about it before asking. And finally, if you want something, go for it and ask. Of course that’s not because you ask that you will obtain what you want, OF COURSE. But you’re increasing your chances here. That’s why I loved Izzie.

She knows what she wants and she isn’t afraid to fight to obtain it. In her straightforward way, she’s freaking courageous and her bluntness is incredibly enjoyable. She’s a woman, not a spoiled brat. Romanced since her childhood by her writer of a father, she doesn’t believe in fairies tales and her only and true goal is to be noticed. To be seen entirely. Even if she’s inexperienced as hell, she doesn’t shy away and just asks for what she wants. How exhilarating is that?

And we have Ransom. Ah, Ransom. What a perfect broody hero you are! Let me tell you : his inner monologues full of venom were hilarious – that’s simple, he’s always trying to get rid of someone, in one way or another. And wow, how badly he takes people intrusion! That was precious.

Like here

“How did one get rid of these girls? They were like fanned-away horseflies. They just kept coming back.

 

Or here

“Certainly you can. It’s bad enough that they pester you with letters and questions. Draw a line, Goodnight. Go out there and tell them you’re a grown woman who can sling about the word ‘cock’ with the ease of a courtesan, and you don’t appreciate unannounced visits. Then invite them to sod off, the bunch of clanking idiots. If you won’t, I’ll do it.”

Moreover he’s protective and so. fucking. hot. And above all that, he’s a broken man who doesn’t believe in love and who’s incredibly afraid to open his mind and his heart to feelings – and yet he craves for them. Literally. Damn, that’s safe to say that he stole my heart completely : I loved everything : his grumpiness, his struggle to love, his hotness, and he earned his batch of Awwwwwwwww from me.

“What was he coming to, when a woman sat in his lap, he gave her a stern what-for… and then ten seconds later, oopsy-daisy and la-di-dah, he went and twirled a finger in her hair?
That was not ducal behavior. It certainly wasn’t normal behavior for him.”

Their banter was wonderful, full of repartee and yet never filled with disrespect. This brings me to the absolutely delicious conversations between Izzie and Ransom : man, that was hilarious. Between their comments and the awkward situations they’re put into (the Army guys. Precious. I’ll let you discover it), I couldn’t help but laugh out loud like a total fool. That was fucking great.

Moreover, the story takes place in a castle (which is awesome) but in a wrecked castle (which is even more awesome). Since his accident, Ransom never had the occasion – and never wanted – to make a home of this castle and guess what? A lot of things will change with Izzie’s arrival, much to Ransom’s despair!

Finally, as a not-so-fond-of-historical-romance girl, what I often despise when I read a book like this is the writing and the pacing. Truth being told, I end bored more often than most and have a hard time enjoying the My Lady and other Your Grace. Good news! Here’s I never felt overwhelmed by an heavy writing, that’s quite the opposite : I was captivated from the beginning to the end. Bravo!

I cheered at the end. I. CHEERED. I don’t know what else I can tell you to convince you.

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