26 December, 2016

Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare #review

Pages -   224 pages
Publisher -  Avon Impulse
Published -   April 30, 2013
Amazon -  Link
Genre -  Regency Romance
Series -  Book 2 of 5 in the Spindle Cove series
Language -  Irrelevant
Sexual Content -  3/5


Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least, that’s what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.
But Diana’s not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn’t be more wrong for each other…but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.
Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?

(This is a novella of approximately 36,000 words. Also included is a two-chapter preview of Do You Want to Start a Scandal,  9/27/16.)

My first Tessa Dare novel, and I'm still not ready to decide if it will be my last.

She's celebrated and award-winning, but since I'm not convinced, it is highly likely it is me who needs to re-examine my own criteria for such accolades.

Yes, the plot is intriguing and yes, the writing was rather sound.

I liked Aaron Dawes, the beefy Blacksmith with a heart of gold and an unfathomable hankering for the village beauty, Lady Diana.

Miss Diana... Lady?

Which was part of the trouble I had with this story.

I don't really know who 'Diana' is, what her 'title' was, and where she fit in 'titled' society back in Regency England.

She read like a modern-day woman with a few flighty Regency personality quirks, so I remained confused.

And, she was with all women at all times in a 'boarding' house with other females, so I still don't know who she is or what her actual title makes her out to be.

'Diana' is in Spindle Cove with her mother and younger sister because 'Diana' has suffered from asthma much of her life and needs the seaside air to recover.

Something happened in Book 1 to bring her and Aaron together, and that 'something' is touched upon two or three times in this novella, but it wasn't quite enough to make me really understand or respond to their interest in one another.

Other than Aaron is super-hot and 'Diana' wants to see him naked.

The writing wasn't too bad but the mix-up between Regency and Contemporary was and made it difficult to follow.

'Diana' behaved more like a modern woman with 21st Century ideals, which is always a turn-off for me because I read Historical Romance for the Historical aspects as much as for the Romance.

Understanding that this is a novella and things had to be cut short, and knowing this is a love story that follows her older sister's romance in the first full-length novel, I still felt that something HUGE was missing.

There was no suspense, the H didn't have anyone else pursuing him, and the man 'Diana's' mother wanted her to marry wasn't even interested.

It was simply two people from two different worlds colliding at the Blacksmith, having sex a few times, and then breaking the startling news of their relationship to her family.

And, the celebrated author made it sound like it is perfectly acceptable behavior and all's right with the world.

In reality, had anyone seen or caught wind of 'Diana' visiting said Blacksmith unescorted and remaining behind closed doors with a single man for any length of time, her destroyed reputation would have done the job she sought desperately to figure out for much of the story.

Diana worried more about what her mother would say and much less about the resulting ramifications her daylight decisions would have not only on herself but her family and especially her younger sister, who would also soon have her Season.

Just because it doesn't seem or isn't considered scandalous by today's standards doesn't mean it wasn't that way back in the day.

Why do authors insist on 'forgetting' this or 'pretending' like it didn't happen or doesn't matter now?

As for 'Diana' being a raving beauty... I didn't get that impression because she'd passed two Seasons without any notice, and the titled gentleman her mother hoped would become her daughter's husband had no interest, either.

Wouldn't it have been more fun to read about the 'many' suitors vying for said Beauty's hand while she snubs them in pursuit of her true love for the lowly Blacksmith?

And Aaron, being of sound mind and body, would continue to thwart her efforts while secretly nursing jealousy of all those suitors until alas, she wears him down and true love finally prevails.

Instead, we get two people who easily vacillate between Regency and 21st Century, behaving totally out-of-character, doing whatever they damn-well please, and everyone around them accepts it w/out the slightest hint of scandal or even shock or dismay.


Lastly, while the author did help me to kind-of like 'Diana', she failed me toward the end when Aaron behaved more dignified than 'Diana' and made every attempt to honor her virtue, her good name, and her family status, yet 'Diana' acted shrewish, selfish, and modern-day bossy bitch on him.

It was rude, historically inaccurate, and made me not like her anymore.

I ended up feeling very sorry for Aaron and worried about his future happiness being saddled with someone like her.

She needed a reality check, and Aaron needed more reason to be that easily accepted.

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