Here’s the problem I have with Tessa Dare—she was one of the first authors I discovered on Kindle with a free e-book—The Beauty and the Blacksmith, which is part of the Spindle Cove series. I immediately downloaded a whole bunch of her books within the space of a weekend, certain that I’d never seen her on the bookstore shelves.
When I had word that the next book was being released, I ordered it from Dymocks, as I have every book since, which has left me in my current predicament. Half my Tessa Dare library is digital and the other half on my bookshelf.
My guiding rule is that authors I love I buy in hardcopy, but that weekend of tense anticipation and complete lack of discipline means that I now need to replace nine ebooks with the real thing. Nine! That’s a lot of money to spend on books that I already own…
And it doesn’t solve yet another problem I have with Tessa Dare—she loves to write novellas. And I love to read them.
If you haven’t read a novella before, it’s longer than a short story but shorter than a novel (generally 20,000 – 40,000 words). To give you some context, Tessa’s other novels are approximately 80,000 words.
The beauty of them is that they can be read in one sitting (although, lets be honest, I read most romances in one long sitting). But these sittings are shorter, a normal person’s single sitting. They’re also quicker to write, which means many authors publish a novella in between their full length releases. The story lines are simpler and they have fewer characters.
How does this work in a novella? How can you justify the full development of a relationship in a quarter of the length? I mean seriously, sometimes full length novels test the limits of my ability to suspend disbelief. The hero and heroine fall in love in a week? Pffft.
Actually, Tessa handles it really well. In her novellas the hero and heroine already know each other, and may even already have a connection, but there’s something, some misunderstanding, keeping them apart, and the novella just has a small problem to solve rather than a series of big ones.
So if I like novellas so much, and if she is so good at them, why did it seem such a huge problem that her latest book Lord Dashwood Missed Out is a novella?
Because a lot of novellas are e-books only, and it is bloody infuriating! It completely messes with my resolved to own and entire set of hard copies of my favourite author’s catalogues.
Someone at Avon has tapped in to this frustration (which must be wider spread than just myself) because her latest novella has been printed. It cost me almost the same as a full length novel ($14AUD—which is about $10.50 US) and it had to be ordered in from the States, but I have it. On my shelf. And it is divine.
Lord Dashwood Missed Out is the story of Elinora Browning, who has made a name for herself as a notable writer after penning an angry no-longer-in-love letter. Lord Dashwood’s rejection hurt, and though she likes to think she’s moved on, she’s forced to realise that maybe she hasn’t after getting stuck in a carriage alone with him.
I loved this (which you should have realised by now, because I don’t review books I don’t like). She was tough and fiercely independent and singular but with the kind of vulnerability that we all experience when faced with someone who just doesn’t love us the way we want them to. Lord Dashwood is nice. He’s pissed off, but he’s nice. I love the fact that he’s a cartographer—I find intelligent men very sexy—but he still has an air of strong masculinity. Actually he reminds me of Elliott, so that’s probably why I liked it so much. So the lead characters were great.
And then she did what I love.
Characters from her previous Spindle Cove novellas made appearances. It felt like catch up coffee with old friends, and it added a layer of nostalgia to the story, and another layer warm and fuzzy feelings.
Please read Tessa Dare. She’s funny and her books are full of interesting women. If you’re someone who ‘trials’ an author by e-book, but loves paperbacks, trust me. Skip that step. You don’t need it.
From the back cover:
Miss Elinora Browning grew up yearning for the handsome, intelligent lord-next-door…but he left England without a word of farewell. One night, inspired by a bit too much sherry, Nora poured out her heartbreak on paper. Lord Dashwood Missed Out was a love letter to every young lady who’d been overlooked by gentlemen—and an instant bestseller. Now she’s on her way to speak in Spindle Cove when snowy weather delays her coach. She’s forced to wait out the storm with the worst possible companion: Lord Dashwood himself.
And he finally seems to have noticed her.
George Travers, Lord Dashwood, has traveled the globe as a cartographer. He returned to England with the goal of marrying and creating an heir—only to find his reputation shredded by an audacious, vexingly attractive bluestocking and her poison pen. Lord Dashwood Missed Out, his arse. Since Nora Browning seems to believe he overlooked the passion of a lifetime, Dash challenges her to prove it.
She has one night.