Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review: Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare

From the Back Cover:

A snowstorm hath no fury like a spinster scorned!

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.

My Thoughts:

It's two weeks before Christmas, and Nora Browning, famous author, is on her way to a speaking engagement in Spindle Cove, the eccentric little seaside town that has earned the nickname of "Spinster Cove" for its reputation of welcoming unmarried ladies. But halfway there, she misses her coach transfer and is forced to share a ride in another coach, where the only other passenger just happens to be George Travers, Lord Dashwood, the very subject of the pamphlet that made Nora famous. Talk about an awkward situation! They haven't seen each other in five years, not since Dash broke her heart and her hopes of an engagement by embarrassing her in public and walking off to travel the world without a backward glance. But now he's back, and he's heard all about Nora's success and the infamous "Lord Ashwood" who inspired her pamphlet. And he wants answers. Specifically, he wants to know what exactly Nora thinks he missed out on. But before he can find out, the coach breaks down, stranding them on the road with only an abandoned shack for protection from the storm. And I'll bet you can guess what happens in that shack ;)

Meanwhile, Griff, Duke of Halford (from book four, Any Duchess Will Do), is on a mission to score a bottle of sherry for his wife, Pauline, who is hosting the event for Miss Browning at her bookshop. He's in the doghouse after returning from a trip to London without the specially requested sherry and for not telling his wife who he was visiting. On top of that, Miss Browning was due to arrive hours ago, but a snowstorm has moved in, causing his wife to worry that the author is stuck somewhere on the road. Anxious to make amends with his wife, Griff vows to find Miss Browning and a bottle of sherry, and his three friends, Victor, Thorne, and Colin (also heroes from previous books), decide they could do with a little adventure, so off they all go into the snow.

I'll read anything Tessa Dare, but her Spindle Cove series is especially near and dear to my heart, so I would have read this novella no matter what it was about. I was initially drawn to the idea of a scorned woman penning a public letter to the man who broke her heart, but I ended up loving this book not so much for the romance between these two new characters of Nora and Dash, but for the reunion of all my favorite characters from previous books. All of the ladies together in the bookshop and four of my favorite historical romance heroes together and on a rescue mission, filled with Tessa Dare's signature wit--such fun! And since Griff and Pauline are my favorite of all the couples, his Christmas surprise for her was a perfect, heartwarming cap on this tale.

Novellas don't allow for much by way of story and character development, and that means that a few things in this story were not all they could be. For example, I would have loved to hear about some of Dash's adventures as a cartographer to help me get a feel for why he so strongly felt the urge to embark on that career. What was the draw for him? What does he love about it? And I did not feel a satisfactory explanation was ever given for why Dash left Nora in such an awful fashion all those years ago. But he certainly does make some wonderfully romantic declarations to her at the end, and in front of all of Spindle Cove, which at least gives the reader a sense that he has matured and come to realize how important Nora is to him. And what's not to admire about a heartbroken heroine who gets drunk and pens a scathing bestseller? And who, when put to the test, proceeds to show Lord Dashwood exactly what he missed out on!

Each of the Spindle Cove novels and novellas (and there are seven in all with one more on the way) can be read as a stand-alone, but I recommend reading them in order since so many characters make appearances in subsequent books, and it's so much fun to catch up with them during their happily ever afters. Lord Dashwood Missed Out is another winner in an excellent series!

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

*This review originally appeared on Romantic Historical Reviews

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